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佐々木 豊志(ささき  とよし)

Representative director

Toyoshi Sasaki

Born in Iwate in 1957.
I was born and raised in Iwate, and the influence of various childhood experiences spending time in nature led me on the path to outdoor/adventure education. The 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit inspired me to also become interested in environmental issues. In 1996, I used my own money to open Kurikoma Kougen Nature School, ever since then putting education into practice to provide a place to nurture young people’s power to live. I’m working to make society and individuals who can create rich sustainable ways of life coexisting with nature. After the 2008 Iwate-Miyagi earthquake, I lost my main base of activity for years. After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, we were one of the first to set up a volunteer center, rushing to start support work, which led to contributing to the Michinoku Coastal Trail, one of the Ministry of the Environment’s disaster recovery projects.
Currently I am researching nature experiences and environmental education’s role in society at Aomori University’s Faculty of Comprehensive Management, promoting SDGs both within and without the university.

相澤 久美(あいざわ  くみ)

Managing Director/Secretary-General

Kumi Aizawa

I was born in Tokyo in 1969 and raised in various parts of Japan and on the east coast of the US.
I grew up here and there in various parts of Japan, from early childhood on growing up immersed in nature, with the ocean, mountains or rivers nearby. I spent six years during high school and college in the US before returning to Japan. After that I started doing work in team-focused creative efforts including magazine and book editing, film-making and local art projects, using my architectural design office as a base. Since 2011, I’ve been going to coastal Tohoku, learning a lot and being supported by many people. Starting in 2015, I contributed to the creation of the Michinoku Coastal Trail management plan, then founded Michinoku Trail Club. I became fascinated with the joys of journeys on foot, and fostering hiking culture is my life’s work. I spend my days grateful for all the people who work alongside us.
My other hats include representative director of Shinsai Regain, director at silent voice, Trail Blaze Hiking Lab, RQ Disaster Education Center, and Mother Architecture, and starting in April 2021, a guest professor at Aomori University.

加藤 正芳(かとう まさよし)


Masayoshi Kato

I was born in Saitama. After retiring from a long career in high school education, and hiking the Shinetsu Trail once a year, I became a director at Michinoku Trail Club from the time it was founded through a connection with my older brother, Noriyoshi Kato. I’d heard from my brother many times since around 2006 how he wanted there to be a trail going through the Sanriku coastline (at the time, calling it the “Sanriku Trail”). I think Noriyoshi must be very happy that his dearest wish came true in June 2019, when the Michinoku Coastal Trail, the longest national trail in Japan at over 1000 kilometers long, fully opened. Over a series of section hikes, I’ve walked the entire Michinoku Coastal Trail, wearing my brother’s bandanna and accompanied by memories of my brother who didn’t get to hike this trail himself.

松井 章(まつい あき)


Aki Matsui

One of the Michinoku Coastal Trail’s diehard fans.
My involvement started in 2017 through work, and before I knew it I was a director of Michinoku Trail Club. I am obsessed with what I’ve encountered on the Michinoku Coastal Trail: the beauty of the ocean, the wide open skies, the breathing of the forest, the glittering streams, and above all else the warm friendliness of people I encountered. Since 2021 I’ve become a Trail Angel based on the south end of the Sanriku Fukko National Park so I can spend more time with some of my favorite kinds of people, rich spirited long distance hikers. I’m planning to enjoy myself and make the Michinoku Coastal Trail last for the next 100 years as a start.

土屋 智哉(つちや ともや)


Motoyoshi Tsuchiya

Born in 1971. I was fascinated by a copy of “Introduction to Backpacking” picked up at a used book store, and started mountain climbing with my university’s exploration club. After graduation, while working at an outdoor shop I discovered the world of ultralight hiking and rediscovered what’s so wonderful about journeys on foot. In 2008, I opened Hiker’s Depot, a store in Mitaka, Tokyo specializing in ultralight hiking and long distance trails. I myself have gone overseas to thru-hike the John Muir Trail and Colorado Trail, and in 2019 visited the Long Trail in Vermont, which is the oldest long distance trail in the United States. Within Japan I have done long distance hikes including a 300 kilometer mountain hike from the Okutama range to the Northern Japanese Alps.
My wife’s family home is in Miyako, where her family works with marine products, so I feel a close hometown-like connection to the Michinoku Coastal Trail. I’ve also had the opportunity directly hear the departed Noriyoshi Kato’s passion for this trail, and I very much want to attain a world class long distance trail in our hometown.
I actively take part in not only running a store but also venturing out to events and more, sharing the wonders of ultralight hiking and long distance trails. Author of “Ultralight Hiking” (Yama-Kei Publishers Co) and co-author of “Enjoying No-Man’s Land: Traveling on Human Power and the Art of Camping” (Graphic-sha Publishing Co.)

関 博充(せき ひろみつ)

Deputy Secretary-General/General Manager

Hiromitsu Seki

I was born in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture. When I was in college, I grew interested in ancient Tohoku’s iron culture and started making trips to Tohoku’s Pacific coast, a place I had no previous connections to. Since then I’ve been supported by many of Tohoku’s warmhearted people. During the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, I was staying in Morioka, Iwate for a survey, which led me to a job working with the Sanriku Geopark while living in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. I was deeply, irrevocably a fan of Sanriku and its people, and there was no turning back. I’m always thinking about ways to share this wonderful place with more people, and the Michinoku Coastal Trail is perfect for that: savoring Sanriku on a long-term journey on foot. Definitely consider coming to walk though Sanriku with the MCT.

板橋 真美(いたばし まさみ)

Deputy Secretary-General/Natori Trail Center Deputy General Manager

Masami Itabashi

I have been working to promote what’s so great about this trail since my previous position managing public relations for the Michinoku Coastal Trail at the Ministry of the Environment Tohoku Regional Environment Office. I was born and raised in Miyagi. After living through the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, I wanted to do something to help promote recovery from the disaster in even a small way, and fate or chance led me to this work. I remember feeling strongly attracted to the fact that the Michinoku Coastal Trail would convey memories of past disasters to future generations and bring about new connections between local people and those who come to hike the trail, and thinking “I want to see the day when this trail is complete.” As this trail started to connect together little by little, so did my heart start to gradually turn away from the memories of that day in 2011 and towards the future. Just as there are hikers whose perspectives on life change as they walk a path, there can also be people whose perspectives on life change while helping to form that path. The latter is who I am now.

板谷 学(いたや まなぶ)

Natori Trail Center General Manager

Manabu Itaya

Born June 1st, 1962.
I had decided to spend 2019 traveling throughout Japan in a camper van, hiking mountains and trails, and was getting ready for my journey when I joined “Long Distance Hikers Day” at Hiker’s Depot on a whim. There, I got to hear Mr. Tsuchiya and Mr. Hasegawa of Hiker’s Depot speak passionately about the Michinoku Coastal Trail. I thought, I definitely need to hike this trail, and as a hiker in Japan I need to help this trail grow. That was how it all started. After hiking mountains in Kyushu and Hokkaido and trails including the Kitanemuro Ranch Way and the Shinetsu Trail, I was about to start my thru-hike of the Michinoku Coastal Trail in October 2019 when Typhoon Hagibis struck. As I postponed my start date and waited for a suitable time to start my hike, I was invited to participate in surveys to assess typhoon damage on the trail in November. A few months later, I started my journey from Hachinohe, Aomori, thru-hiking 47 days to reach my goal at the southern terminus in Soma, Fukushima.
This journey of 1025 kilometers taking with my own two feet was even more amazing than I had anticipated. After my hike, I started working at Michinoku Trail Club’s headquarters in February 2020.  I experienced so much kindness as a hiker on the Michinoku Coastal Trail and I aim to spend my time working at Natori Trail Center paying that kindness forward to current hikers.
The Michinoku Coastal Trail brought many things and so many people to me. To me, it was less Trail Magic, and more like it was a Magic Trail.

西澤 美幸(にしざわ みゆき)

Area Coordination Lead

Miyuki Nishizawa

I was born and raised in Hokkaido and worked there too. I decided that I wanted to change careers into something where I could work in regional development with local people, and was introduced to the Michinoku Trail Club by Mr. Kimura, who was a director of Michinoku Trail Club at the time. Talking with then-director Kimura was the first I’d even heard of a long-distance trail, but I was super quick to act, going to Natori the very next day to take a look at Michinoku Trail Club’s workplace.
I spend my days involved with the Michinoku Coastal Trail,  learning about Tohoku, natural disasters, and trails and enjoying my time working alongside and talking with local people. I’m working towards walking the entire Michinoku Coastal Trail little by little, and towards no longer being the staff member with the unfortunate distinction of having walked the Michinoku Coastal Trail the least.

森 恭平(もり きょうへい)

Trail Management/Sales Lead

Kyohei Mori

Born in Wakayama and raised in Osaka. My first solo trip was running away from home on a bicycle as a middle schooler (the goal was a journey across all of Japan, but in actuality I was taken under custody between Osaka and Wakayama). I first encountered the Michinoku Coastal Trail in the summer of my second year at college by participating in a test run of the MCT called “Walking, Connecting, Leading the Way” and walking the northern part of the trail course. In my fourth year of college, I took some time off to travel around overseas, though I can’t speak much English, then came back to finish my remaining credits and job search. After a September graduation, I had half a year until my full time job started. It was a tossup between hiking the Michinoku Coastal Trail and going abroad to study English, but I decided on the Michinoku Coastal Trail. It took three days from the start of my hike from Hachinohe to hurt my foot, but I managed to make it to Matsukawaura thanks to help from many people, in the process becoming a fan of Tohoku. Since I did a lot of detours off the trail route walking on national highways, I’m not exactly sure I’m a “thru-hiker.” Manabu suggested calling myself a “backpacker” instead, and that suits me quite nicely.


Part Time Staff

Anna Thomas

I’m from Oregon in the United States and enjoy a variety of Japanese foods, including natto and shirako, and excluding goya. Is sake a Japanese food? I enjoy that too.
Before I knew it, I’d been in Japan for a decade, spending most of that time in Iwate. Last year, I moved to Shibata, Miyagi. Learning how to read the local place names is a work in process.
My hobbies are hiking, birdwatching, and programming. My partners in crime are my husband and a black cat with long fangs.
I’m a section hiker of the Michinoku Coastal Trail and have completed 700 kilometers, so if you have a question about places to stay and public transportation I can give you a section-hiker’s perspective. I’m at Natori Trail Center on an irregular basis.