Home >> Japan Travel >> 8 Days Japan Trip using JR East Pass in June 2009 (Tokyo, Aizu Wakamatsu, Koriyama, Sendai, Matsushima, Yamadera, Morioka, Matsumoto)

Day 1 (9 June) Tokyo

We arrived at Narita airport in the late afternoon and stayed the night at Tokyo.  We did not start utilizing our JR East Pass yet, instead we used the cheap Keisei local line to get to Ueno.

We spent the evening shopping at Ginza, shopping for Burberry Blue Label and Agnes B.

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We passed by a shop called Nenrinya (ねんりん家) selling baumkuchen.  There was with a long queue outside and I decided to join to queue.  Well.. Not fantastic in my opinion.  I’ll pass the next time.

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We stayed at Yaesu Pearl Hotel, one of the cheapest hotel we could find near Tokyo station. The room and bed was tiny, but what the heck, we just wanted a cheap place from which we could easily walk to Tokyo station the next morning.

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Day 2 (10 June) Tokyo – Koriyama – Aizu Wakamatsu – Koriyama – Sendai

We started using our JR East Pass, taking Shinkansen Yamabiko from Tokyo to Koriyama and transferring to the JR Banetsu-sai Line to Aizu Wakamatsu.

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To get around Aizu Wakamatsu, we took the Machinaka Town Bus.

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We visitied  Tsurugajo Castle, Aizu Samurai Residence, Suehiro Sake Brewery and Iimoriyama.

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The climb up the stairs at Iiromiyama reminded me of scenes from Kung Fu Panda.

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The most interesting we ate at Aizu Wakamatsu was a dango snack.. very yummy!

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In the evening, we took the JR Banetsu-sai Line back to Koriyama and transferred to Shinkansen Yamabiko for Sendai.

We spent the evening shopping around Sendai station area and looking for a gyutan (beef tongue: a famous dish of Sendai) restaurant.

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We found a restaurant where we ordered a gyutan set and a pork hot pot.  I enjoyed the pork hot pot more than the gyutan.  Gyutan was kind of chewy, I’m not sure I could appreciate it.

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We stayed at Comfort Hotel Sendai Nishi Guchi which was walkable from Sendai station.  There was a giant sign from the overhead bridge at the West Exit of Sendai station pointing us in the correct direction.

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Day 3 (11 June) Sendai – Matsushima – Sendai

We took the JR Senseki Line from Sendai station to Matsushima Kaigan station to visit Matsushima, one of the Japan 3 sights (日本三景).  It was a gloomy drizzling day, so we didn’t walk for very long and skipped the sightseeing cruise.

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After we completed our tour of Matsushima, we took the JR Senseki Line back to Sendai.  We went shopping at a shopping street called Clis Road, and tried gyutan again at a fast food sort of outlet that specialized in gyutan.  It was nicer than the one we had at the restaurant the previous day.

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It was still early since we spent less time than expected at Matsushima, so we took the Sendai Loople Bus to the Aoba castle ruins.

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Day 4 (12 June) Sendai – Yamadera – Morioka

We took the JR Senzan Line from Sendai to Yamadera and walked from there to the Yamadera Temple.

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From the station, we could see Yamadera Temple perched on the mountain in the faaaaarrrrr distance.

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And so, we began the loooonnnggg walk / climb to the temple.  It was tiring, but well worth it.  It was very scenic and the top.

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After visiting the temple, we headed for Morioka.  To get there, we took the JR Senzan Line back to Sendai and transferred to Shinkansen Hayate for Morioka.

At Morioka, we ate the famous Morioka Reimen at a restaurant that was pretty crowded.  It turned out to be one of the most yucky things I ever ate.  It was cold, hard and there was a slice of watermelon inside?? I simply couldn’t stomach it.  But clearly hubby and I were the only people who had a problem with it, because business was brisk and everyone else were slurping up their noodles happily.

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We spent the night at Morioka City Hotel which was very close to Morioka station.

Day 5 (13 June) Morioka – Omiya – Nagano

In the morning, we rented a car to drive around the region.

Our first stop was Koiwai Farm, where we shepherded some sheep.

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Next stop was Morioka Jouato Kouen (盛岡市城跡公園).

 

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Next stop was Jodogahama Beach.

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We went for the sightseeing cruise there.

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From there, we wanted to drive to Kitayamazaki, but the road was closed due to soil erosion. How unlucky!

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We drove to our next destination: Ryunsendo Caves.  It was super cold inside the caves and we were clearly under-dressed.  Outside the caves, you can help yourself to some spring water.

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After returning the rental car, we took Shinkansen Komachi to Omiya and transferred to Shinkansen Asama to Nagano.

We spent the night at Smile Hotel Nagano.

Day 6 (14 June) Nagano – Matsumoto – Nagano – Tokyo

We took the JR Shinonoi Line to Matsumoto.  From there, we rented a car to get around.

Our first stop was Matsumoto Castle. I LOVE Matsumoto Castle.. The castle ground is so beautiful and the whole castle was very well-preserved.  It is considered a National Treasure because it is one of the last remaining original castle in Japan (most other castles in Japan are reconstructed).

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At Matsumoto Castle, don’t forget to look for the Good Will Guides.  They are volunteer guides who will bring your through the castle and explain the details to you in English, free of charge!

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Next, we drove to Daio Wasabi Farm.

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We had a good time checking out all the various wasabi-flavoured food.

Wasabi soft cream:

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Wasabi Croquette:

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Wasabi curry:

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Wasabi Juice and Wasabi beer:

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We returned the car and took the Limited Express Shinano to Nagano and transferred to Shinkansen Asama to Tokyo. That ended our 5 days travel using the JR East Pass.

Day 7 (15 June) Tokyo

We spent the day doing our usual shopping and eating around Tokyo.

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Day 8 (15 June) Tokyo

We did some more last-minute shopping before heading back to Narita for our flight home.


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Supposed to be a stay-home mom, but hates staying home. Definition of parenting is bringing the boys out for 'experiential learning' in Singapore, Japan and wherever else in the world her husband can afford to pay for.

5Comments

  1. […] my trip to Japan in June 2009, this was how I utilized 5 days of my JR East […]

  2. Shirlene says:

    Hi BumbleBeeMum,

    Happen to chance upon your blog while trying to dig for more info for a self drive trip in Japan.

    My family of 4 (with 2 teens) will be visiting Japan this December. We had been to Japan, but only moving around cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto in public transport when kids were younger.

    With more time to spend this year, we were thinking of doing a self drive tour around central Japan, starting and ending in Tokyo.

    Places to visit include Matsumoto, Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa, etc.

    Do you think it is safe for us to drive to those places in early December?

    Hoping to hear your comments.

    • bumblebeemum says:

      The route you mentioned sounds pretty safe and it is very well-travelled. I doubt you would encounter heavy snow if you don’t venture further North of Matsumoto towards the ski areas. Maybe a little snow on the road if you go to places like Shin Hotaka. If you encounter snow, just drive real snow. And request for snow tyres just in case. Keep to the expressways as the smaller roads may have road closures in winter. You may want to consider the Central Japan Expressway Pass.

  3. Bill says:

    When is a good time to go Hokkaido , as last dec it was Vy cold & flights delayed due to heavy snow ?

    Any decent hotels to recommend as we are on a tight budget ?

    Thanks

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Yeah, it’ll be very cold with chances of snow storms in December. If you’re not restricted by school holidays, February is the best time to visit for winter in Hokkaido because that’s when the snow festivals are going on.

      For budget hotels, try the chains like Super Hotel, Toyoko Inn, Dormy Inn etc.

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