Scenic Cliffs of Kitayamazaki

If you want to enjoy a scenic slideshow from the bus window before ending up in the most amazing coastal place, you have to travel through Sanriku Fukko National Park & take a look at the Kitayamazaki Cliffs.  It almost makes you feel like the main character of an adventure or traveling series. The brilliant blue Pacific Ocean, mysterious horizon, small port towns, peaceful Japanese coastal villages, the cape & the bay – all these make their special appearance as part of the enchanting Sanriku slideshow.

Sanriku Coastline

Sanriku Fukko National Park coastline is the coastal area along Pacific Ocean, famous for its rugged coastline. It extends over 180 km from Hachinohe (Aomori) to Ishinomaki (Miyagi). It is a national park which serves as an exemplary ocean landscape in Japan. The central part of the park is Miyako Bay, the northern part is typical large-scale, raised coast with a keen-cut cliffs, while the southern part is mostly Rias coast due to crustal sinking, with bay as narrow inlets formed by capes jutting out toward the ocean. Both coasts boast various scenic features such as sheer cliffs 50-200 km high, countless sea caves, and wave-cut shelves. Hence, this coast is called ‘Umi-no-Alps’ (The Alps of the sea).

Mysterious Pacific horizon

One of the interesting lookout spots of Sanriku Fukko National Park you should not miss is the Kitayamazaki Cliffs. Located in Tonahata Village, Iwate, it takes about 45 minutes from Miyako to get there. The meeting of Japan’s mainland and deep Pacific ocean is marked with tremendous cliffs along the coastline. You can enjoy the picturesque cliffs from the observatory decks or, if you have more time, get down to the beach and look for the specialty seaweed & sea urchins (uni), or try to observe inside the caves. (Unfortunately, I only had time to observe the cliffs from the observatory decks) .

View from the first observatory deck (facing south). Could you spot the rainy cloud?

There are two observatory decks close to the Rest House & Parking Area. From the rest house, its a quick 5 minute walk to the edge side and the first observatory deck. Likewise, it’s around a 10 minute walk down 200 stairs to the second observatory. Way worth the heavenly view, though, isn’t it?

You can see this view from second observatory deck. Do you want to touch the cave?I do.
On the way to second observatory deck, what a gorge!!

The first observatory deck directly facing out toward the Pacific Ocean with views of the Sanriku Coastline to the left and right. You can observe the cliff in detail using standing binoculars for only one coin 100yen/1 minute. Get your fill of vitamin Sea!! Definitely worth taking a look.

On the way down to the second observatory deck, you can see amazing views of gorges and cliffs on the left side (north). On the right side is a closer view than can be seen from the first observatory. It inticed us to reach out and try to touch the cliff & the caves below. The pine trees standing tall around the observatory deck and the peaceful sounds of the waves provide an authentic Japanese beach experience. You can spend hours just enjoying the fascinating view. If you are a landscape photography buff, don’t forget to bring your proper lenses – it is too good a chance to be missed!

Nice spot to wefie here!!
Enjoy this second observatory wefie!!

At the end of your visit, you can try the local specialty lunch at Kitayamazaki Rest House. Other things that you can buy here are ice cream and some nice souvenirs to add to your travel collections.

Useful information

Best time to visit: Spring-Summer-Autumn (Mar-Nov)
Entry & parking cost : free!!
Accomodation: Villa Tanohata
  • From Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo or Sendai—to Morioka(to Miyako 1 hr 59’ by Rapid Train Rias, JR Yamada Line) & Miyako-Kitayamazaki (1 hr)
  • JR Tohoku Main Line; JR Hachinohe Line from Aomori Station via Hachinohe to Kuji Station about 3hr
  • If you ride Kotatsu Train before, you can get off in Fudai Station & take car for 15 minute to Kitayamazaki.
  • Taxi, 8 minute from Tanohata Station (about 3500yen per taxi, up to 4 passengers )


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