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WPCS 2.1.3
1.866.316.7268 [email protected]
WPCS 2.1.3

Northern Tohoku and Western Hokkaido Mini Tour

On the Northern Tohoku and Western Hokkaido mini tour, leave behind the busy, modern city of Tokyo as you slowly travel further and further north exploring all that Northern Tohoku and Western Hokkaido have to offer. Tohoku is the northern part of Honshu, the main island of of the Japanese archipelago. Tohoku is known as a remote and scenic region, and for its numerous traditional onsens, and welcoming and friendly people. You will end up on Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. Among the Japanese, Hokkaido has become synonymous with sensational food, stunning scenery and some of the best onsens in Japan.

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Tour Factors

Tour Immersion in Culture
Cultural Immersion
Tour Pace
Tour Physical Activity
Physical Activity

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Tour Details

Northern Tokoku and Western Hokkaido are rich in history and traditional Japanese culture. In Aizu-Wakamatsu you will have the opportunity to explore an old Samurai city full of history and tradition. Relax in the hot springs at traditional Nyuto Onsen and travel to the former castle town of Kakunodate. Journey along the coast on the Resort Shirakami before arriving at Hakadote where you will be amazed by its enchanting night view, all before arriving at Noboribetsu Onsen with its world famous hot springs. The tour will end in Sapporo, the largest city on Hokkaido and the host of the 1972 Winter Olympics, or at Tokyo (your choice).

  • Aizu-Wakamatsu's Samurai Traditions
  • Remote Nyuto Onsen
  • Samurai Homes of Kakunodate
  • Train from Akita to Aomori with Tsugaru Shamisen performance
  • Three Kaiseki-style dinners
  • Three separate rides on a Shinkansen (bullet train)
  • Travel Guard Gold Policy (for American tour members only)
  • Baggage transfer from city to city
  • Reserved seat train tickets between cities
  • Electronic version of Tour Handbook and Japanese History
  • International airfare is NOT included.
  • A printed itinerary is not included
  • Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and desserts are NOT included
Tour Destinations
  • Tokyo
  • Aizu Wakamatsu
  • Nyuto Onsen
  • Kakunodate
  • Akita
  • Aomori
  • Hakodate
  • Noboribetsu Onsen
  • Sapporo or Tokyo
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Day 1Arrive in Tokyo

You will be staying overnight in the city of Tokyo. You will travel on your own to Tokyo and check into the hotel. We will leave a message for you at the hotel informing you of the meeting time for the next day. No meals included.

TBD; Walking: TBD

Day 2Travel to Aizu-Wakamatsu; Aizu-Wakamatsu - Samurai Mansion; Overnight Higashiyama Onsen

Before leaving Tokyo, you will need to prepare your luggage for transfer to Aizu-Wakamatsu. We will be traveling to Aizu-Wakamatsu with an overnight bag only. Please prepare your overnight bag for 2 days and 1 night. After breakfast you will start the day with a Welcome/Orientation meeting, and then travel to Aizu-Wakamatsu. Aizu Wakamatsu is a former castle town with a long Samurai tradition. After arriving at Aizu Wakamatsu and dropping off our luggage, we will visit the Aizu Bukeyashiki (Samurai Mansion). This was the home of an important Samurai, and therefore is very large with dozens of different rooms and sections including gardens, guest rooms, a tea house, an archery range, and a rice mill. Breakfast at the hotel and dinner at the ryokan included.

Travel: 3 Hours; Walking: Medium

Day 3Aizu-Wakamatsu - Sazaedo Pagoda, Nisshin Samurai School, Tsuruga Castle

Today we will further explore the Samurai city of Aizu Wakamatsu. We will start at the Sazaedo Tower. Completed in 1796, the wooden Sazaedo temple isn’t huge but what makes it unique is its double helix staircase on which the people going up and the people going down never pass each other. Next, we will tour the Samurai School where the children of the Samurai attended. In the afternoon we will visit Tsuruga Castle, originally built in 1384. Tsuruga Castle was one of the last strongholds of the Boshin War. However, it was destroyed by Samurai still loyal to the Tokugawa Shogunate after the Boshin War of 1868, a rebellion against the newly formed Meiji government. The castle was rebuilt as a concrete reconstruction in the 1960s, and in renovation works completed in 2011 the color of the roof tiles was changed from grey to the original red tiles. The inside of the castle houses a museum with displays depicting the history of the castle and the Samurai lifestyle. After touring the castle, we will return to the ryokan to retrieve your main luggage. Breakfast at the ryokan and dinner at the ryokan included.

Travel: 1 Hour;; Walking: Heavy

Day 4Travel to Nyuto Onsen; Overnight Nyuto Onsen

Before leaving Aizu-Wakamatsu, you will need to prepare your luggage to transfer to Akita. We will be traveling to Nyuto Onsen, Kakunodate, and Akita with an overnight bag only. Please prepare your overnight bag for 2 days and 1 night. Today we will travel by train and bus to Nyuto Onsen. Nyuto Onsen is a collection of mostly traditional and rustic onsen ryokan in the mountains of eastern Akita Prefecture. The name Nyuto Onsen means “nipple hot spring” and comes from the suggestive shape of nearby Mount Nyuto rather than the milky/cloudy appearance of the area’s hot spring water. Breakfast at the ryokan and dinner at the ryokan included.

Travel: 4 1/2 Hours; Walking: Light

Day 5Travel to Kakunodate; Kakunodate - Kakunodate Denshokan, Samurai Homes; Travel to Akita

After breakfast at the ryokan we will travel to Kakunodate. Kakunodate is a former castle town, and while the castle no longer exists, the samurai tradition is still strong. Today, the samurai district has some of the best preserved examples of samurai homes anywhere in Japan. We will tour two homes: the Aoyogi and the Ishiguro. The Aoyogi home is the largest in Kakunodate, and includes multiple buildings with musuem collections documenting the samurai traditions and history in Kakunodate. The area open to visitors at the Ishiguro home is limited because the Ishiguro family still maintains a residence in the home. We will finish our time in Kakunodate at the Denshokan Museum. This museum has numerous local arts and handicrafts on display, the most prominent being items made from cherry tree bark. During the cold winter months, the samurai would earn extra income by making these items. We will depart Kakunodate and travel to Akita by train. You will retrieve your main luggage after checking into the hotel. Breakfast at the ryokan and lunch at a local restaurant is included.

Travel: 1 1/2 Hours; Walking: Medium

Day 6Travel by train to Aomori with Tsuruga Shamisen Performance; Aomori - Nebuta Warasse Museum; Travel to Hakodate; Hakodate - Hakodate Ropeway

Before leaving Akita, you will need to prepare your luggage to transfer to Noboribetsu Onsen. We will be traveling to Aomori, Hakodate, and Noboribetsu Onsen with an overnight bag only. Please prepare your overnight bag for 2 days and 1 night. After breakfast we will travel to Aomori by Resort Shirakami. The Resort Shirakami is a sightseeing train along the scenic coastline in northern Japan. Since the train goes through the Tsugaru Peninsula, Tsugaru Shamisen players will board the train for part of the trip. After arriving in Aomori, we will stop at the Nebuta Warasse Museum, dedicated to the city’s famous Nebuta Matsuri (Nebuta Festival) held every year in early August. The Nebuta Warasse Museum attempts to capture the spirit of the festival and gives visitors a taste of its lively atmosphere, history, and traditions. From here we will travel to Hakodate. Hakodate was one of the first cities open to the West after the Meiji Restoration. In the evening we will take a cable car to the top of Mt. Hakodate where we will enjoy a panoramic view of Hakodate’s night lights. Breakfast at the ryokan and dinner at a local restaurant included.

Travel: 4 1/2 Hours; Walking: Medium

Day 7Hakodate - Hakodate Morning Market; Travel to Noboribetsu Onsen; Overnight Noboribetsu Onsen

Early in the morning after breakfast we will visit the Hakodate Morning Market where the sellers can prepare the specialties of Hakodate (crab, sea urchin, and squid) fresh from their stalls for breakfast. We will then travel to Noboribetsu Onsen, one of the most popular and famous hot spring resorts in Japan. After arriving at Noboribetsu Onsen and picking up your main luggage, you will have free time to explore places like the Jigoku-dani (Hell Valley) and the other geothermal activity in the area. You will also have time to relax in one of the many hot springs in Noboribetsu Onsen. Breakfast and dinner at the ryokan are included.

Travel: 4 Hours; Walking: Medium

Day 8Sapporo

After breakfast you will have some free time in Noboribetsu Onsen. You will be sent back to Sapporo or Sapporo’s Chitose airport, depending on whether you will continue around Japan on your own, or fly home (or back to Tokyo). If going to the airport you can arrive at the airport at 11am or 12:10pm. If returning to Sapporo you can arrive at 12:00pm. Breakfast at the ryokan included.

Travel: TBD; Walking: TBD

Walking level descriptions:
Light – 0 to 2 miles on level ground
Medium – 2 to 4 miles on level ground or 0 to 2 miles on hilly ground
Heavy – 4 to 6 miles on level ground or 2 to 4 miles on hilly ground

Dates & Pricing
DatesPrice (land only) / Single Supplement
(All prices are per Person)
StatusAssigned Lodging
Jun 11, 2023 - Jun 18, 2023
Jul 16, 2023 - Jul 23, 2023
Aug 20, 2023 - Aug 27, 2023
Sep 17, 2023 - Sep 24, 2023
Oct 15, 2023 - Oct 22, 2023

Add-On Tours

Our tours and tour itineraries are the best, but as the saying goes, “you can’t make everyone happy all of the time”. There may a specific destination or a specific experience you may want to include in your visit to Japan that may not be included your tour. Choose from our Add On tours to include your interests and make your Japan tour even better.

Click HERE to view all of the Add-On Tours.

Or, use the arrows to scroll though the recommended list of Add-On Tours for this tour. 

  • Local, licensed, English-speaking, Japanese guides
  • Travel insurance from Travel Guard, one of the world’s largest travel insurance providers, will be provided to everyone from the United States. All others will receive a $100 per person credit and will be responsible for obtaining their own travel insurance in their own home country. (The insurance provided by Samurai Tours will cover the land portion only. Insurance to cover airfare and other additional expenses is the tour member’s responsibility.)
  • All transportation from Tokyo to Sapporo as described in the itinerary
  • Lodging for 7 nights in Japanese-style ryokans or western-style hotels
  • Meals:
    • Breakfast every morning from Day 2 through Day 8 of the itinerary
    • One Japanese-style lunch
    • Five Japanese-style dinners
  • All transportation costs when traveling with the group (transportation costs during scheduled free times are the tour member’s responsibility)
  • Admission fees to the destinations and activities listed in the Tour Highlights column on the right (itinerary specifics subject to change)
  • Electronic version of itinerary
  • Sayonara dinner at the end of the tour

Each tour member receives an electronic copy of our tour handbook. This handbook is full of tips and suggestions taken from our Japan travel experiences that allow you to better plan and prepare for your trip, and therefore enjoy your trip even more. The tips and suggestions included cover everything from how to save while exchanging money, what to pack, some basic Japanese-language tips, general etiquette do’s-and-don’ts, ryokan customs, etc.


  • Airfare is NOT included.
  • Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and desserts are NOT included
  • Transportation to Tokyo at the beginning of the tour
  • Transportation from Sapporo at the end of the tour
  • A printed itinerary is not included
4 Reviews

Terrie Raymond

I would be very hard to single out something as “the best”. Taking in the baths was something (initially) outside of my comfort zone , that I quickly adapted and enjoyed. Scenery was amazing. On my last day, we did a hike thorough a volcano valley with active sulphur lakes and steam vents. (Made the ones I’ve seen in Hawaii look like midgets). As we traveled to several local/more rural areas, I had many options to meet with locals. In most of the hotels, I was the only Westerner, but I felt welcomed and accepted. It was also nice to travel within Japan by a variety of transports, local train, high speed train, local buses. Gave things a more authenic feel and experience. I especially appreciated that Samurai Tours did NOT do any of those (utterly annoying) pre-arranged tour stops at a merchandiser so they can push their wares in exchange for providing lunch.


Thank you so much for your kind words and great review of our tour! We so appreciate the time you took to give us your feedback, and we are so happy you had a good time. Our guides are truly the best in the business, and it sounds like that was part of what made your trip so special. We hope to see you again sometime in Japan!

~Samurai Tours Staff

Tour Date: Sep 22nd, 2019

Ralph Schoolcraft

We are now with a second tour in Japan. What a difference! The second tour gives tells us little about the history and modern development of Japan but we certainly have not missed any junky souvenir shop in this part of Japan.

Tour Date: Oct 7th, 2018

Michael Levers

We had an absolutely superb time. Rather sad it’s all over now. I think we will be back again in future!

Tour Date: Nov 30th, -0001

Charles E Colson

I really encourage visitors to Japan to supplement their “typical tours” with one or more of these mini-tours, or to cobble together several of these into a longer experience.

Tour Date: Nov 30th, -0001