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Backpacking the Michinoku Coastal Trail 2020/3/23 05:25
Hi everyone!

I am planning a trip to Japan this year and recently I found out about the Michinoku Coastal Trail from this website: https://www.michinokutrail.com/. I fell in love with the idea of hiking the trail with a tent, but I have some doubts that I would like to clear before making my final decision. I contacted the aformentioned website's owner who hiked the trail, but I unfortunately haven't got any response so far :-(

Firstly, let me give you some information that I believe are relevant:
1. I plan on hiking the trail for 2-3 weeks between mid September and mid October, beginning in Hachinohe. I don't have any specific dates settled.
2. I started learning Japanese a year ago, so by the time I hike the trail my Japanese will still be lousy. I am not sure if I will be able to cover everything at JLPT N5 level by then.

On to the questions, shall we?
1. I am a bit afraid of the weather. I studied last year's weather conditions in Tohoku in September and October and it seems like it can get pretty cold at night and it might rain a lot, especially in September. My biggest fear is that I will get soaked and there won't be any place to dry off my clothes.
2. I read that the region is not a popular tourist destination. Because of this I imagine few people will speak conversational English and my Japanese will be not good enough for most things. Could this be a problem? Of course if there is Internet access, I can use a translator, although:
a) there might not be an Internet connection at some places
b) using a translator all the time is annoying, especially to the person you are talking with
3. There is an official website where you can download maps for the whole trail (http://tohoku.env.go.jp/mct/sp/english/). Each map covers one section and usually displays a one day trip. The first website that I mentioned includes a map of accommodation. It has some campgrounds listed, but:
a) there are just a few of them, so there is no way to camp at a campground every day when sticking to the official trail maps
b) the campground locations do not correspond to where the maps end for particular sections, although this is not a big deal - I don't have to always strictly follow the official trail maps' schedule
4. The website's author lists all the things that he packed for the trip. It includes a rope for hanging clothes. Given that it may rain and/or be cold, I am afraid that I won't be able to dry my clothes in this way. Are there any laundries along the way? As far as I can see, there are no big cities along the trail, so I presume finding one might be problematic.

Any answers are more than welcome!
by Kapol (guest)  

Re: Backpacking the Michinoku Coastal Trail 2020/3/23 10:58
I forgot to actually post a question in point 3. I would like to know if putting up a tent outside of campgrounds is an option. If not, what are the alternatives? Hotels (they will probably be quite expensive...)?
by Kapol (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Backpacking the Michinoku Coastal Trail 2020/3/23 18:42
First of all, I love the idea of your trip and am sure you'll have a great time!

1. Weather. Obviously can't be foretold but can be prepared for. Take a rainproof poncho that can also be turned into a makeshift shelter. Nights will be cooler but if you're in a sleeping bag inside a tent, you should be fine. Weather and how to deal with it are integral parts of any hiking trip.

2. Don't worry about language problems. Sure, you won't be able to have an in depth discussion about the philosophical ramifications of hoarding toilet paper but your basic Japanese and their basic English will get you through most simple encounters and if you're worried about wifi, rent a pocket wifi router for the trip.

3. Staying at camp sites would give you the chance to shower and wash clothes so can be useful but I don't think that you need to limit yourself to campsites, as long as you use common sense. I have camped many times in the mountains of Japan and typically just found a suitable spot along a riverside somewhere. As long as you avoid places that clearly belong to someone and are away from residential areas, I don't think that you need to worry too much. Please do be very cautious about camping anywhere near water if the water levels can rise suddenly or if camping on or by a beach, be careful of falling rocks. In the unlikely event that you do get questioned, it will soon be clear that you're a foreign tourist hiking the trail and no one is going to bat an eye.

4. Most towns of even a reasonable size would have a coin laundry (コインランドリー) where you can do washing and drying. A rope is always a useful bit of kit too, of course and I'd take one anyway.

I'm surprised the website owner hasn't responded but perhaps he will in due course.

by Saru Bob rate this post as useful

Re: Backpacking the Michinoku Coastal Trail 2020/3/24 23:49
I started thinking about changing my plans and hiking the trail starting around 10th August. The weather conditions should be much better, right? If I hiked it for 3 weeks, that would mean that I would end my hike before September, so I could potentially avoid the heaviest rainfall. And last year the high temperature during this period ranged from 20 to 28 degrees celsius (with most days below 25), and the low temperature ranged from 16 to 18. This seems much more pleasant.

Any thoughts about this?
by Kapol (guest) rate this post as useful

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