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Japan Hour

Travelling from Fukushima to Akita by local bus (Part 1)

Another local bus trip awaits us this week and this time, we will travel through Tohoku in winter. We will start from Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima and head by local buses to Yurihonjyo in Akita.

Another local bus trip awaits us this week and this time, we will travel through Tohoku in winter. We will start from Aizu Wakamatsu in Fukushima and head by local buses to Yurihonjyo in Akita.

Aizu Wakamatsu is an old castle town; the most famous spot here is Tsuruga Castle. It is associated with Byakkotai soldiers who committed suicide on Iimoriyama Hill after mistakenly assuming the castle had been captured by the enemy during a battle.

We begin our adventure by boarding the 8.45am retro bus from the Iimoriyama-shita bus stop at the foot of the mountain. We reach Aizu Wakamatsu Station, said to be one of Tohoku’s 100 great stations, after 10 minutes. We want to go to either Yonezawa or Niigata. However, only highway buses go to Niigata from here, so we decide to make our way to Yonezawa via Hara and Koriyama. We have to wait for nearly four hours before the 12.55pm bus bound for Hara comes.

To kill time, we take a bus to Kitakata to try its famous ramen for breakfast before returning to Aizu Wakamatsu Station. We also request a staff member at the station to find out if there is a bus going to Koriyama from Hara and let us know once we’re back. We hop on the 9.20am bus going to Kitakata Eigyousho. At Kitakata, we visit a “Ramen Shrine” and museum depicting the history of Kitakata ramen. The town has about 120 ramen stores and we choose to eat at Genraiken. The owner’s grandfather from China had opened the first ramen shop in Kitakata. After relishing the shop’s famous ramen, we return to the station.

The gentleman at the Aizu Wakamatsu Station informs us there is no connecting bus to Koriyama from Hara. So he suggests that we go to Takasaka instead and then walk. So we wait for another two hours and catch the 2.40pm bus. It takes us about an hour to reach Takasaka, after which we have to walk for 6km in the snow to the bus stop at Konan High School. We take a break at a gas station and meet someone who volunteers to give us a ride to the bus stop, which is 20 minutes away by foot. At the bus stop, we have to wait for more than half an hour before the bus bound for Kibogaoka arrives at 6pm. As it is cold, we wait at a restaurant in front of the bus stop.

Later, the bus driver advises us to alight at Otsukishako if we want to transfer buses to Koriyama. From Otsukishako, it takes us another half an hour to reach Koriyama at 7.15pm. We want to head to Fukushima next. After making enquiries, we are told to go to Nihonmatsu first via Bandai Atami, Motomiya and Dake Onsen. However, there is no bus going to Atami today so we have to spend the night at Koriyama and catch the 6.30am bus the following day. We manage to find a hotel with available rooms after much difficulty and have dinner at the Sanmatsu restaurant.

On the second day, we take the bus bound for Bandai Atami, alight at Ota Hospital and then transfer to a community bus to head to Motomiya city. We then find out that one needs to pre-register to take the community bus from Dake Onsen to Nihonmatsu. So we decide to abandon our plan to go to Dake Onsen and opt to walk 7km to Nihonmatsu from Motomiya. At Nihonmatsu, we catch the bus which departs for Fukushima Station at 1.20pm.

At the station, we visit the information centre to plan our journey ahead. We want to cross the prefectural border and enter Miyagi Prefecture. We are advised to take the 4pm bus to Fujita in Kunimi-machi, which is near the border. But after that, we have walk 6km through the mountain pass to Shimizu. It has started snowing again so we take break by dropping by a shop selling fruits. After munching on some San Fuji apples, we resume walking upslope. We finally cross the border, leaving Fukushima and entering Miyagi at 6pm, after walking for two hours. We find a bus stop and board the last bus to Shiroishi Station. It leaves at 6.15pm and we reach the station at 6.40pm.

We want to catch the 7pm bus to Zaou Royal Hotel. But after asking around, we realise there is no local bus heading to our next destination, Yamagata, from Royal Hotel. We do find out there may be a local bus going to Yamagata from Sendai, but the bus from Royal Hotel to Sendai is an express not local bus. We go to the tourist information centre to find out how to get to Sendai but it closes at 5.30pm.


1) Ramen is a popular breakfast choice in Kitakata
2) Pre-registration is required for some community buses


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