Hachinohe is known for its spectacular scenery, with towering sea cliffs, sandy bays, wildflower meadows and dazzling sunsets. Hachinohe is located on the most north-eastern part of the main Japanese island of Honshu, nestled in between Misawa and Kuji in Aomori Prefecture.
Hachinohe’s Pacific coastline offers up a series of fantastic hikes. From traversing the beloved Tanesashi Coast to walking to the ancient Pyramid of Shingo, there’s no better way to get the feel of a destination than by exploring on your own two feet. We have chosen some of the most exhilarating and beautiful routes to bring you five jaw-dropping hikes in Hachinohe.
Hachinohe’s most famous hiking routes trace its spellbinding coastline, combining to form part of the mighty Michinoku Coastal Trail. This trail extends roughly 1000km connecting Hachinohe in Aomori with Soma in Fukushima Prefecture. Indeed, Hachinohe’s fabulous coastline is well represented on our list, but there’s plenty more besides. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or after a relaxed stroll, there’s something for everyone in Hachinohe. Lace up your walking boots and get started!
- Trail length: 13km/full day
- Difficulty: Moderate
1. Full Tanesashi Coast Day Hike
The Tanesashi Coast is a staggeringly beautiful section of the Japanese coastline, stretching for 12–13km along Hachinohe’s Pacific shores. Part of the new, long-distance Michinoku Coastal Trail, the Tanesashi Coast offers varied walking, with craggy cliffs, sweeping beaches, pine forests and wildflower meadows – at their best in the summer, when the flowers are in bloom.
This day-long route is easily accessible from Hachinohe Station, where trains depart for Same Station (the startpoint) and Okuki Station (the endpoint). Natural highlights along the way include Kabushima, near the day’s start, a nesting site of a sizeable black-tailed gull population; Yodo Pine Grove, home to a collection of 100-year-old trees; and Nakasuka, full of coastal plants and Alpine flowers. The area’s bountiful flora gave Tanesashi its nickname, the Coast of Flowers. Towards the end of the route, the Tanesashi Natural Lawn is the perfect place to take a break. Be sure to pause at the Hamagoya, too, an old straw-thatched fishing hut where you can learn how fishermen lived in days gone by.
The Tanesashi Coast is – walking poles down – one of the best hikes in Hachinohe. Don’t forget to stop every now and then to gaze out over long coastal views; viewpoints like the Ashigezaki and Takaiwa scenic overlooks give tremendous panoramas. The route can easily be extended – just continue along the Michinoku Coastal Trail.
- Trail length: 30min
- Difficulty: Moderate
2. The Pyramid of Shingo
Shingo is an incredibly spiritual place. It is home to the Pyramid of Shingo, the focus of this hike, and is also claimed as the site of Christ’s grave. In fact, many travellers flock to Shingo in June for the colourful Christ Festival. The pyramid itself is made of stones with names like azimuth, the sun stone and the constellation stone: it is thought to have been constructed as a place of sun worship tens of thousands of years ago. Some stones align with cardinal points, others are adorned with ancient carvings.
The stone pyramid is nestled in the forest, and the walk to the Shingo is a lovely one. You can extend your time here by exploring the surrounding area, as well as the small village of Shingo itself. In mid April and early May, the Mizubasho flowers come alive. Local buses will bring you to Shingo, but to make the most of hikes in the area, spend the night at Maginotai Green Park. Camping facilities and a series of bungalows make the perfect place to bed down.
- Trail length: 16km/full day
- Difficulty: Moderate
3. Lake Aoba Loop
Created by the Yomasari Dam, Lake Aoba takes its name from a Japanese flute. The Aoba flute belonged to Taira no Shigemori, a famous samurai. The lake was named after the legend as he brought the flute with him to the lake. Flutes aside, Aoba is fantastically picturesque, especially in autumn when the trees that fringe the lake explode into a blazing display of reds and oranges.
The 15km-long Lake Aoba Loop can be used as a walking or running trail. And if you’d rather only hike part of it, that’s fine too. Whatever you choose, don’t miss the former Shimamori power plant, just downstream from Yomasari Dam. When the power plant went out of service, it was transformed into a magnificent nature park. Come in May and you’ll be rewarded with hundreds of wildflowers in bloom, including the delicate dogtooth violet. It’s all the flower power you need.
- Trail length: Dependant on section
- Difficulty: Easy
4. The Oshu Road
If you still can’t choose from the superlative hikes in Hachinohe, walk the Oshu Road. One of the main routes of the Edo period, the Oshu Road (or Oshu Kaido) once connected Aomori with the capital. Today, parts of the old road can be hiked around Sannohe, Asamizu and Gonohe; the section around Gonohe is particularly charming. Wherever you walk, the scenery is lovely and information boards along the route give insightful context. There’s plenty of historical interest along the way, too, including old Edo era mile markers. On a clear day views extend to Mount Nakui and Mount Hakkoda in the distance, as well as over the Pacific coastline. Breathe it in.
- Trail length: 2km/30mins–1hr
- Difficulty: Moderate/difficult
5. Osuka Coast Walk
Osuka Beach is a 2km section of the Tanesashi Coast, but makes a fantastic walk in isolation. Osuka is a gorgeous white-sand beach – its beauty has led to its designation as a Scenic Place of National Importance, as well as one of the Top 100 Scenic Spots of Japan. It is famed for its “singing sand”, which makes a squeaky sound when you walk on it – a phenomenon that will delight children and adults alike. Don’t be tempted to take a dip here, however, as strong rip tides make swimming dangerous.
Though this is a short walk, the sandy terrain makes the going tough. To reach Osuka Beach, take the train from Hachinohe to Same Station, then hop on a local bus called the “Tanesashi Sightseeing Bus Umineko” (Umineko means Black-tailed gull) and alight at Osuka Kaigan.
Active travellers will delight in the hiking trails that lace the coastline and countryside of Hachinohe, taking in everything from old Edo roads to bracing coast paths and dense pine forests. Well, what are you waiting for? Pack your backpack and be on your merry way.
There’s a number of different ways to get to Hachinohe. The easiest route is by shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo, which takes roughly two hours and forty-five minutes. In terms of other train routes, there’s the JR Hachinohe Line and Aoimori Railway. You can also fly into Hachinohe from Tokyo, Osaka or Sapporo. Alternatively, you can take the Silver Line ferry from Tomakomai, Hokkaido, which is ideal if you have a car with you.
Top image: Autumn colours on Hakkoda mountain and the cable car riding to the summit, Aomori, Japan © Wipark Kulnirandorn/Shutterstock
This article was created in partnership with Visit Hachinohe.