Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Best Seats on the Akita Shinkansen: Komachi

Akita Prefecture is one of our most favorite destinations in Japan’s rural area. And the good news is that getting to Akita from Tokyo isn’t hard either! All you need to do is jump onto a bullet train called Komachi. It is the name for all Akita Shinkansen. The next question you might ask is: which seat to choose? Read on for more information about the bullet train that travels between Tokyo and Akita!

Table of Contents

About Akita Shinkansen

The Akita Shinkansen runs between Morioka Station (盛岡駅) and Akita Station (秋田駅) via Tazawako Station (田沢湖駅), Kakunodate Station (角館駅), and Ōmagari Station (大曲駅). The section between Tokyo Station and Morioka Station is run by the Tōhoku Shinkansen (東北新幹線).

All Akita Shinkansen uses the 7-car E6 series. Many Akita Shinkansen is combined with the 10-car Tōhoku Shinkansen, Hayabusa (はやぶさ).

The scene can’t be seen if you are onboard either the Hayabusa or the Komachi. Hayabusa arrives first at the station. The train doors will be closed before it is connected with Komachi. The passengers on Komachi can only leave the train after the connection process is completed.

If you take the bullet train from Tokyo, carriages 11 to 17 are the Akita Shinkansen, Komachi.

A simple way to tell if you are in the right carriage is to check the train’s color. Hayabusa has green carriages, whereas all Komachi carriages are in red.

Akita Shinkansen was named after Ono no Komachi (小野 小町), a famous poet of the Heian period.

A special thing about Komachi is that the direction of travel changes at Ōmagari Station (大曲駅). Thus, if you board the train between Akita Station and Ōmagari Station, the seats face opposite to the train’s travel direction.

The direction reversion might surprise those who are taking Akita Shinkansen for the first time. They might wonder if they have overslept or if the train is traveling in the opposite direction.

Which Stations Does the Akita Shinkansen Stop at

Komachi is operated on a 60-minute interval.

Taking the fastest Komachi takes around 3 hours and 40 minutes to travel from Tokyo to Akita. The train stops at Tokyo (東京), Ueno (上野), Ōmiya (大宮), Sendai (仙台), Morioka (盛岡), Ōmagari (大曲), and Akita (秋田).

A slower version of Akita Shinkansen also has stops at Tazawako (田沢湖) and Kakunodate (角館) after Morioka before reaching Ōmagari. Around four times a day, the train also stops at Shizukuishi (雫石) between Morioka and Tazawako.

The first and last Komachi train has additional stops at Furukawa (古川), Kurikomakogen (くりこま高原), Ichinoseki (一ノ関), Mizusawaesashi (水沢江刺), Kitakami (北上), and Shin-Hanamaki (新花巻) after it departs from Sendai before reaching Morioka.

The Best Scenery Along Akita Shikansen

The scenery is the most stunning between Shizukuishi Station (雫石駅) and Tazawako Station (田沢湖駅).

In this section, nature is mostly unexplored and the view has the least artificial elements.

The Best Seats on Akita Shinkansen/Komachi

If you board the Komachi from Tokyo, deciding on which seat to reserve is hard. From Tokyo and Morioka, the best scenery is from seats on the train’s left.

However, from Morioka and Ōmagari, the beautiful rural landscape spreads on the train’s right.

You can refer to JR East’s Japanese Website to see the seat map. Click the green “座席表を見る+” button to open the seat map.

Tip: If you have a JR Pass, you can book your seats separately. The first leg is between Tokyo and Morioka. The second leg is between Morioka and Akita.

The Scenery from Komachi’s Window from Tokyo (東京) to Sendai (仙台)

  • The mountain view of your train trip starts from around Utsunomiya Station (宇都宮駅).
    • The mountain close to the station is Mt. Nantai (男体山) in the Nikkō National Park in Tochigi Prefecture.
  • The mountains close to Nasushiobara Station (那須塩原駅) are Mt. Nasu (那須岳) and Mt. Sanbonyaridake (三本槍岳). Because the area is mountainous, the train will go through several tunnels.
    • This section of the train ride is where you can see snowy mountains up close in the winter.
    • Mt. Nasu is a group of volcanoes located in the northeast part of Nikkō National Park.
    • Mt. Sanbonyaridake is located at the northern end of the Nasu Volcano Group on the border of Fukushima and Tochigi Prefecture.
  • Passing the Kōriyama Station (郡山駅), you will see Mt. Adatara (安達太良山).
    • You can see the mountain’s foothills clearly from the train.
    • Mt. Adatara is a stratovolcano in Fukushima Prefecture.
  • The scenery of Mt. Azuma (吾妻山) close to Fukushima Station (福島駅) is the best between Tokyo and Sendai. Fukushima City is surrounded by mountains, so you can see the snow-capped mountains in winter from the bullet train rather clearly!

Tip: When the snow starts to melt in spring, the remaining snow often makes the top of Mt. Azuma look like a rabbit. The locals thus named the view “Snow Rabbit (雪うさぎ)”. So don’t focus on your phone when the train is in the long tunnel. The Snow Rabbit appears as soon as the train comes out of the long tunnel!

  • Mt. Zao (蔵王山脈) is close to Shiroishizao Station (白石蔵王駅). From the window, you can see the magnificent mountains clearly. The train will pass through several tunnels in this area.

The Scenery from Komachi’s Window from Sendai (仙台) to Morioka (盛岡)

  • If the weather is good, you can see the mountains around Naruko Onsen (鳴子温泉) when the train is around Furukawa Station (古川駅).
  • Shortly after passing Ichinoseki Station (一ノ関駅), paddy fields spread along the train tracks.
    • The scenery is especially beautiful during the rice planting season in spring, as well as the rice harvesting season in autumn.
    • You can see the paddy fields no matter which side of the train you sit on.
  • You can see the mountains around Geto Kogen (夏油高原) when the train is close to Kitakami Station (北上駅).
    • The area has one of the heaviest snowfall areas in the Tōhoku region.

The Scenery from Komachi’s Window from Morioka (盛岡) to Tazawako (田沢湖)

  • From Morioka and Ōmagari, the seats on the left would face south. Depending on the season, the side of the train receives more sunlight during the day.
  • Because the famous mountains in the area such as Mt. Iwaki (岩木山) and Mt. Akita-Komagatake (秋田駒ヶ岳) are on the train’s right, the best seats are on the train’s right.
  • Soon after the train leaves Morioka Station (盛岡駅), the mountain on your right is Mt. Iwate (refer to the 1st photo in the IG post).
  • When the train is close to Shizukuishi Station (雫石駅), Mt. Akita-Komagatake will be visible (refer to the 2nd photo in IG post). 
    • On the train’s right, you will see two mountains linked to each other. The mountain on the left is Mt. Akita-Komagatake. The one on the right that appears to be slightly taller is Mt. Takakura (高倉山).
    • Mountains also spread on the train’s left. One is also called Mt. Takakura. Apparently, more than 40 mountains in Japan are named Takakura.
  • Akabuchi Station (赤渕駅) and Tazawako Station (田沢湖駅) are around 18km away. There is no train stations between them. The area before and after the 2,544m Sengen Tunnel (仙岩トンネル) is one of the most unexplored areas in Japan. 
    • Due to the aging rail track and tunnels, a new tunnel is currently being built. It is expected to be completed by 2032. Therefore, the scenery that you can see now from Akita Shinkansen will change in the future.

The Scenery from Komachi’s Window from Tazawako (田沢湖) to Akita (秋田)

  • Soon after the train leaves Tazawako Station (田沢湖駅), Obonai Power Plant (生保内発電所) is on the train’s right.
    • The white power plant completed in 1940 looks like a large cottage. Utilizing Lake Tazawa‘s water, it generates the most electricity in Akita Prefecture.

Seats With the Largest Seat Table

The seat tables for the front seats are the biggest. If the size of the table matters to you, reserve those seats.

That said, there should be sufficient space for your laptop to be placed on any bullet train seat table.

Seats With a Charging Socket/Outlet

The bullet trains manufactured before 2015 don’t have charging sockets for all seats. If this feature is important to you, reserve a window seat or the seats on the front row.

The front row seats also have sockets/outlets underneath the tables.

The Best Carriage for Wheelchair Users and Those Who Travels With Infants

  • Akita Shinkansen’s carriage 12 is the most wheelchair user friendly. It has seats specifically for wheelchair users, as well as toilets.
  • If you are travelling with infants, carriage 12 has baby beds, a toilet with a diaper changing table, and a Multipurpose Room.

Look for the Wheelchair Icon on the carriage map HERE and reserve a wheelchair-friendly seat. The carriage with a Multipurpose Room is marked by the icon “多” on the Carriage Map.

Seats Close to the Luggage Space

Most carriages of the Akita Shinkansen have a luggage space. When reserving your seat on the internet, you will notice that a few first-row seats (e.g. 1D and 1E or 1C and 1D, depending on the train type) are missing from the seat map. This is because the space has been turned into a luggage space.

We recommend that you book the seats around the space if you want to sit close to the luggage space.

There are also smaller luggage spaces on some carriages close to the carriage’s door for you to utilize, as shown in the Instagram post above.

You can refer to JR East’s Japanese Website to see the seat map. Click the green “座席表を見る+” button to open it.

If luggage space has run out on the train, you can secure your luggage using the handrail as shown in the photo.

How to Save Money When Taking Akita Shinkansen

Getting a Return Akita Shinkansen Ticket

If you plan to do a return trip from Tokyo to Akita, get a return ticket instead of two one-way tickets. Because the travel distance for a one-way trip is more than 600km, the ticket is 10% cheaper if you purchase a return ticket.

Specified Super Express Ticket (特定特急券)

While Akita Shinkansen is a reserved-only train, if there are vacant seats in cars 12 to 17 between Morioka and Akita, you can take it by purchasing the Specified Super Express Ticket (特定特急券) and the base fare ticket (乗車券). This method is around 500 yen cheaper than purchasing a reserved seat ticket (指定席特急券).

The Best Seats on the Tōhoku Shinkansen

The Best Seat on Tohoku Shinkansen Hayabusa
Click the photo to learn the best seats on the Tōhoku Shinkansen.

Besides Akita Shinkansen, you might also ride the Tōhoku Shinkansen to explore other prefectures in the Tōhoku region. If that is the case, you will find our The Best Seats on the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hokkaidō article useful.

Not only does the article provide you with tips as to what seats offer the best scenery along the train line, but you will also learn what view you can expect!

Do I Need a JR Pass & Is the JR Pass Worth It?

Once you have a rough idea of which prefectures and cities you want to visit during your next Japan trip, it is time to figure out if you need a JR Pass as not all itinerary requires one!

Our Guide to Do I Need a JR Pass & Is the JR Pass Worth It article has everything you need to know about the nationwide and regional JR Passes. It also covers other factors that can help you decide if a JR Pass is worth your upcoming trip or not!

Click the photo for everything you need to know about the JR Pass!

How to Buy a Bullet Train Ticket and Ride the Shinkansen

Click the photo for more information about how to buy a bullet train ticket and take a Shinkansen!

Now that you know which seat is the best on the bullet trains travelling between Tokyo and Hokkaidō, it is time to reserve your ticket!

Refer to our article on How to Buy a Bullet Train Ticket and Ride the Shinkansen for everything you need to know about the train ticket and how to take a bullet train in Japan!

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