From within Japan

map: How to get sanriku coast from within Japan
image: by tohoku shinkansen train
image: by Airplane and Ferry

How to get to the Sanriku Coast of Iwate

Iwate is a HUGE place. Iwate alone is as big as the island of Shikoku in southern Japan (which has FOUR prefectures). Traveling the inland areas without a car is easy enough - the shinkansen runs right up the middle – but getting from the inland to the coast can be a bit tricky.

Renting a car will solve that issue, but that requires an international permit or Japanese license. However, if you have a flexible schedule, it is possible to get mostly everywhere in Iwate with public transportation (and then taking a taxi to your final destination).

Here's some tips to get from the inland to the coast.

If you’re coming by bullet train (shinkansen) from other areas of Japan, you should aim to first arrive at one of the following shinkansen stations:

  • Morioka Station
  • Shin-Hanamaki Station
  • Ichinoseki Station
  • Hachinohe Station (in Aomori)

From Tokyo Station, you can reach any of these stations in around 2 to 2.5 hours. Then you can transfer to another train headed towards the coast.

*Unfortunately, the Sanriku Railway is not part of the JR lines, and therefore you cannot use a JR Pass. You’ll need to purchase tickets for each ride.

Northern coast (Kuji Station)

Reach Kuji by train

Take a shinkansen to Hachinohe Station in Aomori. Transfer to the JR Hachinohe Line, and take it south towards Kuji Station. (Around 2hrs)

Nearby attractions

Central coast (Miyako Station)

Reach Miyako by train

Take a shinkansen to Morioka Station. Transfer to the JR Yamada Line, and take it east towards Miyako Station. (Around 2 hrs)

Nearby attractions

Southern coast (Kamaishi or Ofunato Stations)

Reach Kamaishi by train

Take a shinkansen to Shin-Hanamaki Station. Transfer to the JR Kamaishi Line and take it east towards Kamaishi Station. (Around 2 hrs)

Reach Ofunato by train

Take a shinkansen from to Ichinoseki Station. Transfer to the JR Ofunato Line and take it east towards Kesennuma Station. Transfer to the BRT (a bus that has replaced some damaged areas of the JR Ofunato Line) and continue onward to Sakari Station.(Around 2.5 hrs)

Nearby attractions

  • Daikannon Statue in Kamaishi
  • The Miraculous Lone Pine Tree , a single pine tree that survived the tsunami in Rikuzentakata (Take the BRT from Sakari Station south to Kiseki no Ipponmatsu Station)
  • Goishi Coast in Ofunato (Take the BRT from Sakari Station south to Goishi Kaigan Guchi Station. Walk 40 minutes or take a 10-minute taxi to the Goishi Coast)

Traveling up and down the coast

The good news is that once you’ve reached the coast, you’re easily connected by the JR Hachinohe line (Kuji northward), the Sanriku Railway (Kuji to Sakari/Ofunato), and the BRT bus replacement service (Sakari/Ofunato southward).

Further information

    Official information on visiting Iwate. You can also search for hotels on this site!
  • ROCK ON IWATE (Facebook page)
    Like us on Facebook!
  • Tohoku Road Trip(rental car information in English, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Japanese)
    For those who would like to try their hand at driving on the Sanriku coast.