Getting There & Getting Around -- Northern Tohoku's major airports are in Aomori and Akita. The regular one-way JAL fares from Tokyo's Haneda Airport are ¥30,200 to Aomori Airport (AOJ) and ¥24,700 to Akita (AXT). You can also travel to Tohoku via Shinkansen bullet train from Ueno or Tokyo Station in Tokyo to Akita (¥16,470 for a reserved seat), with stops at Kakunodate and Tazawako, a convenient springboard for travel onward to Towada-Hachimantai National Park.
Although there is bus service in the national park, buses to some of the more remote areas are infrequent or nonexistent. For that reason, Tohoku is one of the few regions in Japan where rental cars are a great convenience, if not a necessity. In addition to car-rental agencies at both Aomori and Akita airports, there are JR Eki Rent-A-Car offices at train stations throughout Japan, including Aomori, Morioka, Kakunodate, and Tazawako stations, which offer 20% discounts for train fares booked in conjunction with car rentals. You'll also find Toyota Rent-A-Car (www.toyotarentacar.net) offices virtually everywhere. If you want to keep your driving to a minimum, I suggest taking a Shinkansen as far as Tazawako or Kakunodate and then, after seeing the sights there, drive to Nyuto Onsen for the night before continuing northward to Lake Towada. A 2-day rental of a subcompact car costs about ¥14,700, including mileage and insurance. Drop-off fees can add ¥4,000 to ¥9,000, depending on the distance. Keep in mind that Tohoku's winter season, from November to March, can bring below-freezing temperatures and up to a foot of snowfall virtually overnight. Some mountain passes are occasionally closed due to snowfall, though access to major ski resorts is generally open.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.