|From Tokyo:||2-5 hr|
|From Fukushima or Koriyama:||1-2 hr|
|From Sendai:||2-4 hr|
|From Niigata Station:||2-4 hr|
How to Get There
Bandai-Asahi National Park is Japan’s second-largest national park, stretching across Yamagata, Fukushima, and Niigata prefectures. It can broadly be divided into three areas: Dewa Sanzan/Asahi, Iide, and Bandai-Azuma/Inawashiro. In light of the park’s size and diverse highlights, renting a car is the best option to explore the area. However, public transportation is also available to some popular sites.
Transportation times and methods depend on which parts of the park you earmark for a visit. One method is to select an initial destination then locate the closest shinkansen stop. Convenient stations from Tokyo include Koriyama Station (80 min) and Fukushima Station (95 min) on the Tohoku Shinkansen for the Bandai-Azuma/Inawashiro and Iide areas, respectively. Niigata Station, meanwhile, is less than two hours on the Joetsu Shinkansen and offers access to the Dewa Sanzan and Asahi areas.
For the Asahi area, there are two train-and-bus routes via the Yamagata Shinkansen. From Kitayamagata Station, transfer to the Aterazawa Line at to Aterazawa Station. From Yonezawa Station transfer to the Yonesaka Line to Ogunimachi Station. Buses from both stations serve the Asahi area.
It takes two hours between Tsuruoka Station on the Uetsu Main Line to the Awataki Trailhead in the Asahi mountain range (weekends only). To reach the trailhead on weekdays, take a train from Tsuruoka Station to the Otori Traihead, then a taxi to the Awataki Trailhead. It takes 40 minutes from Oguni Station on the Yonesaka Line to reach the Gomizawa Trailhead in the Asahi mountain range.
From Koriyama Station or Fukushima Station
The easiest way to reach the Bandai-Azuma/Inawashiro area is by riding the Tohoku Shinkansen to Fukushima Station or Koriyama Station, then renting a car. Be sure to check out such scenic roads as the Bandaisan Gold Line, the Bandai-Azuma Skyline and the Bandai-Azuma Lakeline (all three are closed in winter, generally from mid-November to mid-April). The Urabandai Visitor Center can be reached by riding the Tohoku Shinkansen to Koriyama Station, transferring to the JR Banetsu West Line, and traveling to Inawashiro Station before taking a Bandai Toto Bus to the Goshikinuma stop.
The Iide mountain trails are best accessed by car, but they can also be reached via the Tohoku Shinkansen to Koriyama Station, then take the Banetsu West Line to Nozawa Station or Tokusawa station, where you can get buses to Mount Iide. You can also catch buses from Oguni Station and Echigo-Shimonoseki on the Yonosaka Line.
During the summer season, it takes 45 minutes between Yamato Station on the Banetsu West Line to the Kawairi Trailhead. It takes one hour from Nozawa Station or Tokusawa Station on the Banetsu West Line to the Yahei Sirou Trailhead (reservations required), and one hour from Echigo-Shimonoseki Station on the Yonesaka Line to Iidesanso (or Kairagisou during the out-of-season period).
To reach the Bandai-Azuma/Inawashiro area and the Iide mountains, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Fukushima Station or Koriyama Station then follow the instructions in the section above. The Dewa Sanzan area is best approached from Sendai; take a bus along the Sendai-Honjo line to Tsuruoka and alight at S-MALL Bus Terminal.
From Niigata Station
The Dewa Sanzan and Asahi areas are best reached by taking the JR Joetsu Shinkansen to Niigata Station then catching the JR Inaho limited express train (120 min) to Tsuruoka Station, a hub for the Shonai Kotsu Bus service that will take you to your final destination. You can also fly from Haneda Airport to Shonai Airport (60 min) then take a bus to Tsuruoka Station. If you prefer the freedom of a car, you'll find rental companies at the airport and in central Tsuruoka.
To get to the Mount Iide trailheads from Niigata Station, take the Uetsu Main Line to Shibata Station and then take a bus.
Due to limited public transportation and the size of the park, renting a car will help make the most of your visit. You can easily rent a car in midsize and large cities such as Koriyama, Fukushima, Aizu-Wakamatsu, Kitakata in the Bandai-Azuma/Inawashiro area, and at Shonai Airport or the Tsuruoka City in the Dewa Sanzan and Asahi areas. Whether you use a car or public transportation, double-check your routes ahead of time for seasonal changes and closures: The Bandai-Azuma Skyline closes during the harsh winter months, and buses including those that run to the Azuma Mountains do not operate during the winter. Conversely, the popularity of skiing in some parts of the park (such as Mount Bandai) increases some transportation options, especially shuttles offered by private resorts.