I think this post is nothing special for the frequent travellers. Because I got on Tokaido Shinkansen, Tohoku Shinkansen, Akita Shinkansen and local train to Matsushima (松島). Since I think the access to Matsushima is the most technical part in this trip, I have already posted about this at Easy trip from Sendai. How to access to Matsushima by Japan Rail Pass. But even other part of this trip might help the first time visitors. So I would like to write about this trip.
I would like to mention to you before read this post. This is very tight and busy schedule. Even though I enjoyed it, I really don’t recommend you to copy this itinerary. It was like familiarization trip.
Shin-Osaka to Tokyo by Tokaido Shinkansen
Shin-Osaka 06:08 (Hikari #504) 09:10 Tokyo
I left my hometown station Amagasaki around 05:30 am. It is only 3 station away from Shin-Osaka (新大阪). After I was on local train for 12 minutes, I arrived at Shin-Osaka station. I was going to take Hikari #504 by the newest train set N700 series.
Before I got on the train, I dropped in convenience store to get some breakfast. 🙂
I really wanted to take N700 series because all window side seats, all seats at the first row and the last row have a power outlet.
Since I am freelance, I sometimes have to work even on the pleasure trip. A power connection is always one of my biggest concern.
When you take Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo (東京) and Shin-Osaka / Kyoto (京都), I recommend you to get window side “E”. E is a mountain side. You can see Mt. Ibuki (伊吹山), Lake Hamana (浜名湖) and Mt. Fuji (富士山). Please click the following images to enlarge. But those pictures are not excellent. 🙁
Tokyo to Sendai by Tohoku Shinkansen
Tokyo 09:36 (Hayabusa #3) 11:12 Sendai
Hikari #504 was delayed for 15 minutes. I supposed to have 26 minutes to transfer in Tokyo station. But I had to rush! Because I needed to go through transfer gate to conventional line and Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokaido Shinkansen platform. Those are same Shinkansen. But it is different. It is very complicated for the first time visitor. Both Tokaido and Tohoku are Shinkansen line. But these Shinkansen lines are under different companies. Tokaido Shinknasne is operated and owned by JR Central. Tohoku Shinkansen is operated and owned by JR East. If you use Japan Rail Pass, you can take both Shinkansen. But you need to go through transfer gate and change platform. If you need to get more information about Tokyo station, please see the post, Tokyo station guide. How to change the trains, Shinkansen, Narita Express and other local trains.
Anyway I had moved to Tohoku Shinkansen platform and finally met the newest Shinkansen Hayabusa by E5 series.
I could see both the oldest 200 series (left) and the newest E5 series (right) at same time. Gran class is well known on Hayabusa. But my budget was very tight. I had just JR pass ordinary. So I got on reserved ordinary.
In ordinary class of E5 series, there is a power outlet at window side. I got a window side seat again and connect my laptop. I organized my pictures, read timeline of facebook and work. On Tohoku Shinkansen, actually we cannot enjoy the scenery very much because there are lots of tunnels. So I watched my laptop screen most of time in Hayabusa.
Return trip to Matsushima from Sendai by Senseki line local train
Sendai 11:21 (Local) 12:00 Matsushima-Kaigan 13:34 (Local) 14:08 Sendai
After arrival at Sendai (仙台), I transferred to local train on Senseki line (仙石線) to Matsushima-Kaigan (松島海岸).
There are several station where is the gateway to Matsushima. I think Matsushima-Kaigan station on Senseki line is the best location to access most of places in Matsushima. At Sendai station, Sensaki line’s platform was located underground. It was like subway.
*I have already written about transfer to Senseki line at Sendai station and access to Matsushima on other post. Please refer this post about transfer in Sendai station and access to Matsushima.
Matsushima is one of “Three View of Japan” (日本三景). And it is one of the places where I really wanted to go because I had never been there. When I planned this trip, I tried to squeeze the places in Tohoku as many as possible. I wanted to put Matsushima, Kakunodate (角館), Aizu (会津), Hiraizumi (平泉) and Yamadera (山寺). But my schedule was too short to put more than three places. I gave up Aizu, Hiraizumi and Yamadera and kept Matsushima and Kakunodate in my itinerary.
As you know, Tohoku region was damaged by Great earthquake in 2011. However Matsushima was not damaged so much since there are lots of islands in the bay of Matsushima. These islands protected this area as seawall from Tsunami.
After arrival at Matsushima Kaigan station, I walked toward Oshima island (雄島). It is well known as one of the best view point in Matsushima. It is only 500 m away from the station and very accessible. But Oshima island could not be accessed because the bridge was broken. So I went to other view point, Godaido (五大堂). This is a small temple in the tiny island. It is very accessible and lots of restaurant and souvenir stores around this island.
And then, it was lunch time. But I did not eat in the restaurant. I will tell you the reason later. I took out Oyster curry fried bread and charcoal‐broiled oyster.
Oyster is the most popular local favorite food here in Matsushima, Miyagi prefecture. Why not? I had to to taste it! I had never eat oyster curry fried bread. It was very yummy!!! I strongly recommend you to taste it when you go to Matsushima.
I still had 45 minutes since I did not spend much time to eat. I decided to go to “Saigyo Modoshi no Matsu Park” (西行戻しの松公園). It is 1.7 km away from the station and is located at he hill behind the station. I was not sure I could get therein 45 minutes, but I tried it anyway. I did it!
But too many signs made me be complicated. If you want to go there, expect to spend at least 1 hour. I almost ran on the way back to the station.
Sendai to Kakunodate by Akita Shinkansen
Sendai 14:38 (Komachi #27) 16:16 Kakunodate
After I came back to Sendai station, I got on Komachi #27. Before I was on board, I needed to buy Eki-Ben.
This is the reason why I did not eat a big lunch at Matsushima. This is beef tongue bento. Sendai station sells most many kinds of Eki-Ben in Japan. Beef tongue is most favorite local food in Sendai. Yummy again!
Akita Shinkansen is smaller than other Shinkansen trains. Because this Shinkansen train goes on conventional lines between Morioka and Akita. The interior looks like common limited express train. The ordinary seat on this train do not have any power outlet. I just uploaded the pictures from digital camera to laptop and took nap!
Kakunodate is very popular in cherry blossom season. I knew it was not right time to visit there. But I was really interested in samurai district in this town, Kakunodate. This town used to have a castle. It is no longer existing, but there are lost of preserved samurai housing.
Kakunodate station is very small and has only two platforms. Nobody miss the direction! When I stepped out from the train, it was very freezing. After the train left Morioka (盛岡) station, there were lots of snow because of inland. I expected it but it was more than what I expected.
I exit from Kukunodate station and I dropped in tourist information center beside the station. I got some maps and check the direction to Samurai district. Of course they have English map too.
Samurai district is 15 minutes away from the station. It was snow squalling but I really enjoyed Edo period (Samurai period) culture. Of course it is much more beautiful in cherry blossom season. But it was very quiet and nobody bothered. I really liked that season. There are many nice and cozy souvenir shops. I did not have enough time to drop in.
I really recommend to visit this small town. It is easy access and beautiful scenery.
Kakunodate to Aomori by Akita and Tohoku Shinkansen
Kakunodate 17:15 (Komachi #36) 18:05 Morioka 18:26 (Hayate #33) 19:28 Shin-Aomori 19:38 (Super Hakucho 33) 19:45 Aomori
After I left Kakunodate, I was heading to Aomori (青森). But I had to change the train at Morioka. Because all trains, “Komachi” on Akita Shinkansen are combined with Hayate at Morioka and go to Tokyo. There is no Akita Shinkansen train that go directly to Shin-Aomori.
I got on Hayate from Morioka. This train was operated by same type of train set, E5 series as Hayabusa. All E3 series Hayate will be replaced by E5 series sooner or later.
I could not see anything because it was after sunset. But as I mentioned, there are lots of tunnels on Tohoku Shinkansen. Especially most parts of the newest section between Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori are tunnels. I could not see many things anyway.
After I arrived at Shin-Aomori (新青森), I took Super Hakucho to move only one station to Aomori.
*If you need more information about transfer at Shin-Aomori station, please see the post, Shin-Aomori station guide. How to change the train, Shinkansen, Super Hakucho and other local trains.
I could not face to windward since it was like blizzard. It was very hard to take even above picture.
After arriving Aomori, I spent a few hours in Aomori and got on Overnight Express Hamanasu. If you would like to continue to read, please read this post, My trip from Aomori to Sapporo on March 19, 2012 by Hamanasu Carpet car..