Tōhoku Expressway

The Tōhoku Expressway (東北自動車道, Tōhoku Jidōsha-dō) is a south-north national expressway, and the longest expressway in Japan at 679.5 kilometers (422.2 mi). Its southern terminus is in Kawaguchi, Saitama in the Greater Tokyo Area, at the Tokyo Gaikan Expressway and Kawaguchi Route near Araijuku Station, and its northern terminus is at Aomori Interchange in Aomori, Aomori in the northern part of the Tōhoku region, where it meets the Aomori Expressway and Aomori Belt Highway near the Sannai-Maruyama Site.

Tōhoku Expressway sign

Tōhoku Expressway
E4 東北自動車道
Route information
Length679.5 km[2] (422.2 mi)
Major junctions
FromKawaguchi Junction [ja] in Kawaguchi, Saitama
C3_TG S1 Tokyo Gaikan Expressway / Kawaguchi Route
ToAomori Interchange in Aomori, Aomori
Aomori Expressway
National Route 7
Major citiesSaitama, Tatebayashi, Utsunomiya, Kōriyama, Fukushima, Sendai, Morioka, Kazuno, Hirosaki
Highway system
National highways of Japan
Expressways of Japan

It is owned by Japan Expressway Holding and Debt Repayment Agency [ja] and operated by East Nippon Expressway Company. The expressway is signed E4 under the "2016 Proposal for Realization of Expressway Numbering", because it roughly parallels National Route 4.[3]

Route descriptionEdit

The Tōhoku Expressway at Hanamaki Junction in Hanamaki, Iwate.

The expressway links the Tōhoku region with the Kantō region and the greater Tokyo urban area. It is also the longest expressway among all expressways operated by East Nippon Expressway Company.[2]

Starting at a junction with the Tokyo Gaikan Expressway to the north of Tokyo, the expressway follows a northerly course through the plains of Saitama Prefecture and Tochigi Prefecture before entering the mountainous interior of the Tōhoku region. Passing through central Fukushima Prefecture, the expressway then enters Miyagi Prefecture and passes to the west of Sendai, the largest city in the Tōhoku region. The expressway continues north into Iwate Prefecture, passing the prefectural capital Morioka. In the northern part of Iwate, the expressway veers to the northwest, while the Hachinohe Expressway branches off to the northeast. The Tōhoku Expressway continues into central Aomori Prefecture. Before terminating in the city of Aomori,the Aomori Expressway begins, continuing east as an extension of the expressway towards Hachinohe by a series of toll roads and expressways.[4]

The route parallels the Tōhoku Shinkansen and Tōhoku Main Line of East Japan Railway Company as well as National Route 4 from its origin in Tokyo to the city of Morioka. North of Morioka, the route diverges to the northwest and parallels the Ōu Main Line and National Route 7. It follows this path winding through the Ōu Mountains to its northern terminus in Aomori at National Route 7 about a kilometer south of the Tōhoku Shinkansen's northern terminus at Shin-Aomori Station.

The expressway is 6 lanes from Kawaguchi Junction [ja] to Utsunomiya Interchange, and 4 lanes from Utsunomiya to the terminus in Aomori.

The standard rate for travelling the entirety of the Tōhoku Expressway in a normal-sized car from Kawaguchi Junction to Aomori Interchange is 13,800 yen, in a kei car the cost is 11,100 yen.[5]


Tōhoku refers to the Tōhoku region, the northernmost region on the island of Honshū.

Officially the expressway is designated as the Tōhoku Jūkan Expressway Hirosaki Route. It is also concurrent with the Tōhoku Jūkan Expressway Hachinohe Route until Ashiro Junction [ja], where it diverges from the Tōhoku Expressway to become the Hachinohe Expressway. [6]


Initial constructionEdit

The first section of the Tōhoku Expressway opened on 13 November 1972 between Kanuma and Utsunomiya interchanges. The next year saw the opening of three sections of the highway: first, an extension north from Utsunomiya Interchange to Yaita Interchange on 9 August, next another section between Shirakawa and Koriyama interchanges opened on 26 November followed by a section opening the next day between Shiroishi and Sendai-minami interchanges. In 1974, only one section between Yaita and Shirakawa interchanges was opened along the expressway on 20 December, this connected the southern section and central sections. 1975 saw the completion of two more sections of the expressway: one between Koriyama and Shiroishi interchanges on 1 April (linking the extant southern and northern sections), and then another on 28 November between Sendai-minami and Izumi interchanges. In 1976, only one section between Izumi and Furukawa interchanges was opened along the expressway on 9 December, extending the expressway further north. 1977 saw the completion of another two sections of the expressway: one between Furukawa and Tsukidate interchanges on 15 November, and then a separate section on 19 November between Ichinoseki and Morioka-minami interchanges. On 2 December 1978, that separate section was linked to the rest of the expressway. The next year saw the opening of two sections of the highway: first, the northernmost section of what would be the completed expressway between Ōwani-Hirosaki and Aomori interchanges on 27 September, next another section extending the expressway north from Morioka-minami Interchange to Takizawa was opened on 18 October. Also, Shiwa Interchange was inserted into the existing expressway on 13 October. 1980 would see the opening of three more sections of the expressway: the first of these extended the expressway south from Iwatsuki Interchange to Urawa Interchange on 26 March, the second extended the main section of the expressway north from Takizawa Interchange to Nishine Interchangeon 8 October, the third extended the northern section of the expressway south to Ikarigaseki Interchange on 29 October. On 4 August 1981, Motomiya Interchange was added to the extant expressway. In 1982, Wakayanagi-Kannari Interchange was added to the extant expressway on 29 March and a new section of the expressway opened on 29 October, extending the main section of the expressway north to Ashiro Interchange. The main section was extended north again on 20 October 1983 to Kazuno-Hachimantai Interchange. In 1984, it was extended north to Towada Interchange on 27 September. Koriyama-minami Interchange was added on 6 November. Hanamaki-minami Interchange was added to the extant expressway on 24 July 1986. Later, on 30 July the completion of the 4.27-kilometer (2.65 mi)-long Sakanashi Tunnel allowed for the separate northern section of the expressway to be linked to the rest of the expressway. The expressway was completed on 9 September 1987 when it was extended south to its southern terminus at Kawaguchi Junction.[7]

Additional work after completionEdit

In October 2004, an experiment was conducted to test the viability of smart interchanges was conducted on the Fukushima-Matsukawa Smart Interchange, which was installed onto the pre-existing Fukushima-Matsukawa Parking Area in the city of Fukushima. After the experimental smart interchange was deemed successful, the Fukushima-Matsukawa Smart Interchange as well as sixteen others around the country were officially opened to traffic across the country in October 2006.[8] Many sections of the expressway were damaged on 11 March 2011 during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The expressway reopened on 24 March 2011.[9]

List of interchanges and featuresEdit

PA - parking area, SA - service area, TB - toll gate

SaitamaKawaguchi0.00.01Kawaguchi    Tokyo Gaikan Expressway / Kawaguchi RouteSouthern terminus; C3 exit 70; expressway continues as S1
2Urawa  National Route 122
  National Route 463 (Koshigaya Urawa Bypass)
Southbound exit, northbound entrance only to National Route 463; full access to and from National Route 122
Iwatsuki-ku10.56.53Iwatsuki  National Route 16 (Iwatsuki Kasukabe Bypass)
3-1 / SAHasudaSaitama Prefecture Route 163 (Hasuda-Shiraoka-Kuki Route)Smart interchange; southbound entrance, northbound exit only
Kuki24.115.03-2Kuki-Shiraoka  Ken-Ō ExpresswayC4 exit 70
25.515.84KukiSaitama Prefecture Route 3 (Saitama Kurihashi Route)
Kazo33.420.85Kazo  National Route 125
Hanyū39.424.55-1HanyūSaitama Prefecture Route 84 (Hanyū Kurihashi Route)
SaitamaGunma prefecture border43.2
Tonegawa Bridge over the Tone River
GunmaTatebayashi46.028.66Tatebayashi  National Route 354
GunmaTochigi prefecture border51.5
Watarasegawa Bridge over the Watarase River
TochigiSano55.034.27Sano-Fujioka  National Route 50Interchange lies partially in Tochigi
58.036.07-1 / SASanoTochigi Prefecture Route 352 (Sano Smart Interchange Route)Smart interchange; service area is open to all traffic
Tochigi61.838.47-2Iwafune  Kita-Kantō Expressway westSouthern terminus of concurrency with E50
72.745.28TochigiTochigi Prefecture Route 32 (Tochigi Kashiwao Route)
75.446.98-1Tochigi-Tsuga  Kita-Kantō Expressway eastNorthern terminus of concurrency with E50
79.349.38-2 / PATsuganishikataTochigi Prefecture Route 352 (Sano Smart Interchange Route)Smart interchange to open in 2020; parking area is open to all traffic
Tochigi–Kanuma border82.6–
Omoigawa Bridge over the Omoi River
Kanuma91.556.99Kanuma  National Route 121
Utsunomiya97.560.69-1ŌyaTochigi Prefecture Route 70 (Utsunomiya-Imaichi Route)Future smart interchange scheduled to open in 2020
103.064.010Utsunomiya  Nikkō Utsunomiya Road west
  National Route 119
110.968.910-1 / SAKamikawachiTochigi Prefecture Route 348 (Kamikawachi Smart Interchange Route)Smart interchange; service area is open to all traffic
Yaita120.274.711Yaita  National Route 4 (Ujiie Yaita Bypass) / Tochigi Prefecture Route 30 (Yaita Nasu Route)
127.579.211-1 / PAYaita-kitaFuture smart interchange scheduled to open in 2020; service area is open to all traffic
Hōkigawa Bridge over the Hōki River
139.186.412Nishinasuno-Shiobara  National Route 400
145.490.312-1 / PAKuroisoTochigi Prefecture Route 53 (Ōtawara Takabayashi Route)
Nasushiobara–Nasu border151.8–
Nakagawa Bridge over the Naka River
Nasu152.294.613NasuTochigi Prefecture Route 17 (Nasukōgen Route)
160.599.713-1 / SANasukōgenTochigi Prefecture Route 349 (Nasukōgen Smart Interchange Route)Smart interchange; southbound entrance, northbound exit only
FukushimaNishigō169.7105.414Shirakawa  National Route 4
Abukumagawa Bridge over the Abukuma River
Shirakawa176.1109.414-1Shirakawa-chūō  National Route 294Smart interchange
Yabuki186.3115.815Yabuki  Abukuma Kōgen Road east
  National Route 4
193.9120.515-1 / PAKagamiishiFukushima Prefecture Route 289 (Shimomatsumoto-Kagamiishi Route)Smart interchange is open from 6:00-22:00; service area is open to all traffic
Sukagawa198.2123.216SukagawaFukushima Prefecture Route 67 (Nakano Sukagawa Route)
207.7129.117Kōriyama-minamiFukushima Prefecture Route 47 (Kōriyama-Naganuma Route)
211.8131.617-1Kōriyama-chūōFukushima Prefecture Route 55 (Kōriyama-Yubiki Route)Smart interchange
216.4134.518Kōriyama  National Route 49
220.2136.818-1Kōriyama  Ban-etsu Expressway
Motomiya223.1138.619Motomiya  National Route 4
Nihonmatsu236.0146.620Nihonmatsu  National Route 459 / Fukushima Prefecture Route 355 (Sukagawa Nihonmatsu Route)
Fukushima244.7152.020-1 / PAFukushima-MatsukawaFukushima Prefecture Route 52 (Tsuchiyu Onsen Route)Smart interchange; service area is open to all traffic
Fukushima Tunnel
254.9158.421Fukushima-nishi  National Route 115 (Fukushima-nishi Bypass)
Arakawa Bridge over the Arakawa River
261.7162.621-1Fukushima  Tōhoku-Chūō Expressway northSouthern terminus of E13 concurrency
264.9164.621Fukushima-Iizaka  National Route 13
Koori269.4167.422-1Koori  Tōhoku-Chūō Expressway southNorthern terminus of E13 concurrency
Kunimi276.0171.523KunimiFukushima Prefecture Route 46 (Shiroishi-Kunimi Route)
MiyagiShiroishi299.5186.124Shiroishi  National Route 4 (Shiroishi Bypass)
Murata311.8193.725MurataMiyagi Prefecture Route 14 (Watari Ōgawara Kawasaki Route)
314.5195.426Murata  Yamagata Expressway westSouthern terminus of E48 concurrency
319.6198.626-1 / PASugōSmart interchange to open in 2020; parking area is open to all traffic
Taihaku-ku, Sendai326.8203.127Sendai-minami  Sendai-Nanbu Road east
  National Route 286
Northern terminus of E48 concurrency
Aoba-ku, Sendai332.4206.528Sendai-Miyagi  National Route 48 (Ayashi Bypass / Sendai Nishi Road)
Hirosegawa Bridge over the Hirose River
Izumi-ku, Sendai342.6212.928-1 / PAIzumiMiyagi Prefecture Route 35 (Izumi-Shiogama Route)Smart interchange; parking area is open to all traffic
346.1215.129Izumi  National Route 4
Tomiya349.3217.029-1Tomiya  Sendai-Hokubu RoadNo exit to westbound E6, no entrance from eastbound E6
357.1221.930TaiwaMiyagi Prefecture Route 3 (Shiogama-Yoshioka Route)
Ōhira360.3223.930-1ŌhiraMiyagi Prefecture Route 3 (Ōhira-Ochiai Route)
Ōsaki366.8227.930-2 / PASanbongi  National Route 4 (Sanbongi Bypass)Smart interchange; parking area is open to all traffic
Narusegawa Bridge over National Route 4 and the Naruse River
375.1233.131Furukawa  National Route 47
381.0236.731-1 / SAChōjaharaMiyagi Prefecture Route 266 (Kejonuma Park Route)Smart interchange; service area is open to all traffic, a dog run is available for users of the expressway
Kurihara391.2243.132Tsukidate  National Route 4
32-1Kurihara  Miyagi-Kenpoku RoadPlanned interchange[10]
403.0250.433Wakayanagi-KannariMiyagi Prefecture Route 4 (Nakada-Kurikoma Route)
IwateIchinoseki420.3261.234Ichinoseki  National Route 342
Ichinoseki Tunnel
424.4263.7PAChūsonjiSouthbound access only
424.6263.834-1HiraizumiFuture smart interchange
Hiraizumi425.5264.4PAChūsonjiNorthbound access only
Hiraizumi Tunnel
431.8268.335Hiraizumi-Maesawa  National Route 4
442.7275.135-1ŌshūIwate Prefecture Route 236 (Koromogawa-Mizusawa Route)Smart interchange
449.3279.236Mizusawa  National Route 4 (Kanegasaki Bypass)
Kitakami458.0284.636-1 / PAKitakami-KanegasakiIwate Prefecture Route 50 (Kitakami-Kanegasaki Inter Route)
461.8286.937Kitakami  Akita Expressway northSouthern terminus of E46 concurrency
464.7288.838Kitakami-Ezuriko  National Route 107
Hanamaki472.6293.7PAHanamakiPlanned smart interchange
474.5294.838-1Hanamaki-minamiIwate Prefecture Route 12 (Hanamaki-Ōmagari Route)
478.6297.438-2Hanamaki  Kamaishi Expressway eastNorthern terminus of E46 concurrency
481.3299.139HanamakiIwate Prefecture Route 37 (Hanamaki Koromogawa Route)
Shiwa489.2304.0SAShiwaIwate Prefecture Route 50 (Kitakami-Kanegasaki Inter Route)
494.1307.039ShiwaIwate Prefecture Route 46 (Shiwa Inter Route)
Yahaba501.3311.540-1 / PAYahabaIwate Prefecture Route 120 (Fudō-Morioka Route)
Morioka505.1313.941Morioka-minamiIwate Prefecture Route 36 (Kamiyonai-Yuzawa Route)
Shizukuishigawa Bridge over the Shizukuishi River
512.1318.242Morioka  National Route 46
Takizawa516.1320.742-1Takizawa-chūōSmart interchange
522.1324.443Takizawa   National Route 4 / National Route 281 (unsigned)
Hachimantai532.2330.744Nishine  National Route 282
537.3333.9SAIwatesanLast gas station travelling northbound on the expressway
541.7336.645Matsuo-HachimantaiIwate Prefecture Route 45 (Kashiwadai-Matsuo Route)
Ryūgamori Tunnel
563.3350.046Ashiro  Hachinohe Expressway north
564.6350.847Ashiro  National Route 282
Tayama Tunnel
590.7367.048Kazuno-Hachimantai  National Route 282
602.6374.449Towada    National Route 103 / National Route 104 (unsigned) / National Route 285 (unsigned)
Kamedayama Tunnel
610.7379.549-1KosakaAkita Prefecture Route 2 (Ōdate-Lake Towada Route)
617.0383.449-2Kosaka  Akita Expressway south
AkitaAomori prefecture border620.1
Sakanashi Tunnel
AomoriHirakawa630.7391.950Ikarigaseki  National Route 7
643.7400.051Ōwani-Hirosaki  National Route 7
Kuroishi653.6406.152Kuroishi   National Route 102 / National Route 394
Aomori667.6414.853Namioka  Tsugaru Expressway west
  National Route 7
Aomori Prefecture Route 285 (Namioka-Fujisaki Route)
54 / TBAomori  Aomori Expressway east
  National Route 7 (Aomori Belt Highway)
Northern terminus; no access between E4A and National Route 7
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ "Expressway Opening Dates". Retrieved 16 April 2008.
  2. ^ a b "E-NEXCO Expressway Data". Retrieved 13 April 2008.
  3. ^ "Japan's Expressway Numbering System". www.mlit.go.jp. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  4. ^ 第四次全国総合開発計画 [Fourth National Comprehensive Development Plan] (PDF). www.mlit.go.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved 9 March 2018.
  5. ^ 東北道・北関東道・圏央道料金表 (pdf). E-NEXCO (in Japanese). March 2017. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  6. ^ Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. "High Standard Trunk Road Map" (PDF). Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "高速道路開通の歴史" (in Japanese). Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  8. ^ "スマートIC 低コストで地域振興に貢献" [Smart interchanges contribute to regional economy with low costs]. Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 10 December 2015. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  9. ^ NHK World, "Tohoku Expressway Reopened To All Traffic", 24 March 2011.
  10. ^ "(仮称) 栗原インターチェンジの連結許可について" (PDF) (in Japanese). 15 August 2018. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2019.

External linksEdit

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata