Michinoku Coastal Trail

This post is the first in a series of places you can get to using the JR EAST PASS (Tohoku area). As of May 2022, it's still available for foreign residents to use. 

This past Golden Week, I was all about wanting to have a relaxing time on a trip with minimal planning. When my friend suggested we do some hiking up in the Tohoku region, I was excited because I would finally get the chance to do a bit of the Michinoku coastal trail. If you’re wondering why I said “do a bit”, it’s because this trail is over 1000km long… and I only had an afternoon to spend on it. Not being the most experienced hiker, I did the Hachinohe section of the trail, which was easy on the knees and very scenic.

On the way to the trailhead, I passed by Kabushima Shrine. Looking at it, you wouldn’t be able to tell that it was completely destroyed in a 2015 fire. What you can tell though, is that the place is owned by seagulls because it is their breeding ground. You can spot them circling the shrine in massive flocks from a distance away.

The gulls don’t move out of the way for you. You move out of the way for them.

After leaving the shrine free of any bird droppings, we started on the approximately 10km long trail. It took us 3 hours to get through. We walked through lush green areas that could be homes for hobbits, soft sand beaches with huge seashells, multiple viewpoints to gaze out at the open sea, and a kilometer long pine grove filled with century old trees.

This photo adequately captures what you can expect for most of the trail.
A solemn reminder of the 2011 tragedy, seen as we were nearing Tanesashikaigan Station.

There are two trailheads, so you can start from either Hachinohe in Aomori prefecture or Soma in Fukushima prefecture. The trail is broken up into 28 sections. While doing research for the hike, I came across this super helpful website that lists visitor centers, accommodation options, onsens, grocery stores, and ATMs. It was created by Robin Lewis, the co-founder of mymizu, a company that promotes sustainability and encourages people to cut down on plastic bottle use. They do so by working with many places globally to provide free water refills. We just implemented the initiative at Section L Ginza East (one of our apartment-hotels) in February this year. Drop by anytime for some water and a chat!

Robin had walked 614km of the trail solo in 2017. Just 3 weeks ago, he shared that he will be doing the full trail over 1.5 months. Do check out his website if you’re interested in keeping up with his journey; I sure will!