Explore Tohoku by Train | 8 Unique Sightseeing Tours in Northern Japan

Naruko Gorge in autumn

Have you ever been to Tohoku, the northern part of Japan? How about exploring Tohoku by train? See the spectacular landscapes in northern Japan while enjoying meals of local specialties on the train. Read our suggestions and tips below to prepare for an unforgettable trip by train through Tohoku.

Tohoku by train-sightseeing tours-northern Japan-Resort Asunaro

Resort Asunaro

Asunaro trees, popularly known as the Aomori Hiba trees, are native to Aomori Prefecture. The word “Asunaro” refers to the meaning of tomorrow’s hope.

This sightseeing train is equipped with spacious spaces, interior TV monitors and an observation room behind the driver’s compartment so that passengers can enjoy the magnificent scenery while being on this train trip.

Tohoku by Train Price Details

  • Reserved seat fare is required in addition to basic reserved seat fare for all sections.
  • Example price from Hachinohe – Ominato
    • For adults: 3,060 yen (ticket: 2,530 yen + reserved seat fee 530 yen)
    • For children: 1,510 yen (ticket: 1,250 yen + reserved seat fee 260 yen)
  • The train is mainly operated on weekends and holidays.
  • Capacity: 78 people
  • Reservations can be made online (using JR East Ekinet)
Tohoku by train-sightseeing tours-northern Japan-Sanriku Railway

Sanriku Railway

The Sanriku Railway in Iwate Prefecture has been a symbol of reconstruction following the earthquake and tsunami. It’s also one of the sightseeing trains offering a series of stunning autumn foliage views. The sea urchin bento served on board is also extolled.

Tohoku by Train Price Details

  • Save some dollars by using the Sanriku Railway 1-day free ticket (area coverage is different per pass).
    • Example price from Kamaishi Station – Miyako Station: Adults 2,400 yen, Children 1,200 yen
  • Validity: Any day on a Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday
  • Capacity: 50 people
Tohoku by train-sightseeing tours-northern Japan-Smile Rail Akita Nairiku Line

Smile Rail Akita Nairiku Line

The Smile Rail unhurriedly rattles down the track through the picturesque nature of Akita Prefecture. Emerge yourself in the autumn of Akita with a 360-degree panoramic view from the train windows. Besides, as the name suggests, the train welcomes visitors with smiles, and they hope to see the visitors’ smiles, too.

Tohoku by Train Price Details

  • Special passes are sold at a bargain price, such as the Akita Nairiku Line One Day Pass.
    • For example, Discount Tickets for Overseas Visitors are sold at 2,000 yen for adults and 1,000 yen for children.
  • The passes are sold only during business hours at the station counters.
  • Capacity: 120 people (60 seats and 60 standing spaces)
Tohoku by train-sightseeing tours-northern Japan-JR Rikuuto Line

JR Rikuuto Line

The JR Rikuuto Line connects “Kogota Station” in Miyagi Prefecture to “Shinjo Station” in Yamagata Prefecture. There are many locations along the route where you can perceive the beauty of Tohoku, such as the impressive autumn foliage viewing spots of Naruko Gorge and Naruko Onsen.

Tohoku by Train Price Details

  • Example price from Furukawa Station to Naruko Onsen Station: Adults 680 yen, Children 340 yen
Tohoku by train-sightseeing tours-northern Japan-Sendai Station

Sendai Station

The Sendai Station is the gateway to Tohoku. One can try a wide range of Tohoku specialties at the station, such as the “beef tongue,” “sushi” and “zunda mochi.” Shops selling local souvenirs are lined up, handy for those who want to go for some last-minute shopping. In April 2021, Tekute Sendai opened on the ground floor of Sendai Station. The popular store boasts many gourmet options and lovely shops to explore.

Tohoku by train-sightseeing tours-northern Japan-Flower Liner

Flower Liner

The Flower Nagai Line in Yamagata Prefecture was named after famous spots scattered along the railway with a variety of beautiful flowers. Take the train and enjoy observing flowers from spring to autumn and the entire silver world in winter.

Tohoku by Train Price Details

  • There are commutation tickets and discount tickets you can get.
    • For example, the Saturday / Sunday Free tickets are sold at 1,000 yen (Up to 1 adult and 2 children younger than elementary students)
  • Capacity: 120 people (60 seats and 60 standing spaces)
Tohoku by train-sightseeing tours-northern Japan-Fruitia Fukushima

Fruitia Fukushima

A Cafe x Railroad experience you can try in the fruit kingdom of Fukushima Prefecture. Have your original sweets made onboard by popular local shops using Fukushima’s fruit while gazing at the stunning scenic surroundings.

Tohoku by Train Price Details

  • Example price for a trip from Koriyama Station to Kitakata Station (with Sweets Sets): Adults 5,700 yen
  • Validity: Any day on a Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday
  • Reserved seats only (36 seats)
  • Reservation on JR East Ekinet is required.
Tohoku by train-sightseeing tours-northern Japan-Echigo Tokimeki Resort Yuzuki Hana

Echigo Tokimeki Resort Yuzuki Hana

This resort train ravels the wonderfully scenic route in the Joetsu region of Niigata Prefecture. Enjoy the view of the sea and mountains at the same time while savoring a full-course meal made with hand-picked ingredients.

Tohoku by Train Price Details

  • Joetsu-Myoko Station to Itoigawa Station (French cuisine)
  • Itoigawa Station to Joetsu-Myoko Station (Japanese cuisine)
    • Adults: from 6,000 yen to 32,500 yen
  • Operates only on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays
  • One trip lasts around 3 hours.
  • Capacity: 37 people
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Properties & Places to Stay in Tohoku

Chikusenso Mt.Zao Onsen Resort & Spa

Chikusenso Mt.Zao Onsen Resort & Spa





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