This 9-day Walking Tour in Japan Takes You to One of the Most Scenic Trails in the World

Starting in Hachinohe and ending in Kesennuma, this Michinoku Coastal Trail itinerary seeks to bring responsible tourism back to the hard-hit region.

<p>Solveig PLACIER/Getty Images</p>

Solveig PLACIER/Getty Images

Tracing the northeastern edge of Japan’s main island of Honshu is a pathway stretching more than 620 miles through pristine beaches, elevated clifftops, enchanting forests, and grassy meadows. Stunning and remote, the Michinoku Coastal Trail represents so much more.

This is the exact area in the Tohoku region that was hardest hit by the earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11, 2011 — 13 years ago this month — taking the lives of nearly 18,000 people, in one of the greatest natural disasters in modern history.

The trail, which opened in 2019, first started as a reconstruction project of coastal damage but has grown into a tangible road of the resiliency of the region.

As one of its signature itineraries, walking tour company Walk Japan offers a 9-day itinerary along a section of the trail from Hachinohe to Kesennuma.

“Throughout this region, the qualities of resilience, persistence, generosity, sense of community and kindness commonly found in Japan are abundantly clear,” the company says on its site of this tour. “Wherever we go on our travels we are warmly welcomed by the locals into their midst.”

<p>Solveig PLACIER/Getty Images</p> The Hachinohe Sanctuary along the Michinoku Coastal Trail

Solveig PLACIER/Getty Images

The Hachinohe Sanctuary along the Michinoku Coastal Trail

Among the highlights along the way are the Kabushima Shinto shrine, Samurai-ishi massive rock slabs, Kuwadai Pass, and Kitayama-zaki and Jodogahama viewpoints, as well as time in Ofunato fishing ports and the villages of Fudai and Yoshihama. A portion of the journey will also be on the Sanriku Railway and Sanriku train.

Each day includes about five to seven miles of walking — and is suitable for anyone who can walk for about three to four hours comfortably. While there are sharp inclines, long descents, and moderate passes, the trail along this portion is generally “gently undulating.”

The fully guided trip includes stays at local hotels and charming inns along the way, mostly with views overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Eight breakfasts and dinners are included, as well as five lunches. Many of the meals are focused on local seafood.

Though the itinerary is offered in the spring, the departures are all booked. As of press time, there are spots available on the fall tours, including departures on Sept. 28; Oct. 5, 17, and 26; and Nov. 7. Rates start from 460,000 Japanese yen, which is currently about $3,115 per person.

Walk Japan, which was founded in 1992, focuses on unexpected tours throughout the country. Its other signature offerings include the Tohoku Aizu Explorer, Onsen Gastronomy: Oita and Kumamoto, and Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage.

Other companies that offer tours along the Michinoku Coastal Trail include G Adventures with an 11-day trip that also includes Tokyo and Kyoto and Oku Japan with a self-guided seven-day adventure.

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