Our two-day bus journey across the Tohoku region from Amarume Station in Yamagata Prefecture to Taro Station in Iwate Prefecture continues. At the end of the first day, the bus ride from Rokugo Koko Iriguchi to the checkpoint of Kakunodate Station in Akita Prefecture takes 50 minutes. We want to head to Lake Tazawa from here but the last bus bound for Tazawako Station has already left at 4.10pm. We check the timetable and decide to catch the 7.30am bus to Lake Tazawa the next day.
Kakunodate has old houses which used to be samurai residences. The town is nicknamed the “little Kyoto of Tohoku”. We start to look for accommodation and manage to book rooms at Bukeyashiki. It is a Japanese- and Western-style hotel which combines a traditional samurai residence with a modern design. We have dinner at a local cuisine restaurant, ordering Hinai chicken, fluffy omelette rice made with Hinai chicken eggs, sansai tempura and a Japanese-style pizza featuring Japanese pepper miso, chicken and cheese.
The next morning, from Kakunodate, we head north by bus towards Lake Tazawa. With a depth of 423m, it is the deepest lake in Japan. The blue-coloured lake is breathtakingly beautiful. We reach Tazawako Station after a 40-minute ride. Our strategy is to travel east from here, reach Shizukuishi Station in Iwate Prefecture and then transfer to a bus bound for Morioka. However, there are no buses that cross the prefectural border. We decide to use our budget of 10,000 yen for taxis and take one from Tazawako Station to Shizukuishi. We catch the taxi at 8.25am and cross the prefectural border to Iwate.
We decide to alight at the Shizukuishi Chugakko-mae bus stop, which comes on the way. It is 9am by now and lucky for us, there is a bus at 9.05am which goes to Morioka via Shizukuishi Station. The Iwateken Kotsu bus arrives at Morioka Station half an hour after leaving Shizukuishi. We visit the information centre and find out there are fixed-route buses going to Miyako every hour. We are hungry so look for Morioka’s famous reimen. These noodles are made of potato starch, which explains why they are so chewy. We find a shop which opens early and order reimen with thick beef ribs, pork rice bowl and another speciality of Morioka, onmen.
After this, we hop on the 11.40am bus at Morioka Station and go to Miyako. The journey takes more than two hours. From Miyako, the next Taro-bound bus leaves three hours later. We visit Jodogahama Beach, which was recommended by the information centre. Located within Sanriku Fukko National Park, it is one of the most scenic spots in Tohoku, with white volcanic rocks formed by magma 52 million years ago.
We catch the 5.10pm bus bound for Taro via Miyako Hospital and reach our goal of Taro Station at 5.50pm. On this two-day journey, we have travelled nearly 300km across three prefectures in Tohoku. Our reward for reaching the goal by the 6pm deadline is a full-course meal of Sanriku specialities at Nagisatei Taro-an, a luxurious Japanese-style inn.
1) A must-visit town in Akita Prefecture is Kakunodate, known as the “little Kyoto of Tohoku”
2) Jodogahama Beach is one of Tohoku’s most famous scenic spots