Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 winter – Part 5, from Hirosaki to Kakunodate by Tsugaru and Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway

Hirosaki Castle is one of the best spot to see cherry blossom. But when I was there, it was February and was completely white! (C) JP Rail
Hirosaki Castle is one of the best spot to see cherry blossom. But when I was there, it was February and was completely white! (C) JP Rail

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 winter – Part 4, from Akita to Hirosaki by Resort Shirakami

After I got off Resort Shirakami at Hirosaki, I had 1 hour and 20 minutes to take next train, Limited Express Tsugaru. I knew it was quite tight to visit Hirosaki castle, but it was the first time to visit Hirosaki, so I tried.

Hirosaki station to Hirosaki castle

Hirosaki station has only one ticket gate. It was February. But there was Christmas tree! (C) JP Rail
Hirosaki station has only one ticket gate. It was February. But there was Christmas tree! (C) JP Rail
The sign of 100 yen bus stop. It is located just in front of the  Central exit. (C) JP Rail
The sign of 100 yen bus stop. It is located just in front of the
Central exit. (C) JP Rail

Hirosaki station is not a big terminal station. It has only 2 platforms and 4 tracks. And there is only one ticket gate and two two exits, Central and Joto. It is quite easy to find the direction. Most of tourist use only Central exit. The bus to Hirosaki castle depart from Central exit bus loop. Please see this link of JR East website to get the map of Hirosaki station.

The access to Hirosaki castle is very easy as well. There are a frequent run bus services from Hirosaki station. It’s called “100 yen bus” because fare is only 100 yen. This bus takes a circle route. So when you go back to Hirosaki station, you can catch a bus at same bus stop to Hirosaki station. There are several bus stop around Hirosaki castle. So if you can find another bus stop, you can catch it there too.

Bus runs every 10 to 15 minutes in daytime. I could get on the bus easily. But I spent about 15 minutes to get Hirosaki castle. Now I had only 20 minutes to see Hirosaki castle.

There were lots of snow, but it was nice walk in the park even though I had only 20 minutes. (C) JP Rail
There were lots of snow, but it was nice walk in the park even though I had only 20 minutes. (C) JP Rail

I went through Hirosaki castle park from south to north. Obviously I should had more time to visit here. I need to go back in cherry blossom season.

On the way back, I tried to go back to Hirosaki station on foot. Because the route of 100 yen bus was not straight to the station. And when I took bus to Hirosaki castle, sometimes it took 5 minutes that passengers got off and in because there were only one door on the bus. But I made wrong decision. I did not have a map. My sense of direction is not bad. But Hirosaki station is not closer that that I thought. Most of snow was removed, but it bothered me sometimes. I had to run in the last stretch to Hirosaki station.

Hirosaki to Takanosu by Limited Express Tsugaru

The next trip was from Hirosaki to Takanosu. I was in time and still had 5 more minutes to get next train Limited Express Tsugaru. In Hirosaki, there is a private railway, Konan Railway. One of their two regional lines depart from Hirosaki station.

Konan Railway is located at northernmost in all electric private railways in Japan. (C) JP Rail
Konan Railway is located at northernmost in all electric private railways in Japan. (C) JP Rail

Another line departs from Chuo Hirosaki station that is located near Hirosaki castle. Most of private and third sector railway companies in a rural are in financial difficulties. Konan Railway is facing the same issue too. I would like to take this railway, but I could not find any extra time.

My car was #1. Half ordinary and half Green car. (C) JP Rail
My car was #1. Half ordinary and half Green car. (C) JP Rail

It was first time to take Limited Express Tsugaru by E751 series. Even though it was only 1 hour trip, I enjoyed this trip. E751 series was not very special. But many oldest 485 series still run in this area. I was sure that E751 is much newer and more comfortable.

There is a wall between ordinary section and Green section. (C) JP Rail
There is a wall between ordinary section and Green section. (C) JP Rail
It was very normal limited express train seat. (C) JP Rail
It was very normal limited express train seat. (C) JP Rail

Actually I spent most of time to eat and drink on this train. Because I did not have any extra time to eat in Hirosaki! My lunch was not very special, of course not Hirosaki local food. I bought normal Bento box at convenience store.

Tsugaru and local train at Takanosu station. (C) JP Rail
Tsugaru and local train at Takanosu station. (C) JP Rail

I got off Tsugaru at Takanosu station and transfer to next train in 10 minutes. I know it was super busy trip!

Takanosu to Kakunodate by Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway

Akita Nairiku Railway Takanasu station building is next to JR Takanosu station. It is same place. (C) JP Rail
Akita Nairiku Railway Takanasu station building is next to JR Takanosu station. It is same place. (C) JP Rail

Some part of Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway used to be under Japan National Railway. But JNR wanted to close this lines. So third sector company was established and took over this railway. So it is not covered by any JR passes. This line connects Takanosu with Kakunodate. In cherry blossom season, direct train via this railway from Hirosaki to Kakunodate is operated. Both Hirosaki and Kakunodate are very popular to watch cherry blossom. If you want to travel these two cities, this small railway, AKita Nairiku Jukan Railway is the shortest route.

Akita Nairiku Jukan train departs from same platform as JR trains. (C) JP Rail
Akita Nairiku Jukan train departs from same platform as JR trains. (C) JP Rail

When I took this train, train formation was only one diesel car and most of seats were occupied by high school students.

Interior of Akita Nariku train. It is very common interior of country side diesel car. (C) JP Rail
Interior of Akita Nariku train. It is very common interior of country side diesel car. (C) JP Rail

Trains do not run very frequently. If they miss this train, they have to wait for another one hour.

The train ran along Ani river. It did not look very special. But the scenery is very mild and nice country side. When I was on this train, most of passengers are local. But lady staff tried to sell some foods and souvenirs to make a profit for the company. I decided to contribute for their finance. I bought Custard Pudding that was made from local egg.

This is called "Golden Pudding". It was Yum! (C) JP Rail
This is called “Golden Pudding”. It was Yum! (C) JP Rail

I need to change train at Aniai station where is located in the middle of this line. There are some direct trains between Takanosu and Kakunodate. But their headquarter is located at Aniai. Mostly they change the train, operator and conductor.

The section between Takanosu and Aniai was JNR Aniai line. (C) JP Rail
The section between Takanosu and Aniai was JNR Aniai line. (C) JP Rail

If I had extra time, I wanted to drop by this station. Because there is a local restaurant in the station. The chef had an experience to work at the fancy restaurant in Tokyo. He has very creative horse meat recipes. I wanted to try it. But I did not have enough time to drop by. And also he opens restaurant until 15:00. I was there around 17:00 and no chance. I hope I will try next time.

It was a long trip from Takanosu. But it was very memorable trip for me. (C) JP Rail
It was a long trip from Takanosu. But it was very memorable trip for me. (C) JP Rail

Since it was winter, daylight time was very short. I could not see the scenery for the second half of this railway. When I arrived at Kakunodate, it was completely dark.

Akita Nariku Railway Kakunodate station is same place as JR Kakunodate station. But you have to get off the station to transfer to JR trains. (C) JP Rail
Akita Nariku Railway Kakunodate station is same place as JR Kakunodate station. But you have to get off the station to transfer to JR trains. (C) JP Rail

After I arrived at Kakunodate, I got on Akita Shinkasen to Tokyo. I stayed in Tokyo and started in early morning next day for rush trip to Kawaguchiko.

Continue to Trip to Tohoku and Nagano in 2013 winter – Part 6, round trip to Kawaguchiko from Shinjuku by Azusa and Fuji Kyuko

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