length

8 Days

difficulty

Challenging - Strenuous

trip cost

From $3290 pp

Icons / stylised / time Created with Sketch.

length

8 Days

Icons / stylised / difficulty Created with Sketch.

difficulty

Challenging - Strenuous

Icons / stylised /cost Created with Sketch.

trip cost

From $3290 pp

Nature Immersion

Cultural Interest

Self Guided Trip

our walk expert

  • Overview
  • Highlights
  • The Experience
  • Itinerary
  • Map
  • Inclusions
  • Similar walks

Overview

Michinoku Coastal Trail - Northern Section (Self Guided)

We invite you to discover the magic of Japan’s new Michinoku Coastal Trail on our 8-day self-guided adventure. Located in the beautiful Tohoku region, this new trail offers one of the most diverse and immersive walking experiences you’ll find in Japan. 

Our unique self-guided itinerary along the 235km-long northern section is within the stunning Sanriku Fukko National Park. The impressive and scenic trail takes hikers along seaside cliff tops and through dense forests, pine groves, grassy pastures and even hand-carved tunnels. Peaceful fishing villages and idyllic beaches are dotted along the route. Traditional shrines and temples are located near the trail.

Yellow hiker icon We are Japan experts! As the most established Australian operator on this trail, we have the best local contacts, advice and resources.

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Highlights

Get Ready For

  • Stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean
  • Delicious fresh seafood from the fishing ports of Sanriku
  • Untamed and rugged coastlines, inlets, verdant forests, and small villages
  • Iconic Jodogahama Beach, known for its picturesque cobalt blue waters
  • Historic shrines, atmospheric temples and significant landmarks
  • Oceanside accommodations and soothing onsen hot springs
  • Traditional, fresh, multi-platter meals, highlighting local, seasonal produce
  • Wonderful Japanese hospitality
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The Experience

Hiking the MCT Trail

The Michinoku Coastal Trail (MCT) is a demanding walk that is best suited to those with a good level of physical fitness. There is plenty of dramatic scenery and challenging terrain, with steep ups and downs, dense forests, high clifftops, and remote beaches. The stone and log stairs can be covered with moss and leaves. There are also tunnels (headtorch required) and patches of rocky coastline with ladders and ropes. The bear warning signs add to the sense of adventure. It’s best to hike the MCT during spring (March to June) and autumn (September to November) as summer is hot and humid and in winter it’s covered with snow.

Itinerary

daily details

Day 1: Arrive Hachinohe

The easiest way to reach Hachinohe is by bullet train from Tokyo on the Hayabusa Line (for Shin-Aomori). Trains run approximately every hour. Expect a journey of just under 3 hours. Upon arrival at Hachinohe station, transfer to the local Hachinohe Line, which will take you to Hon-Hachinohe station.

Your accommodation is conveniently situated downtown, which is a great starting point for immersing yourself in the local culture and history. You may like to visit the nearby Hachinohe Portal Museum, where exhibits showcase the area’s rich heritage, natural beauty, and historical significance. Art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the Hachinohe Art Museum, though please note that most displays are in Japanese (a translation app will come in handy).

This evening you may like to treat yourself to an authentic dining experience at one of Hachinohe’s traditional Izakaya eateries. Wander through the quaint old side alleys, where hidden culinary gems await. Indulge in local delicacies and savour the unique ambiance of these time-honoured establishments.

With less than 2% of international travellers exploring Tohoku, you’ll find yourself immersed in a genuine cultural experience. While English may not be widely spoken, this adds to your journey as you connect with locals and uncover the true essence of this enchanting destination. 

From its rich history to its culinary delights and vibrant culture, Hachinohe offers a captivating blend of old-world charm and modern allure.

Meals: n/a

Day 2: Hachinohe to Tanesashi (9.5km / 4–5 hours)

Today’s walk begins with an easy journey from Hon-Hachinohe to Same (pronounced Sah-meh) station. From there, a short stroll will lead you to the Sanriku Fukku National Park and the Kabushima Shrine, marking the northernmost point of the Tanesashi Coast and the official start (or end) point of the Michinoku Coastal Trail.

Hachinohe, renowned as a vital industrial fishing port, has a long-standing tradition of locals visiting the Kabushima Shrine to seek blessings for prosperity in their businesses and fishing endeavours. The area surrounding the shrine serves as a habitat for black-tailed gulls from late February to August.

After exploring the shrine, a brief walk alongside the road leads to the Ashigezaki Viewpoint. This vantage point, once an observation post during WWII, offers stunning views along the coastline. You may also like to indulge in some of the region’s finest ice cream at the nearby café. This section of the trail showcases wildflowers from spring to autumn, adding to its picturesque scenery.

Continuing south, you’ll soon reach Osuka Beach, offering a refreshing opportunity for a dip, weather permitting. You’ll pass by some fishing huts before entering the Yodo Pine Grove, characterised by majestic black pines, some dating back over a century. The grove also features the Shira-Iwa or ‘White rock,’ a nesting spot for Japanese cormorants.

Emerging from the pine grove, you’ll reach the Tanesashi Coast Natural Lawn, once a grazing ground for horses until the mid-50s. This is a great spot to take a break and savour the panoramic ocean views. You may like to grab some lunch from the café adjacent to the Tanesashi-Kaigan Information Centre. The Centre, which is also worth a visit, offers insights into the unique ecosystem along this coastline.

After taking in the surroundings, return to Hachinohe by train from Tanesashi.

Options for enhancement

Option 1: If your arrangements commence on a Saturday, we recommend taking the opportunity to explore the Tatehana Wharf Sunday Market before starting your walk today. This bustling market features around 300 stalls offering an array of delectable treats including tasty meat skewers, dumplings, fresh fruit, bakery items, and coffee. It’s also ideal to stock up on provisions for the day’s hike. 

Option 2: For those seeking an extended walk, you can continue onward for another 2.3km to Okuki Station, approximately a half-hour stroll. Be mindful of the train schedule back to Hon-Hachinohe as services aren’t frequent.

Meals: B

Day 3: Kuwahata Port to Kuji (14.5km/ 5-6 hours)

After breakfast, your journey continues with a 30-minute transfer southward, bypassing some lengthier road sections, as you re-enter the trail in Iwate Prefecture. Today marks the beginning of a more rugged coastline, characterised by elevated terrain and breathtaking vistas.

Your hike will lead you through a stretch of forest before arriving at the Samurai-ishi rock slabs, an ideal spot to pause and take in the scenery. Continuing southward along the trail, you’ll be treated to spectacular views until you reach the Kita-Samuraihama Campground, a perfect lunch stop.

Resume your hike towards the Yokonuma Viewpoint, offering picturesque panoramas of the coastline. You’ll then traverse through a valley, catching glimpses of the sea before ascending into a forested area with towering red pines. Crossing a stream, you’ll soon encounter a little fishing port before ascending once more into the lush forest.

The trail brings you to the Itsukushima Shrine, a sacred site (the head shrine of which is located on Miyajima Island near Hiroshima). Take your time to explore before continuing along the road and outskirts leading into Kuji, where you’ll find the Moguranpia Aquarium. From here, you’ll be transferred to your accommodation for the evening.

Relax and soak in the onsen before enjoying a dinner at your accommodation, culminating a day of exploration along the captivating coastline.

Meals: B, D

Day 4: Fudai Station to Kurasaki-so Viewpoint (6.5km / 4 hours)

Following breakfast, a short transfer will take you to Noda Station, from where you’ll take a train to Fudai and begin your hike. Some parts of the walk will take you along the road as you depart from this quiet, small town. Fudai has a remarkable history, evident as you pass by the school and the impressive 15.5m seawall, dubbed the ‘Miracle Floodgate’. This seawall played a pivotal role in protecting the town and its community from the devastating 2011 tsunami, as indicated by markings on the wall showing the height of the water at its peak. Continuing along the road, you’ll pass through several tunnels, while also enjoying breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

You might consider stopping at a small fishing port for a leisurely lunch before continuing along the coast and taking in the views. Soon after leaving the fishing port, you’ll arrive at the Nedari Nature Trail, a picturesque path offering views akin to an open aquarium on clear, calm days. This spot is perfect for slowing down and immersing yourself in the natural beauty surrounding you. Following a short tunnel through the cliff, there is a steep stair climb to reach the Kurasaki-so Observation Point, where you’ll also find your accommodation for the evening.

Meals: B, D

Day 5: Kitayamazaki Lookout to Kurasaki-so Viewpoint (9km / 5 hours)

This morning your journey begins with a transfer to the Kitayamazaki Lookout. We highly recommend visiting the Visitor Centre and exploring each of the lookout points to take in the breathtaking panoramic views along the 200m-high sea cliffs spanning 8km of coastline. 

Depending on the season, you might also consider taking a walk along the Nature Trail Loop before setting off on the Michinoku Trail. This area is renowned for its white rhododendrons, typically in bloom around June, and is designated as a prefectural natural monument.

Today’s adventure takes you north on the trail, leading you back to the Kurasaki-so Viewpoint. After descending into the forest from Kitayamazaki Lookout, you’ll encounter a steep ascent of approximately 120m. From this vantage point, it’s a great hike along the coast, navigating undulating terrain. Be prepared for a final, short, steep ascent to reach the Kurasaki-so Observation Point and your accommodation.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 6: Kitayamazaki Lookout to Tanohata (10km / 6 hours)

This morning, your journey commences with a transfer to the Kitayamazaki Lookout, and the beginning of today’s challenging hike. While the distance covered may not be extensive, the ascents and descents over the next few kilometres will prove to be a challenge and slow you down. However, the rewards will be well worth the effort, as you’ll be treated to incredible views and stunning scenery along the way. Adequate training for this trail is crucial, especially today, as it is considered the most demanding day of the entire trail.

The hike begins with a stair descent to the beach before heading inland to navigate through the forest. As you progress, you’ll encounter a series of stairs to ascend out of the valley, followed by a winding trail along the cliff-top. Further along, a shorter descent leads to another stretch of valley before another climb, followed by a descent down log stairs. Afterward, you’ll hike up and around the next ridgeline, before arriving at Tsukue Beach.

Continuing along, the trail will lead you across a series of beaches and through several tunnels. These hand-carved tunnels, though only a few hundred meters in length, are pitch dark, requiring a head torch for navigation. To reach one of the tunnels, you’ll need to walk around a large rock. On the rare occasion that the tide is too high, you’ll need to descend a ladder, which is a few metres high and is affixed to the rock. There’s a short stretch of easy rock-hopping before the last tunnel. You’ll then ascend from the beach, which includes two short, affixed ladders and a series of log stairs. 

Returning into the forest, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views along the coast until reaching the fisherman’s huts at Tsukue-hama Beach. Following a well-deserved break, you’ll walk briefly alongside the road before returning to the trail and ascending log steps. You’ll enjoy beautiful views overlooking Tsukue-hama Beach before continuing onward to Aketo Beach. Along the way, you’ll pass by the Rikuchu Bentenzaki Lighthouse, offering panoramic views to the north and south.

The trail rejoins the sea road and you’ll soon arrive at the Aketo Seawall Monument. It’s just a short distance further on to your accommodation. After checking in, take the opportunity to unwind and rejuvenate with a well-deserved soak in the soothing onsen overlooking the ocean.

Meals: B, L, D

Day 7: Shiofuki-ana Blowhole to Jodogahama Beach (7km / 4 hours)

Following a hearty buffet breakfast you’ll embark on a short transfer further south along the coast, bypassing some longer road stretches of the trail, until you reach the Shiofuki-ana Blowhole. This picturesque viewpoint offers a wonderful spectacle, where, if luck is on your side, you may witness the blowhole in action. Nestled beneath the blowhole is a sea cave, and when the waves are strong, water is propelled through the blowhole, reaching heights of up to 30m. Designated as a national natural monument, the blowhole is best experienced with a northeast wind and rough waves. From this vantage point, you’ll also see Hideshima Island, another designated natural monument, known as the largest habitat for the endangered Madeiran storm petrel.

After soaking in the scenery, begin your hike which offers several ascents and descents with even more stunning vistas to admire. The trail meanders inland, crossing a stream and ascending out of the valley. Along the way, you’ll be surrounded by spectacular trees, including pine, fir, maple, Japanese magnolias, and a giant bamboo grove, making for a truly enchanting hike until you reach the Takonohama Fishing Port. The final leg of the journey weaves along the cliffs and through a couple of tunnels, leading you to the picturesque Jodogahama Beach.

You may consider stopping at the resthouse near Jodogahama Beach for a leisurely lunch before further exploration. A little further along you’ll find the Jodogahama Visitor Centre offering additional insights into the area. If the weather is warm, you can enjoy a swim in the gorgeous, clear water. Alternatively, indulge in a relaxing soak in the onsen at your accommodation, allowing your tired legs to rejuvenate after a wonderful and often challenging hike.

Meals: B, D

Day 8: Depart Jodogahama Beach

After enjoying breakfast there is an option to take a bus transfer to the city of Morioka, located approximately 1.5 hours inland from the coast. From Morioka, you can take a bullet train to Tokyo. The Hayabusa Line is the best choice, this time heading south to Tokyo, which will take approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Alternatively, if you wish to extend your stay in Jodogahama to unwind or explore more of the area, you have the option to do so. Please enquire at the time of booking, if this is your preference.

Meals: B

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Map

Explore

Hachinohe

Hachinohe (Aomori Prefecture) is famed for its thriving fishing industry and vibrant morning markets teeming with diverse marine delicacies. Beyond its culinary allure, Hachinohe exudes cultural richness through its centuries-old Kabushima Shrine, seaside landscapes, and the spirited Sansha Taisai festival celebrating tradition and community unity.

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Tatehana Wharf Market

This massive morning market is the pride of Hachinohe and the largest in Japan. it is one of the hottest spots in Hachinohe and an absolute must-visit on any trip to the area. The market is more than just a market, it is a place many local people come to socialise. Often there is live music playing, and many people have breakfast and coffee with their friends and families after they finish shopping.

Kabushima Shrine

The picturesque Kabushima Shrine is on a small hill surrounded by the hill on the northernmost point of the Tanesashi Coast. It is the official starting (or ending) point of the Michinoku Coastal Trail.

Tanesashi Coast Natural Lawn

This beautiful spot on the Tanesashi Coast offers a luxury glamping site with breathtaking views of the rugged, rocky shoreline. The sunrise and sunsets here are magnificent. View the starry night sky then fall asleep to the sound of the waves

Yokonuma Viewpoint

The Yokonuma Viewpoint is a jaw-dropping photogenic spot with incredible views along the coastline. From the viewpoint, you’ll head into a valley with glimpses of the coast before ascending into a forested area with giant red pines.

Fudai Station

The station of this small village is the starting point for our walk past the 15.5m seawall (nicknamed the ‘Miracle Floodgate’) that helped save the town and community in the 2011 tsunami. You can see by a marking on the wall, just how high the water  reached.

Tsukue-hama Beach

The decent to the pebbly Tsukue-hama Beach involves an adventurous hike along a series of beaches and through a number of hand-carved tunnels. The fisherman’s huts destroyed by the tsunami have been rebuilt and now offer visitors an insight in the regional culture. Nearby is a wonderful onsen overlooking the ocean.

Sakiyama Blowhole

The Sakiyama Blowhole is a lovely, picturesque viewpoint that is a designated national, natural monument. From the blowhole you can see Hideshima Island, also a designated natural monument and the largest habitat for the endangered Madeiran storm petrel.

Jodogahama Beach

Jodogahama Beach (Iwate Prefecture) is known for its picturesque cobalt blue waters, white pebbles, and distinct hexagonal rock formations that resemble giant steps – a geological wonder and a prominent feature of the beach.

Inclusions

What's included?

Included
  • 7-nights’ accommodation
  • Daily meals (as listed in the itinerary)
  • Transfers indicated in itinerary on days 3 to 7
  • Luggage transfers (from days 3 to 7)
  • RAW Travel’s exclusive interactive navigation app
  • Pre-departure orientation with our local representative
  • Local and Australian emergency contacts
  • Carbon offset for your trip and native tree planted for every walker
Excluded
  • Single supplement – ask for a quote if you would like a single room
  • Flights 
  • Travel insurance
  • Drinks other than water at meals 
  • Train tickets
  • Expenses of a personal nature

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TRIP date selection

when would you like to travel?

Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed

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