The Akita Shinkansen is a branch line of the Tōhoku Shinkansen. It runs from Tokyo Station to Akita Station via Morioka. It’s the only Shinkansen route that runs through Akita Prefecture. These trains are unique, because they were designed to use both Shinkansen and regular train tracks.

Akita Prefecture is famous for rice and, therefore, sake. It is also fairly rugged and known for its mountain trekking and hot springs. Rather notably, the prefecture is also the origin of the Akita dog breed — and the birthplace of Shibuya Scramble Crossing’s most famous resident, Hachiko.

Highlights along the Akita Shinkansen route

  • 1. Marvel at Lake Tazawa, the deepest caldera lake in Japan.
  • 2. Wander through the samurai town of Kakunodate.
  • 3. Soak in a relaxing hot spring in Nyūtō Onsen town.
  • 4. Brush up on your Japanese folklore at the Namahage Museum.
  • 5. Celebrate at the Akita Kanto Festival, one of the three biggest festivals in the Tōhoku region.
Gozanoishi Shrine at Lake Tazawa. | Photo by PixHound / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images.

Services on the Akita Shinkansen

Since the Akita Shinkansen is a branch line, it only has one service — the Komachi. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

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ServiceStart stationEnd stationStopsFrequency of departures
KomachiTokyoAkitaMost stations between Tokyo and Akita1 per hour

The Komachi service departs from Tokyo along the main Tōhoku Shinkansen line. Between Tokyo and Morioka Stations, it’s actually joined to Hayabusa service trains. At Morioka, the trains decouple, and the Komachi service continues to Akita Station.

The service stops at most stations between Morioka Station and Akita Station, although it sometimes skips Shizukuishi Station. Komachi services have one Green car and are reserved seating only.

Akita Shinkansen tickets and seat reservations

JR East operates the Akita Shinkansen. You can either buy a single-journey ticket, or a rail pass.

Single-journey tickets can be bought from JR ticket offices or Shinkansen ticket machines at stations. Alternatively, you can buy them online from Eki-net. There are both Japanese and English versions of the Eki-net website, but they are slightly different. You can buy certain discounted tickets on the Japanese version of the site, while the English website has JR Passes.

Get more information on buying Shinkansen tickets and making seat reservations in our ultimate Shinkansen guide.

Luggage restrictions on the Akita Shinkansen

Luckily, the Shinkansen luggage rules implemented in 2020 did not impact the Akita Shinkansen. The trains have luggage storage spaces in each carriage. However, these fill up quickly during peak travel periods — you might consider forwarding your bags to your accommodation.

Rail passes and other discounts on the Akita Shinkansen

A hand holds up the JR East Tōhoku Area Pass and seat reservation ticket in front of the departures board at Tokyo Station
JR East Tōhoku Area Pass. | Photo by Maria Danuco

The entire Akita Shinkansen route is covered by the countrywide JR Pass. In addition, the following JR East rail passes also cover travel on the Akita Shinkansen:

  • Tōhoku Area Pass: Covers travel on the entire Akita Shinkansen route from Tokyo to Akita Station. It can also be used for the Tōhoku and Yamagata Shinkansen lines. Finally, it can also be used for travel in the Kantō region.
  • East–South Hokkaidō Pass: Covers travel on the Akita Shinkansen from Tokyo to Akita Station. It also covers the Tōhoku Shinkansen to Shin-Aomori Station, and onwards to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station on the Hokkaidō Shinkansen. Finally, it can also be used on the Yamagata branch lines, and for other rail travel around Kantō.

Good to know: The Tōhoku Area Pass is one of the regional rail passes available to foreign residents of Japan.

Other discounts and promotions

Besides JR Passes, there are several ways to get discounted Akita Shinkansen tickets. Here are a few options:

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  • Eki-net: If you register for JR’s online ticket service, Eki-net, in Japanese, you may be able to snag Tokudane tickets. These tickets have discounts ranging from 5% to 50% off, but dates and numbers are limited. Even if you can’t get Tokudane tickets, booking an e-ticket or a round trip will still get you a small discount.
  • Otona no kyūjitsu club: If you’re over 50, you can join the Otona no kyūjitsu club. Membership gives you 5% to 30% off tickets for journeys over 201 km. More information can be found here (Japanese only).
  • Student discounts: Students (from junior high school to university level) can get 20% off Shinkansen tickets for journeys over 101 km. You need to get a ‘学生・生徒旅客運賃割引証’ (gakusei・seito ryokaku unchin waribikishō, student passenger fare discount certificate) from your school. Once you have this, you can take it to a JR ticket counter to buy your ticket.

Check out our guide to getting discounted Shinkansen tickets for more ideas.

Shinkansen and hotel packages

You can buy Shinkansen ticket and hotel packages on several different websites. However, the discounts vary, and the websites are mainly in Japanese, so this isn’t necessarily the easiest option. Here are a some places to look, anyway:

Stations of interest on the Akita Shinkansen

Sendai Station

Sendai Station is in Sendai City, the largest city in the entire Tōhoku region and the capital of Miyagi Prefecture. It is home to the Sendai Daikannon, a statue of the Buddhist deity of compassion, Kannon. At 100 meters tall, the statue is the sixth tallest in the world and the tallest statue of a goddess in Japan. Sendai also has a number of other shrines, temples, and museums.

Sendai Station is the main station in Sendai City. It serves the local JR lines, an airport transit line, two subway lines, and local buses.

View from Yamadera. | Photo by Maria Danuco

Where can I go near Sendai Station?

The ruins of Aoba Castle, along with a museum documenting its history, are just a short bus or subway ride from Sendai Station. Similarly, other popular sites like Rinnō Temple, Sendai Tōshōgū Shrine, and the Miyagi Museum of Art are all close to local train stations. The Daikannon, however, is only accessible by bus. Yamadera Temple and its thousand steps are accessible by train.

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Morioka Station

Morioka Station is in Morioka City, the capital of Iwate Prefecture. Many rivers run through the city, which is surrounded by mountains, making it very picturesque. In particular, the 400-year-old rock-splitting cherry blossom tree — ishiwari zakura — is a popular attraction.

Morioka Station is the main train station in the city and services both local and private train lines. There are bus stops for both local and highway buses. This is where the Akita Shinkansen branch line splits from the main Tōhoku Shinkansen line.

Mt. Iwate, Morioka
View of Mount Iwate from Morioka. | Photo by iStock.com/PixHound

Where can I go near Morioka Station?

The rock-splitting cherry blossom is only a 20-minute walk or 10-minute bus ride from Morioka Station. The Morioka Castle Ruins and Iwate Museum of Art aren’t too far, either.

Tazawako Station

Tazawako Station is in the city of Semboku in Akita Prefecture. While the city itself is quite small, it’s a gateway to many other attractions. Tazawako Station services both the Akita Shinkansen and the local JR East Tazawako Line.

The station building was designed by award-winning architect Shigeru Ban — who also designed some of the toilets in the Tokyo Toilet Project.

Where can I go near Tazawako Station?

The station’s namesake, Lake Tazawa, is about 12 minutes away by bus. Nyūtō Onsen Town is a bit further, at 50 minutes by bus.

Kakunodate Station

Kakunodate Station is also in the city of Semboku. Like Tazawako Station, it services both the Akita Shinkansen and the Tazawako Line. The station is in a part of Semboku known for its well-preserved samurai manors, and the station building was designed to reflect this history.

Kakunodate. | Photo by ntrirata / iStock Editorial via Getty Images. / Getty Images Plus

Where can I go near Kakunodate Station?

The main attractions nearby are the samurai manors, some of which are over 400 years old. You can either walk or take a bus to this part of town. Spring is an especially beautiful time to visit, as the weeping cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Akita Station

The final stop on the Akita Shinkansen makes a lot of sense — Akita Station in Akita City (the capital of Akita Prefecture). Akita is mostly a manufacturing and agricultural city, but it is known for its yearly Kantō Festival.

Akita Station is the main train station and is fairly central. It services the Akita Shinkansen and five local JR East lines. There are also a number of highway buses that stop here.

Where can I go near Akita Station?

Senshū Park and the Akita Museum of Art are a five-minute walk from Akita Station. The Akita Castle ruins are about 20 minutes away by bus. The Namahage Museum in nearby Oga City is an hour away by shuttle bus.

Akita Shinkansen FAQs

Can you use the JR Pass on the Akita Shinkansen?

Yes, you can use your JR Pass on the Akita Shinkansen. Just don’t forget that all seats are reserved seating — so you’ll need to reserve your seats before boarding.

How long is the trip from Tokyo to Akita?

Around four hours, with trains departing from Tokyo every hour.

How much is a one-way ticket from Tokyo Station to Akita Station?

Around ¥18,000, depending on the time of year.

When did the Akita Shinkansen start running?

It was launched in 1997. In 2014, all trains on the Akita Shinkansen were replaced with the new E6 series trains, which reach speeds of around 320 km per hour on the section between Utsunomiya and Morioka stations.

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While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change.

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