The Akita Shinkansen is a high speed bullet train rail route that connects Tokyo with destinations in Iwate Prefecture and Akita Prefecture. This shinkansen route is a branch line of the Tohoku Shinkansen. Akita Shinkansen services follow the Tohoku Shinkansen between Tokyo Station and Morioka Station. Beyond Morioka Station the Akita Shinkansen branches off from the Tohoku Shinkansen and follows the Tazawako Line to Omagari Station. Beyond Omagari Station it then follows the Ou Main Line to Akita Station.
The region served by the Akita Shinkansen is famous for its natural beauty, hot spring spas, ski resorts, and dynamic summer festivals.
The train service that runs on the Akita Shinkansen is called the Komachi. The train is named after the poet Ono no Komachi who was born in Akita Prefecture and who was famous for her beauty. Between Tokyo and Morioka Komachi services are coupled to Hayabusa services. At Morioka the two services separate, and while the Hayabusa continues on the Tohoku Shinkansen toward Shin-Aomori, the Komachi is diverted on to the Akita Shinkansen branch line and continues on to Akita.
At JR Ueno Station Akita Shinkansen services run from platforms 19 and 20. The Akita Shinkansen is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
There are six stations on the Akita Shinkansen route between Morioka Station and Akita Station.
Morioka > Shizukuishi > Tazawako > Kakunodate > Omagari > Akita
Some Komachi services do not stop at Shizukuishi. Information on the key destinations and on transfer points is given below. For detailed information on destinations between Tokyo and Morioka, please see our article on the Tohoku Shinkansen. Example ticket fares and journey times are given from JR Ueno Station. Tickets for reserved seats usually cost around 500 yen extra but this can go up and down in peak and non-peak travel periods. Low season reserved ticket pricing is given below.
Morioka is the capital city of Iwate Prefecture and has a large number of tourist attractions. There is a tourist information center in Morioka Station which has plenty of free information and maps.
- Ishiwari-zakura (or “rock-splitting cherry tree”) is a 400 year cherry tree growing out of a rock outside Morioka District Court. The tree is a designated National Treasure and a 20 minute walk from Morioka Station.
- Sakurayama Shrine is located in Morioka Castle Ruins Park and is a 20 minute walk east of Morioka Station. A huge rock, called “Eboshi Iwa” because it is shaped like a Heian era Eboshi hat, sits beside the shrine and is considered to be a lucky talisman of the city.
- Morioka Hachimangu is a colorful shrine dating from 1062. The shrine is the location for the annual Chagu Chagu Umakko horse parade which is held on the second Saturday of June. One hundred horses decorated with brightly colored fittings and bells carry costumed riders to the shrine. “Chagu chagu” is the name given to the sound of the ringing bells. Morioka Hachimangu is a 20 minute walk from the Bank of Iwate Red Brick Building.
- Iwate Museum of Art is a bright, modern facility which exhibits the work of local artists. These include Tetsugoro Yorozu, Shunsuke Matsumoto and Yasutake Funakoshi. Temporary exhibitions display the work of both Japanese and international artists. The museum is a 15 minute walk from Morioka Station.
- Iwate Prefectural Museum has exhibits on regional folklore, history, archaeology, geology, and natural history. There are also two historical farmhouses outside the museum which are designated National Important Cultural Properties. The museum is a 20 minute taxi ride from Morioka Station. Alternatively take a 30 minute bus ride from Morioka Station to Matsuzono Bus Terminal and then take another 3 minute bus ride to the museum.
- Morioka Sansa Odori Festival is held every summer from the 1st to the 4th of August. During this festival 10,000 taiko drummers and dancers parade through the city streets in traditional costumes.
Transfers can be made here to JR East’s Tohoku Main Line, Hanawa Line, Tazawako Line, Yamada Line, and the Iwate Ginga Railway Line.
Train fare (reserved): 14,530 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 7 minutes
Attractions around Shizukuishi include an abundance of hot spring spas, ski resorts, and ecotourism activities.
- Oshuku Onsen is a 450 year old hot spring spa resort with natural alkaline waters located in scenic countryside. Close by the resort is the Uguisu-yunosato Park which has walking trails and a free foot bath, and the Outaki waterfall. Recommended hotels here are Hotel Morinokaze Oshuku, and Choeikan. The resort is a 13 minute taxi ride from Shizukuishi Station.
- Amihari Onsen is a spa and ski resort on the southern slopes of Mount Iwate. The spa has indoor and outdoor baths with natural milky white mineral waters. Close by the spa are hiking trails and a chairlift which carries visitors up to an observation deck from which they can enjoy panoramic views over the mountainous countryside. This resort is a 33 minute taxi ride from Shizukuishi Station.
- Shizukuishi Ski Resort has 13 ski trails, a restaurant, a kids activity section, and the hot springs of Takakura Onsen to relax in after skiing. The resort is a 20 minute taxi ride from Shizukuishi Station.
- Koiwai Farm is a working private farm with many historic farm buildings that offers a range of ecotourism activities. These include farm tours, nature treks, tractor rides, horse rides, butter making, sheep dog shows, and barbecues. Iwate Snow Festival is held here in February and features giant snow sculptures, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and fireworks displays. The century old solitary cherry tree at Koiwai Farm is a popular site for photographers in the spring. Koiwai Farm is a 16 minute taxi ride from Shizukuishi Station.
Shizukuishi Station is served by JR East’s Tazawako Line.
Train fare (reserved): 15,750 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 22 minutes
This station is named after Lake Tazawako, a beautiful blue crater lake which is the deepest lake in Japan. There is a regular bus service from the station to the lake where people enjoy hiking and boating. Sightseeing boat tours will take you from the east side of the lake to the west where you can see the golden statue of Tatsuko. Tatsuko is a legendary girl who prayed for eternal beauty and was transformed into a beautiful dragon that now lives at the bottom of the lake. The bus from the station to the lake takes around 12 minutes.
From Lake Tazawako you can then take a 36 minute bus ride to the Nyuto Onsen hot spring resort. This resort consists of seven hot spring inns which are located at the foot of Mount Nyuto and surrounded by beech woods. Each inn has outdoor bathing facilities with breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside. Tsurunoyu is the oldest inn at the resort and still has some traditional thatched roofing.
Tazawako Station is served by JR East’s Tazawako Line.
Train fare (reserved): 15,960 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 42 minutes
Kakunodate is an old castle town founded in 1620. Today the castle has gone, but the town still has many beautifully preserved historical buildings and is a popular cherry blossom viewing location in the spring.
Kakunodate is best known for its samurai houses, six of which are open to public viewing. Of these Aoyagi House and Ishiguro House are the most popular. Aoyagi house belonged to a rich samurai family and now is an extensive complex housing a museum, restaurant and gift shop. At Ishiguro House you can take a tour of the house interior, the garden, and the storehouses. Family heirlooms on display inside the house include a full suit of samurai armor. The Denshokan Museum is also in the samurai district and here you can view traditional local crafts such as products carved from cherry bark.
The merchant district is a separate area of the town which also has some preserved historical buildings. The Nishinomiya Residence is a particularly impressive merchant’s house that now houses a museum and restaurant. In addition to the cherry trees that line the broad streets of Kakunodate’s samurai district there are also several hundred weeping cherry trees along the banks of the Hinokinai River that are a nationally designated beauty spot.
Kakunodate Station is served by JR East’s Tazawako Line and by the Akita Nairiku Line.
Train fare (reserved): 16,600 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 56 minutes
Omagari is best known as the location for Japan’s National Fireworks Competition in the fourth week of August. During this competition, fireworks technicians from all over Japan create their best displays along the banks of the Omono River. It is definitely the biggest and most impressive fireworks show in Japan. Unfortunately, accommodation is limited in Omagari and the event is very popular, so visitors will need to book early to be sure of a place to stay during this event. If you cannot book accommodation, an alternative is to stay in a different city along the Akita Shinkansen train route and just come in to Omagari for the display.
Omagari Station is served by JR East’s Ou Main Line and Tazawako Line.
Train fare (reserved): 16,920 yen
Train time: 3 hours and 6 minutes
Akita is the capital city of Akita Prefecture. The most famous event here is the Kanto Matsuri festival which is held every year from August 3rd to 6th. During this festival two hundred poles carrying lanterns are paraded through the streets to the accompaniment of whistling flutes and pounding drums. Smaller poles carry 24 candle-lit lanterns and weigh between 5 and 15 kilograms. Bigger poles carry 46 lanterns and weigh between 30 and 50 kilograms. The biggest spectacle of the event is the performance of the pole bearers who balance these poles on their palms, foreheads, shoulders, and hips. This is one of the biggest festivals in the Tohoku region and has been designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.
If you visit Akita at a different time of year you can still experience a little of the festival at the Neburigashikan Museum. Here they have some of the poles and lanterns on display and a staff member demonstrates some of the pole balancing tricks. This museum is an 18 minute walk from Akita Station. Other museums of interest in Akita are listed below.
- Kubota Castle is located in Senshu Park. This is only a partial reconstruction of the original castle which was first built in 1604. Inside the castle is a small museum of local history. The castle is a 15 minute walk from Akita Station.
- Akarengakan is a red brick building dating from 1912 which houses a museum of traditional arts and crafts. Akarengakan is a 17 minute walk from Akita Station.
- Akita Museum of Art was designed by the architect, Tadao Ando and exhibits the works of Tsuguharu Foujita. The museum is a 12 minute walk from Akita Station.
- Akita Senshu Musem of Art displays Dutch style “ranga” paintings and has an important collection of works by the expressionist painter Kenzo Okada. The museum is a 6 minute walk from Akita Station.
- Akita Prefectural Museum displays exhibits related to Akita’s history, natural history, culture, and folklore. To get there take the Ou Main Line from Akita Station to Oiwake Station and then walk for 20 minutes.
Akita Station is served by JR East’s Ou Main Line, Uetsu Main Line and Oga Line.
Train fare (reserved): 17,590 yen
Train time: 3 hours and 40 minutes
Tickets & Discounts
The Japan Rail Pass can be used for either ordinary seating or Green Car seating. However, at the time you buy the pass, you must choose an Ordinary Pass or a Green Pass. As an alternative to the Japan Rail Pass, JR East also offer a discount pass for the Tohoku area of northern Honshu. This special 5 day pass for overseas visitors offers unlimited use of JR East’s local trains, shinkansen, and limited express services within the designated area and also some non-JR trains in the Izu and Nikko areas. This pass is great if you want to explore Akita Prefecture and other parts of northern Honshu. For prices and more details check the official JR East Pass webpage. To save you time, tickets for the Akita Shinkansen can also be reserved online.
Map & Timetables
To see how the Akita Shinkansen connects with other shinkansen routes, view our complete map of Japan’s shinkansen high-speed train network.
JR East has complete timetables for Akita Shinkansen trains heading from Tokyo and to Tokyo. To look up train times, fares, and connections quickly on this route use online English route finders like Hyperdia or the Japan Transit Planner.
Article by Michael Lambe. Photos by Michael Lambe, Seventh Heaven/PIXTA(1), lastpresent/PIXTA(2), shimada/PIXTA(6), type/PIXTA(7). All rights reserved.