Train Adventure in Tohoku (Part 2)
The race from Morioka to Hakkoda Mountains continues for the bus and train teams, with a waiting game at Tohoku's largest fish market, a mad dash to train stations and a surprising twist at the end.
The showdown between the bus and train teams continues as they race from Morioka City in Iwate Prefecture to the Hakkoda Mountains in Aomori Prefecture. The bus team has Yoshikazu Ebisu, Akina Minami and Yosuke Tagawa, while the train team comprises Miki Murai, Sugi-chan and Miki Nishino. By the end of the first day, the train team is slightly ahead of the bus team and both groups have cleared the first checkpoint of Hachimantai Onsenkyo. The train team manages to reach Hachinohe Station and books a room at Hachino Yuyu Land Shinpachi Onsen. It is near the second checkpoint of Hassyoku Centre, the biggest fish market in the Tohoku region. The other team, meanwhile, checks into Kitaguni Ryokan in Kindaichi Onsen, Ninohe.
The next morning, the bus team takes a taxi from Ninohe to the town centre, before hopping on the 7.05am bus heading towards Hachinohe. Out of the 10,000 yen given to each team to take taxis, the bus team now only has 1,400 yen left. The team manages to cross the prefectural border from Iwate and enters Aomori Prefecture. The members are told that to go to Hassyoku Centre, they should alight at the Muikamachi bus stop in Mikkamachi and take the 8.15am bus to Hachinohe Station.
Meanwhile, the train team starts the second day by walking to Hassyoku Centre, which opens at 9am. The market sells luxurious seafood such as oysters and hairy crabs. The team has breakfast at one of the shops here. After they have eaten and are leaving the market, they meet the bus team, who actually arrived at the place at 8.45am. The bus team was in fact hiding from them and waited for them to finish their food.
The bus team also orders rice bowls at Hassyoku Centre. The next bus to Hachinohe Station will only come at 10.30am, nearly an hour later. So the team decides to take a big risk and use the remaining 1,400 yen to take a taxi directly to Hachinohe Station.
The train team has to walk for 40 minutes to return to Hachinohe, which is 3km away. It is already 9.40am by this time and the train will leave at 10am. Ms Nishino and Ms Murai decide to run to the station, with Sugi-chan struggling to keep up with them.
The bus team spends 1,390 yen on the taxi ride to Hachinohe Station. The members drop by the station’s tourist information centre to find out the best bus route to go to the Hakkoda Mountains. They are advised to take the 10.20am bus to Towada City and then switch buses to head to Yakeyama. In Yakeyama, there is a direct bus to the Hakkoda Mountains.
Meanwhile, the train team manages to reach Hachinohe Station just in time to take the train to Tsutsui Station. It is about 22km away from the Hakkoda Mountains. From Tsutsui, they walk for about 2km before taking a taxi to the cable car station of the Hakkoda Mountains. As for the bus team, the members alight at Yakeyama and have to wait for the JR bus which goes directly to the Hakkoda Mountains.
While walking from Tsutsui Station, the train team stops at a hair salon called Little Papa to call for a taxi. It arrives in 20 minutes. The team only has around 5,500 yen left, so they hope it will be enough for the taxi ride to the cable car station.
At the same time, the other team is still waiting for the bus which goes directly to the goal. It comes late and is packed as during this season, the road to the Hakkoda Mountains along the Oirase mountain stream is the perfect spot to see the autumn leaves. An additional bus is arranged and it only leaves nearly 20 minutes after the scheduled time. To the team’s dismay, the bus stops right before the Hakkoda Mountains for 10 minutes so that passengers can take a bathroom break. It finally leaves at 2.45pm and heads straight to the cable car station.
The bus team arrives at the cable car station of the Hakkoda Mountains at 3.30pm. The team members think they have won the race and are ready to celebrate. However, they are shocked when they realise that the train team is already here. The winning train team had actually reached the goal an hour ago, right around the time the other team’s bus stopped for a bathroom break. In fact, the train team managed to take the taxi all the way and miraculously arrived at the cable car station with 10 yen left out of their 10,000-yen taxi money.
1) Try the seafood rice bowls at Hassyoku Centre, the biggest fish market in Tohoku
2) Bus and taxi drivers are the ideal guides to advise you on the best route to your destination