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Discounts for Travelling around Tohoku

Tohoku, a region covering the northeastern portion of Honshu, the largest island of Japan, is an amazing place to visit. Beautiful nature and rural landscapes, numerous onsen, snow and skiing in the colder months (or until June in the case of Gassan!), folktales and local festivals and legends... Tohoku is often called ‘hidden Japan’ and has many gems that are still undiscovered by foreign tourists. Travelling around Tohoku is these days easier than it ever has been and there are many discounts available for those willing to visit!

Regional Passes

JR East Pass  (good for those using the shinkansen)
- Price: 19,000 yen (children 9,500)
The JR East Pass (Tohoku area) is a discount that allows unlimited rides on all JR East train lines within the designated area during five days (they don't have to be consecutive as long as they're within 14 days since it was first used). This usually pays off if using the shinkansen or doing long distances and is the most commonly used pass for travelling around the region.
Geibikei Gorge

(Photo from japan-iwate)

Tohoku Expressway Pass (good for those driving)
Unlimited use of Tohoku expressways through the tolls at a flat rate. The prices depend on the amount of days (consecutive) you'd want to use the pass, starting at 2 days (4000 yen) to 14 days (12,000 yen). You can check the same link for details on where to rent a car.
Oneworld YOKOSO / Visit TOHOKU Fare (good for those flying between destinations)
Flights from Tokyo or Osaka (some cases Fukuoka/Sapporo too) to different parts of Tohoku and to Sapporo. Domestic flights can add up quite a bit, especially to smaller airports, so if you're planning to fly you could consider this (of course comparing first with the price of buying tickets individually).

Treasureland Tohoku Bus Ticket  (good for long distance bus travel)
Unlimited travel on 60 selected bus routes across Tohoku during either 4 or 7 consecutive days. The 4-day pass is 10,000 yen and the 7-day pass 13,000 yen. However, this doesn't include getting from Tokyo (or elsewhere) to Tohoku, so you could combine this with a bus from Willer Express, Japan Bus Lines or Meitetsu that could get you there. Willer Express also has a Bus Pass that covers a lot of long distance trips on the main island.

W-Kippu discount  (for some selected local train journeys)
A ticket that gives a small discount for roundtrips when using slow trains on a few selected routes (Fukushima/Yamagata - Sendai; Koriyama - Aizu-Wakamatsu, etc.). Prices depend on the destination. Since the JR East Pass only goes for five days, you could combine the two in one same trip (along with day passes), using the JR East Pass for the more expensive journeys and the W-Kippu for these maybe cheaper trips.
(Photo from Takinami)

City Day Passes

Day passes are usually a small discount card that lets you travel around a city during a day or two, usually by bus, for a cheaper price than paying for a few rides separately. Here are some for cities in the Tohoku Region:

Loople Day Pass
Unlimited rides on Sendai's Loople Bus, which goes to most of the city's attractions, during one calendar day. 620 yen adults, 310 yen kids. Also includes discounts to some of the attractions.
Run Run Loop Bus
Unlimited rides on Hiraizumi's Run Run Bus, which goes to most of the city's attractions, during one calendar day. 400 yen. It pays off with 3 or more rides.
Shuttle Route Bus Nebutan-go
Unlimited rides on Aomori's Nebutan-go Bus, which goes to most of the city's attractions, during one calendar day. 500 yen adults, 250 yen kids, it pays off with 3 or more rides.
Aomori's Nebutan-go! (Image from link above)

Hirosaki Apple Pie Coupon
This one is a bit strange, but I think it's fun. The Apple Pie Coupon includes the entrance to Hirosaki Castle, Tsugaru-han Nebuta Village, the Botanical Garden and Fujita Memorial Garden and a 300 yen equivalent souvenir (choose either postcards or guidebook).
They also give you a set of seven coupons (each one equivalent to 100 yen). They can be used to exchange for apple pies in participating cafes/restaurants since apples are Aomori Prefecture's speciality or to ride the Dotemachi Loop Bus (1 coupon for one ride or five coupons for a day pass).
It costs 1,500 yen and can be used over a period of 30 days.
Aizu Loop Bus Pass
One ride on Aizu-Wakamatsu's Loop Bus costs 210 yen, while a day pass for unlimited rides on one calendar day costs 500 yen. It goes to most of the city's attractions.
Unlimited rides on JR trains around Aizu and on the Aizu Railway as well as on the Aizu Bus, Haikarasan and Bandai Toto Bus during two calendar days. 2,600 yen. It can be bought at stations around Aizu.
Hachimantai Area Passes
A collection of passes to travel around the Hachimantai area of northern Iwate Prefecture by bus.
Hachimantai Lava Flow
(Image from tokaimon)
These are all the Tohoku passes I know of! I plan to use the W-Kippu on my upcoming trip and perhaps the Aizu Gurruto Pass too. I'll let you know how it goes. Any discounts I've forgotten?

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10 comments

It is very nice.

Seems wonderful ! Definitely going there on my next trip to Japan :)

I'll be going to many places in Tohoku this June, I hope my future reports will help you plan your trip :)

Thank you for this article! I haven't been to Tohoku too extensively yet beyond a day trip to Sendai from Tokyo but would love to explore it more. This is super helpful ^^

Thanks for reading! Yamagata and Aomori are two of my favourite prefectures so I like seeing people visit Tohoku! :)

So if someone were to fly to japan, would they need to buy multiple JR passes depending on what region they want to visit?

The JR Pass covers the entire country, usually this is the one people buy if they'll be visiting different regions such as going to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima,etc. The passes mentioned here should be better if you only plan to visit the Tohoku region, perhaps alonside Tokyo.

So if someone were to fly to japan, would they need to buy multiple JR passes depending on what region they want to visit?

Getting to explore new places and saving some money at the same time is great - this is a super helpful resource!

Whoa! I've never heard of most of these passes. This is an incredible resource! Thanks for putting it together! I love Tohoku and would love to spend some more time exploring it.