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April travel around Tohoku region 2018/12/13 15:17
Hi! I would very much appreciate some insight on this rough itinerary I am planning for April.

Tokyo -> Yamagata (base for Yamadera) -> Tsuruoka (base for Dewa Sanzan) -> Akita -> Miyako via Morioka (for Jodogahama) -> Tokyo

Roughly, I will be traveling for 15 days. I have been doing research, but there are still a couple of concerns.

I am thinking of using JR East pass to travel, but I'm quite concerned that the five day flexi pass might be stretching it with this itinerary. Are the local transportations in these areas affordable? I am quite torn between getting the JR East pass vs the 14-day JR National Pass, which allows more flexibility but way more expensive.

Also, I would love, love to do the traditional Nyuto onsen in Akita. I have a couple of tattoos, though. Has anyone with ink experienced or tried to experience them?

Thank you very much!

by Katz (guest)  

Re: April travel around Tohoku region 2018/12/13 23:12
Hiya Katz!

When in April do you plan this trip? Some of these areas are still pretty snow covered until mid to late April. When I did Haguro-san in late April 2009, the stairs were really just opening up and there were still patches of snow up at the top near the temple. Yudono-san was still closed for the Winter as was Gassan.

Yamagata to Yamadera is 240 yen. If you wanted to visit Zao and they allowed tattoos, you're going to want to take a bus from Yamagata.

I actually took one of the Express Buses from Yamagata to Tsuruoka in '09. It was faster and more often than the train connections when I looked and I thought the drive was quite scenic. I believe at the time I had the JR East Flex Pass, so that was a day I didn't use it.

I was staring from Morioka and missed one of the 3 Inaho a day between Akita and Sakata, so took locals the whole way down. I again enjoyed the scenery but if you're paying out of pocket it's only going to run you 2270 yen. Heck, the Limited Express is only 3930 yen to Akita.

Heck, even taking the shinkansen from Akita to Miyako is only 6580 yen.

I think unless you are planning to leave Tohoku there is no way you are going to cover the cost of a 2 week pass, and you are better off getting the JR East and paying out of pocket or occasionally using buses as it will be cheaper. I would just make sure to save 1 day for Tokyo to Yamagata and 1 day for Morioka to Tokyo.

One thing to be aware of is that while a lot of trains are not that expensive, the issue is more they only run so frequently, so just make sure to time everything well. I once missed a bus in Osorezan and had to wait 3 hours for the next one. :(

Good luck and I will look around for some of the links I've saved about onsen that accept tattoos. I myself do not have tattoos and I've not gone to Nyuto yet, but I have friends with tattoos so have saved a few of the discussion threads regarding tattoos and onsen in case they want to partake. :)

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: April travel around Tohoku region 2018/12/13 23:53
Thank you very much for these helpful tips, @rkold!

I thought about the possibility of snow this April (will go mid-1st and 2nd weeks), but fingers crossed spring will come early. Otherwise, Ifll suck up to the snow :-)

Yes, I have been making calculations and I think the JR East pass will do. I have also been checking Hyperdia just to have an idea on train schedules.

Apparently there are some tatt-friendly onsens in Japan, but I havenft seen a lot of posts on onsens in Tohoku. I am considering using some cover up if I can get away with it, haha. Would love to know more about personal experiences, especially in Nyuto.
by Katz (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: April travel around Tohoku region 2018/12/14 00:23
Again, I've never done Nyuto. I'm a woman who use to travel solo and now travels with my grade schooler, so mixed gender onsen are just less appealing to me. I would definitely look into it if my husband was with me though.

I can't get the translation option to work but...

I am pretty sure that is a listing of onsen and beaches in the Tohoku region that should allow tattoos. You can also see if specific places have websites and just email. I have dietary restrictions and I've been known to do that in regards to that.

I rented a private onsen in Zao and while it's not the same experience, you would have no problem anywhere that offers private onsen.

If you're going mid to late April, you might want to add: Hirosaki (it's gorgeous during sakura season, though it gets crowded), Hiraizumi, and I love Kakunodate during sakura time, which also gets crowded. I went to Yonozawa in late April and they were having a pretty cool Children's Day Festival with some of the largest carp streamers I've ever seen.

Good luck! There is really a lot to see and do in Tohoku for 15 days and I think you will have a terrific time. :)
by rkold rate this post as useful

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