Hachinohe-sen 八戸線

From an evening Hachinohe-sen train north of Rikuchû Yagi, looking out onto the Pacific Ocean. (2019)

HRT  Hachinohe Rinkai Tetsudô

ST   Sanriku Tetsudô


a   Hon Hachinohe

b   Rikuchû Yagi

c   Samuraihama


The city of Hachinohe is an important port and industrial town facing the Pacific Ocean in the southeast of Honshû's northernmost prefecture of Aomori. The diesel operated Hachinohe-sen serves the city, branching off the Tôhoku Honsen which passes through the area around 6 km to the east. The station named Hachinohe is the junction with the Tôhoku Honsen and the Tôhoku Shinkansen, the city itself being served by the stations Hon Hachinohe (Hachinohe Central), Konakano, Mutsu* Minato, Shirogane and Same.

After Same, Hachinohe-sen trains emerge from Hachinohe Bay and turn south to follow the Pacific Coast. The line is often close to the sea, but separated from it by beautiful pine forests, particularly along Tanesashi Kaigan (Tanegashi Coast) and the Prefectural Natural Park. The border into Iwate Prefecture is crossed at Kadonohama (29, 5 km from Hachinohe). After Shukunohe halt (40, 0 km from Hachinohe) the line clings to the seashore, offering spectacular views of the approaching waves. Rikuchû* Yagi (43, 1 km from Hachinohe, 5, 4 m above sea level) is one of the more important fishing villages on the line. After a particularly scenic stretch along the Ocean to Rikuchû Nakano (40, 7 m above sea level) the train starts a very fierce climb up to the summit of Samuraihama (155 m above sea level). Through dense forests and from time to time with breath-taking views of the wild mountains of Iwate Prefecture the train then descends sharply down to Rikuchû Natsui (61, 7 km from Hachinohe), which is only about 9 m above sea level. The present end of the Hachinohe-sen is reached at Kuji, 64, 9 km from Hachinohe.


The earliest railway lines in Hachinohe Bay were built in 1894 and taken over by the state in 1906. Several freight lines and services existed in the area, and these were closed by the 1980s. However, the freight-only Hachinohe Rinkai Tetsudô (Hachinohe Coastal Railway, built in 1970, 8, 5 km long and serving the Hachinohe industrial belt and the port) continues in operation.

Through the town of Hachinohe the railway has been reconstructed in elevated position much of the way.

The line to down to Kuji was built 1924 – 1930. In 1975 construction was resumed, and trains now continued southward from Kuji to Fudai, 91 km from Hachinohe. In 1984 this section was handed over to the Sanriku Tetsudô and now forms part of their northern line from Miyako to Kuji (Miyako – Tashiro opened 1972, Tashiro – Fudai opened 1984). Formerly, Sanriku Tetsudô trains operated some services right through up to Hachinohe, and there were also coastal trains along the entire coast between Hachinohe and Sendai via Kesennuma. After the tsunami disaster of 2011 and the destruction of the Ôfunato- and Kesennuma-sen coastal sections this is no longer possible. The Hachinohe-sen itself was severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, and could only be fully reopened on March 17, 2012. From October to December 2019 partial closure again affected the line due to typhoon damage.

The Hachinohe-sen today sees 9 stopping trains per direction between Hachinohe and Kuji, as well as the seasonally operated tourist train "Umineko" ("[Black-tailed] Sea Gull"). In addition, there are 10 services between Hachinohe and Same.

* Mutsu 陸奥 is the ancient name for present-day Aomori-ken (together with the Ninohe area in Iwate-ken). (However, originally, Mutsu referred to a very much larger entity)

* Rikuchû 陸中 corresponds roughly (but not completely) to present-day Iwate Prefecture

Kuji endstop, with train set KIHA E131- and 132-506 waiting to depart for Hachinohe. In the background are diesel cars of the Sanriku Tetsudô. (2019)

KIHA E130-502 at Kuji station. (2019)

Kuji station, with JR KIHA 40 524 + a KIHA 48 on the left, and a Sanriku Tetsuô train in the centre. (2014)

In the days when some Sanriku Tetsudô trains ran through to Hachinohe. Here ST 36-104 is waiting to leave for the north. (2008)

After departing from Kuji to the north the Kujigawa River is crossed. The train consists of (from right to left) KIHA E132- and 131-504, and KIHA E130-501. (2019)

Crossing the Kujigawa River. The train consists of (from right to left) KIHA E132- and 131-504, and KIHA E130-501. (2019)

From the train on a sunny day in the Kuji area, near Rikuchû Natsui. (2019)

In a train on the steep incline down from Samuraihama to the Kuji area. View over the mountains of Iwate Prefecture. (2019)

In the pouring rain on the incline from Kuji up to Samuraihama. (2008)

Samuraihama summit, with train set KIHA E132- and 131-506. (2019)

Samuraihama summit, with the tourist panoramic train "Umineko" (KIHA 48-1505, KIHA 48-1534, KIHA 48-1506). (2014)

Descending from Samuraihama, near Uge halt. (2019)

Near Uge. (2019)

In a furious rain storm, descending from Samuraihama towards Uge. (2008)

Seen from panoramic train "Umineko", near Uge. (2014)

Midday time, near Uge. (2019,

Looking south, near Uge. (2019)

Looking south, near Uge. (2008)

Looking south, near Uge. (2014)

At Rikuchû Yagi. (2019)

KIHA 58 521 at Rikuchû Yagi, in 1972.

North of Rikuchû Yagi. (2019)

From the train at Hiranai, south of Hashikami. (2019)

Kadonohama halt, south of Hashikami. People use the railway track as a footpath to get home. (2014)

Hashikami, the main crossing point between along the line. Here a Sanriku Tetsudô train running through to Hachinohe is at the platform. The train is formed of three cars, 36-104, 36-601 and 36-1107. (2008)

The middle coach (KIHA 48 1534) of the panoramic train "Umineko" at Hashikami. (2014)

A two-car train to Kuji passing through Hashikami. The cars are KIHA 40 558 + KIHA 40 545. (2014)

Typical scenery on the northern section of the line around Tanesashi Kaigan. The train follows the ocean behind deep green pine forests. (2019)

Tanesashi Kaigan, changing from the train to the local bus. The conductor gets off the train and checks the tickets at the station. (2019)

Nearing Same and the Bay of Hachinohe. (2014)

After leaving Same on a train bound for Kuji. (2019)

Nearing Same on a train from the south, with the Bay of Hachinohe and the industrial belt in the background. (2019)

Train set KIHA E132-501 and E131-501 on a local service to Same. (2019)

At the station of Shirogane, in Hachinohe town. (2014)

From the train on the elevated section at Hon Hachinohe (Hachinohe Central). (2019)

Train set KIHA E130 502 + E130 504 on its way from Hachinohe town to the endstop at Hachinohe junction. On the right is the Hachinohe Rinkai Tetsudô with locomotive DD16 303 and a long freight train carrying containers. (2019)