Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Note that this thread has not been updated in a long time, and its content might not be up-to-date anymore.

Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/6/29 22:29
Hello all,

This is my first time planning a trip to Tohoku and I am really confused on where I should set up "base camp" and do day trips out off for each cluster of attractions.

Below I have listed the location I plan on staying in bold, and below each of these bold-ed locations are the day trips I plan on doing. As of now, I only plan on using public transport. Day to day activities that is NOT a day trip is not listed.

As of now, the plan is to travel in this order

Tokyo > Fukushima > Yamagata > Akita > Hirosaki > Aomori > Hiraizumi > Sendai

Oze National Park

Hojuzan Risshaku Temple
Zao Onsen Dairotenburo
Ginzan Onsen
Dewasanzan Shrine

Tamagawa Hot Spring


Oirase Gorge
Tsuta Onsen
Sukayu Onsen
Mount Hakkoda


Matsushima Bay
Tashirojima Island


would you recommend me to stay in these towns to do these day trips? Or would you suggest I streamline the locations I will be staying at and do day trips out of fewer locations.

for exmaple, not staying at Yamagata and hiraizumi but instead doing day trips to those locations from Sendai.


thank you!

by Cisyo  

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/6/30 10:06
Stay atthe town/city you have made bold.

Yamadera can be done from Sendai. But all the others are not day trips from other locations.
by H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/6/30 12:28
I think you need to add even more places where to stay, because outside the Shinkansen network transport in Tohoku is slow. By public transport but also by car.

The list of places you have right now I think is roughly a trip for 3 weeks. Maybe more.

Just as an example. You have Akita with daytrip to Tamagawa onsen and Hachimantai. By public transport there are a few busses every day and they take a few hours from Tazawako to Tamagawa onsen. It makes no sense to just go there, get out of the bus and get the n da bus back to get back to Akita for the evening. I went to Tamagawa onsen 2 yrs ago by car. We were staying the night before in a village roughly between Shinjo and Ginzan onsen. By car it took us nearly all day to just drive to Tamagawa onsen. We only visited Kakunodate on the way.

Also a place like Ginzan onsen is a full day trip from Yamagata by public transport because there are not that many busses.

So I think you need to sit down and figure out the details of each place for public transport and then replan to either remove destinations or add more hotels in order to spend more time actually sightseeing rather than on public transport. If you can renting a car at least for some destinations could be a good option.

Enjoy planning your trip to Tohoku!
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/6/30 19:42
Stay in Aizu-Wakamatsu for your Fukushima portion. It is central to your travel plans. Fukushima City is much less convenient.

Yamadera and Hojuzan Risshakuji Temple are the same place just in case you aren't aware. You can stay in Yamagata City for Yamadera and Zao Onsen. Ginzan Onsen is also possible from Yamagata, but you need to be aware of the bus times.
For the Dewa Sanzan (those are 3 different locations), it's better to stay in Tsuruoka where you can access all 3 of the shrines.
by Rabbityama rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/7/1 14:05
Thank you all for your reply.

Yes, it is very confusing for me to plan the trip currently. The words in bold is where I plan on staying and the locations below it are individual day trips. My current listing is Only for day trips, I have not included day to day activities for each "base" I will be staying at.

It seems like locations such as Yamadera is in-between Yamagata and Sendai. How should we decide which location to go from?

y'all suggestion is to stay at more locations so we make shorter trips to each attraction?


I was thinking of doing this instead, what are your thoughts? Would you suggestion we stay at more locations? Would you suggest skipping Akita if we are going during the summer?

Hakodate > Aomori > Akita > Morioka > Sendai > Yamagata > Aizu


Hirosaki - day trip

Mt Hakkoda/Oirase Gorge/Lake Towada - Rent a car and tackle these 3 in a day, if possible go to Tsuta onsen before heading back

Mount Osore - day trip

Take Resort shirakami to Akita

Plan to stay here to hike some trails BUT still unsure as we plan to travel during summer.

Hachimantai- Day trip
Kakunodate - Day trip
Nyuto onsen - Rent a car to go
Sanriku coast - Head over here to take the Sanriku Railway for a scenic view

Yamadera - Day trip
Matsushima bay - day trip
Hiraizumi & Genbikei - Rent a car to go

Ginzan Onsen - Rent a car to go
Dewa sanzan - Rent a car to go

Kitakata - day trip too long?
Ouchi-juku - Day trip too long?
Fukushima - Day trip


What do y'all think of the above plan? Are we staying at too little locations that would require us too much traveling?
Are there any day trips you'd recommend us to check out?


Thank you very much for reading!
by Cisyo rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/7/1 14:30
Can you let us know how many weeks you plan to travel? And how many days you plan to stay in each city including days that you do gonsiteh stuff?

I still think that you are having too many daytrips. And staying in too many big cities that are not specially nice. Eg Morioka isnft an interesting city so unlikely you actually have plans for sightseeing IN Morioka. I would stay on Tazawako and do daytrips to Hachimantai and Kakunodate (and Nyuto onsen) from there.

Akita, not sure why you doubt about the hiking? Because if heat? Anyway if hiking I wouldnft stay in Akita town, but actually in the place you want to start hiking from.

Osorezan, a spectacular location, but best reached by car (or bicycle 😊) so hang on that car for an additional day.



Hiraizumi on the other hand is quite easily reachable by public transport. But if you want to hire a car, thatfs good too.

Regarding if Yamadera is easier to reach from Yamagata or Sendai, well google maps will tell you the transit time, but it would sound like a good location to do on a day you move FROM Sendai TO Yamagata. Ie not a daytrip. You can do that even if you have it luggage thanks to luggage forwarding services such as Yamato kuroneko. So take that into consideration that some places between one and your next base can be best visited on the move not as daytrips.

Enjoy planning your trip!
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/7/1 14:47
Wow amazing reply! Thank you very very much.

Currently, the duration I plan on staying is a little flexible, I would say 3 weeks to a month. A bulk of the time I want to spend in the Tohoku region as it a new place for me. And just a little bit in Tokyo. I cant let you guys know how long I intend to spend at each location yet as I am still in the midst of planning. I am thinking of planning the day trips I would do from each locations first, to see how many days I will already be spending in Tohoku as a whole. Then add on additional days in the various "base camps" based on activities.

Ahh yes! I heard Morioka is a fairly boring town, Tazawako seems amazing as it is right next to Lake Tazawa. Are you suggesting we stay at the town where Tazawako station is location?

Thanks for the heads up about Akita, yes one of the main reason is heat..... If I do plan on hiking Shiragamisanchi, Hirosaki seems like a good place to stay but I will have to research more into the hiking.

Cycling Osorezan is an amazing idea!I've always wanted to cycling when im in Japan but it always gets skipped. This might finally be the time! :D

Awesome! I might just do Yamadera on the way to Yamagata. I plan on traveling really light as it's summer so luggage wouldnt be a problem(hopefully). I did check google maps but when I was searching for other people's itinerary to use as reference, many went from Sendai instead so I thought that there might be a reason behind that. Might be due to time constrains on their part.
by Cisyo rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/7/2 04:18
It's definitely time constraints or they just didn't plan to do anything in the Yamagata area. I believe Yamadera is slightly closer to Yamagata than Sendai but agree with @LikeBike that you should do it on the way between Sendai and Yamagata.

I am really glad you plan to rent a car for the Dewa Sanzan because I believe the bus to Gas-san and Yudono-san only runs on week ends. It's an area where a car really does benefit you. However, I think even with a car, going from Yamagata to all 3 is going to be a very long day. I would recommend staying in Tsuruoka or even seeing if you can stay at Haguro-san. In '09, I started in Sakata and went via train to Tsuruoka and then bus to Haguro-san where I hiked to the top, then took the bus back to Tsuruoka and transferred to a bus to Yamagata and then took a bus to Zao. I timed pretty carefully, and on your own in a car I don't think you'd save enough time to fit in Gas-san and Yudono-san.

I would not want to bike to Osorezan unless you have the time and a good bike. I went via bus, andonce you leave Shimokita on route 4 it gets pretty steep pretty fast with a lot of switchbacks. I am sure it is bikeable. But I wouldn't want to do it with a 1 speed Mamachari.

Right now it's no longer running because of Covid, but I expect when it is safe for tourists to come back they will restart it. https://en.driveplaza.com/drawari/tohoku_expass/ Might make sense. Depending on how much highway driving you are doing, it might be very worth it.

Depending on when in Summer you go, it might be hydrangea and lavender season if you like flowers. I went to a lovely hydrangea park just outside Ichinoseki and there was a temple in Akita I would like to try to make it to in the future for hydrangeas. @Mfedley wrote about visiting Dakigaeri Valley near Kakunodate and it might appeal to you. https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-3270 We didn't have time, but depending on the sort of hikes you want it might work. You can also climb a lot of the mountains in Tohoku. Some are meant for people who are good at climbing and others are just good for people who like to hike.

I was in Tohoku in early July, and I found it cooled off a lot at night. It didn't feel anywhere near as oppressively hot and humid as Kansai, which was particularly bad the year we did a few days in Tohoku.

Good luck!

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/7/2 21:44
Thank you very much for the reply. Dakigaeri Valley looks amazing and I am definitely adding that to the list.

I just finished plotting out the "bases" I plan on staying and day trips out of those areas. After plotting I found that there were some locations that are fairly out of the way. I would like so consult you guys if these locations are worth visiting. As Japan guide mostly just list activities that are "day trips" or out of those locations.

I have streamlined the towns I plan on staying even more, not sure if this will be working against me.

Aomori > Hirosaki > Tazawako > Sendai > Aizu

Again, I will only be listing the day trips we plan on doing not the other day to day activity we might be doing in the town itself. each line is a new day trip.

Osore - By car
Mt Hakkoda > Sukayu onsen > Oirese gorge > Lake Towada - by car

Anmom Falls - by public transport.

Hachimantai - by public transport
Kakunodate > Stay overat Nyuto - by car

Yamadera - by public transport
Hiraizumi > Genbikei - by public transport
Matsushima Bay - by public transport
Ginzan Onsen - by car

Kitakata > OuchiJuku - Public transport
p.s. OuchiJuku just looks like a tiny street with overpriced everything. I might give it a skip


towns / Cities

Akita - I plan on at least hiking Anmon falls but will be doing that from Hirosaki. Will you recommend going to Akita itself?

Yamagata it seems like people usually stay here to travel out and see Yamadera and Zao / Ginzan onsen. But both could be done from Sendai as well. would you suggest staying here or would a day trip here be enough? Looking at the list on Japan-Guide it seems like Yamagata doesnt have much to offer.

Fukushima Same as Yamagata, Fukushima seems like a town that people stay just to do day trips out of. Would you suggest staying here or will a day trip be enough? would you even suggest this for a day trip?


Other attractions

Tamagawa Onsen - We plan on staying at Nyuto if possible. Would you recommend us to still check out Tamagawa Onsen or can we give it a miss?

Sanriku coast - I cant find a specific location that is interesting but taking the Sanriku coast line seems very scenic. What are your recommendations for sanriku coast?

Geibikei Gorge - More out of the way compared the Genbikei, do y'all think it would be worth the hassle if we do it on the same day we are visiting Hiraizumi and Genbikei gorge by public transport

Dewa Sanzan - It seems like Dewa Sanzan's 3 mountains is fairly hard to access even if we plan on staying at Yamagata and is recommended that we stay at Tsuruoka. Would you highly recommend us to make the trip down to Tsuruoka to visit all 3 mountains at Dewa Sanzan?

by Cisyo rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/7/2 21:47
Sorry, I couldn't find a way to edit my previous post but I would like to clarify the section at the bottom named "town / cities" and "Other attractions" are the locations where I am unsure if I should go as they are harder to access.
by Cisyo rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/7/5 06:32

Yeah, it's a pain you can't go back and edit. Sometimes I make typos which I would rather have the option to fix than leave up.

I'm still a little unsure of how long you are planning to spend in any one given place. And also if you are thinking of hiking or HIKING. So it's unclear if you can for example fit all of Hakkoda, Sukayu onsen, Towadako and Oirase stream in one day. Are you hiking in Hakkoda, or just parking and walking around for some pictures? What are your plans for what you want to do in Towadako?

I've not been to Ginzan, but I thought one of the main reasons to go is to overnight. The onsen open to day trippers are not nearly as special. If you're looking for onsen for day trippers you are better off going to Zao, since it has a lot of great day tripper onsen. I stayed overnight, but went to the Daizao rotemboro and Shinzaemon no Yu as well as the onsen in my hotel.

I personally wouldn't stay in Yamagata. When I visited some of Yamagata-ken, I spent 1 night in Sakata and 1 night in Zao.

Tamagawa onsen vs. Nyuto onsen really depend on how much you like onsen and what you like in onsen?

I think there is a lot to see and do in Hiraizumi. I've only been once, but regret I've not been back to see more.

It depends on what your interests are and what you enjoy if the Dewa Sanzan are worth it. I loved visiting Haguro-san. It was the only shrine of the Dewa Sanzan that was open when I was there as Gassan and Yudono-san were still closed from the Winter. I would like to return with a car and visit Gassan and Yudono-san. If you are into mountain climbing or more hardcore hiking I am sure there are some good options outside Sakata at Mt. Chokai.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Where to stay in Tohoku for each attaction 2020/7/5 07:19
Regarding Tamagawa onsen and Nyuto onsen. I have been to both, and they are very different.
Nyuto onsen are some onsen in a green part of the mountains, relatively close to Tazawako. You can visit many different ones in one day (there is a day pass I think to visit 3 different ones). Some are quite touristic (e.g. Tsuruno yu), others less so. All are quite easily reachable by public transport or transport from the onsen themselves. These onsen in general are more for relaxing.

Tamagawa onsen is together with Shin Tamagawa onsen (just next doors, same water) are visited by Japanese for therapeutic reasons. The water is also totally different. It is at pH 1. I liked it, my husband could barely stand it (there are some diluted ones as well, where the pH gets up to maybe 2 or so. (pH 1 is like lemon juice from an acidity level). The onsen building at Shin Tamagawa onsen for me is like a wooden cathedral to onsening. Only the rotenburo part is not special (while in Nyuto onsen it is all about rotenburo). RIght behind Tamagawa onsen, you can (and if you go absolutely should) go and see the origin of the onsen (essentially boiling acid coming out of the ground) and people are lying on nearby stones that are hot from the water, are supposedly radioactive and the air is filled with sulphuric gas from the volcano outlets. When we went all the places to lie down on the radioactive hot stones had gone, and frankly for me the sulphuric gas was too much. But it is a SIGHT!

When we went to Tamagawa onsen, we had a car and made a day trip to Goshogake onsen https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3654.html and Fukenoyu onsen https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3660.html Both were amazing places. In Goshogake onsen we didn't go in the water, just walked around and had a look into all the mud volcanos. You can stand a meter or so from some of them and see them bubbling with boiling mud. See the earth at work. Up in Fukenoyu onsen, you can then bath in these muddy (and a little bit cooled down waters). There are segregated rotenburo but also a mixed one, which I would suggest. It is just in the middle of nature. And you sitting in the muddy waters from a nearby mud volcano. Very different to any other onsen experience.

I think from all my onsen experience in Japan, I would say Fukenoyo (for the mud and nature), Shin-Tamagawa onsen (for the cathedral like wooden building and the acidic waters), Osorezan (for the setting just in front of the temple on top of a volcano) and Kuronagi onsen (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e7575.html) in Kurobe gorge (for the nature around and the monkeys playing in the river below)... have been my personal highlights for onsen.

So yeah, depending on how much you are into onsen, you should not give a miss to Tamagawa onsen. It's a unique experience. Very different from most other onsen in the world. Probably actually unique.

by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

reply to this thread