Sample itinerary of day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Osaka or Kyoto

Kanazawa castle is one of the best places to see cherry blossom. (C) JNTO
Kanazawa castle is one of the best places to see cherry blossom. (C) JNTO

I prefer to stay in many cities and feel different atmosphere. But I know that some of you do not agree. Because you will travel with huge luggage and it may be issue for you.

Thus day trip is a prefect solution. When you stay in Kansai area, there are many places to see, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji, Mt. Koya and many more places. But can you believe that you can visit Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Osaka or Kyoto in one day?

I would like to show you the sample itinerary of this day trip in this post.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

From Osaka/Kyoto to Kanazawa

Limited Express Thunderbird is the primary way to get Kanazawa from Osaka.
Limited Express Thunderbird is the primary way to get Kanazawa from Osaka.

Osaka 7:10 / Shin-Osaka 7:14 / Kyoto 7:38 – (Limited Express Thunderbird 1) – Kanazawa 9:46

I recommend you to see Kanazawa first. Because the next bus leave for Shirakawago at 10:50.

Nohi Bus timetable (Kanazawa – Shirakawago)

You cannot do anything in Kanazawa for one hour. You can spend whole morning in Kanazawa and take a bus to Shirakawago after lunch time.

Return trip to Shirakawago

Gasshozukuri housing is the landmark of Shirakawago. (C) Akira Okada/ (C) JNTO
Gasshozukuri housing is the landmark of Shirakawago. (C) Akira Okada/ (C) JNTO

Kanazawa 13:15 – (Nohi Bus) – Shirakawago 14:30
Shirakawago 17:30 – (Nohi Bus) – Kanazawa 18:45

As you see Nohi Bus timetable, 17:30 is the last bus to go back to Kanazawa. You have three hours in Shirakawago. The next bus to Shirakawago after 13:15 is 14:40 departure from Kanazawa and arrival Shirakawago at 16:05. I think this is too late to arrive Shirakawago. You have less than 1.5 hour. It is too short to see Shirakawago.

Go back to Osaka or Kyoto from Kanazawa

Kanazawa station was renovated before Hokuriku Shinkansen opened.
Kanazawa station was renovated before Hokuriku Shinkansen opened.

There are two runs of Limited Express Thunderbird from Kanazwa to Osaka, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka.

Kanazawa 19:43 – (Limited Express Thunderbird 44) – Kyoto 22:02 / Shin-Osaka 22:25 / Osaka 22:50
Kanazawa 20:35 – (Limited Express Thunderbird 46) – Kyoto 22:44 / Shin-Osaka 23:07 / Osaka 23:12

So if you want to eat dinner in the restaurant, you can take the last Thunderbird. You will have two hours. There are many restaurants in Kanazawa station building.

If you want to go back to Osaka or Kyoto as soon as possible, take earlier departure at 19:43. You can grab some foods at Kanazawa station and eat on board. On board sales is not available on Limited Express Thunderbird. Don’t forget to grab it before getting on Thunderbird.

Suggested deal

Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is most recommended. Even if you use this pass just for this day trip, it is paid off. This pass covers all part of your trip.

If you have Japan Rail Pass, you can use the pass to get Kanazawa by Limited Express Thuderbird. But Nohi Bus to Shirakawago is not covered by JR pass. The extra fare is 3,290 yen for return.

Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass. Perfect deal to get Takayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Shirakawago from Nagoya to Osaka

Other rail passes in Kansai area, like Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Thru Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass are not recommended for this itinerary. Those do not cover most part of this itinerary.

Don’t forget to check the timetable before you go

The above sample itinerary is built by timetable of August 2015. When you use this sample itinerary, please check the updated timetable.

Hyperdia (check the train timetable)
Nohi bus (check the bus timetable)

96 thoughts on “Sample itinerary of day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Osaka or Kyoto”

  1. Hi,
    First of all, I would like to say thank you for providing very helpful information regarding Japan transportation. I will be in Japan May 2017, mostly travel in Kansai region. I’m planning to purchase icoca & haruka pass and Takayama & Hokuriku pass. I would love to hear your opinion on this. Thank you
    May 13: KIX- Kyoto
    May 14: Kyoto
    May 15: Kyoto
    May 16: Kyoto – Nara
    May 17: Kyoto – Uji
    May 18: Kyoto -Kanazawa
    May 19: Kanazawa – Shirakawago
    May 20: Shirakawago – Takayama – Gero
    May 21: Gero – Osaka
    May 22: Osaka
    May 23: Osaka – Kansai airport

    1. Hi Jenny,

      When you purchase ICOCA and Haruka, you can purchase Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. It’s same type of card as ICOCA but this card offers discount at many attractions.

      You can use Kansai one pass to take trains and buses in Kyoto. But I recommend you to add all day bus pass at 500 yen for one day.

      You can get the worth by only 3 rides of bus. You can save your fund in Kansai one pass for other trips, like Nara, Uji. You can use Kansai one pass in Kyoto when you need to take trains. When you take bus, you can use bus pass. It’s more efficient.

      Takayama Hokuriku area pass is a good choice. But when you go back to Osaka from Gero, you may need to pay extra. Because the shortest route from Gero to Osaka is Gero-Nagoya (or Gifu)-Osaka. But this pass does not cover Nagoya-Kyoto segment. If you take the route Gero-Toyama-Kanazawa-Osaka, it’s covered fully but it’s a big detour.

      The most common route from Gero to Osaka is taking Wide View Hida to Nagoya and Shinkansen from Nagoya to Shin-Osaka. In this case, you have to pay at lease 4300 yen which is discount deal, Platt Kodama. Please see the link below to find the details about Platt Kodama.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    I have question regarding to the day trip for Kanazawa and Shirakawa-go. Just wondering if we could reserve bus seats online beforehand. and how and where to ride the bus from the kanazawa station.


  3. Hi Takeshi,
    I will be arriving in Narita Airport by 16.00, following is my itinerary. Please take a look and let me know whether it’s feasible or not. Hope to hear from you soon.

    DAY 8 – TOKYO


    1. Hi Ricco,

      Your plan is busy but no problem to do it. It’s feasible.
      I recommend you to use JR Pass for the last 7 days of your trip.

      You can use other deals for the first 2 days. There are lots of deals that includes airport access and subway unlimited ride ticket. Please see the link below:

      Some places cannot be accessed by JR pass and other places cannot be by subway, such as Ghibli. So you may visit the places by subway on day 2 and Ghibli is good to visit on day 8 because you use JR pass. Please see the link below:


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi, Mr Takeshi

    I will be travelling to Osaka with my daughter on 12/1/17. Will be in Osaka until 16/1/17. We would like to visit Shirakawago. Is it possible to make a day trip? Please advise what pass should we buy? Can we buy the tickets online? Pls give us an itinerary.

    1. Hi Gladys,

      You can do it as you read the post above. You can use same itinerary.
      Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is the best choice. This pass is valid for 5 days but it’s still cheaper than regular fare. It’s useful for even day trip.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I’m planning to visit Japan on April 17 – 26 2017
    D1 : Reached Osaka in the evening stay in Osaka
    D2 : City tour in Osaka stay in Osaka
    D3 : Osaka – Takayama stay in Takayama
    D4 : Takayama – Shirakawago – Tokyo stay in Tokyo
    D4 : Tokyo – Kawaguchi – Mt Fuji – Gotemba – Tokyo stay in Tokyo
    D5 : Disney Sea stay in Tokyo
    D6 : Free
    D7 : Free
    D8 : Free
    D9 : going back home in early morning

    Could you please give some advise regarding my itinerary since I’m travelling with 7 adult and 3 kids 6y and 2 2y

    should I buy JR Pass ?
    Do you have 1D tour for Osaka / Tokyo / other place or please share if you have alternative place to go

    Thank you and regards

    1. Hi Andreas,

      JR pass does not work for Kansai airpot-Osaka-Takayama-Tokyo. It costs less than 25000 yen even if you pay single fare. JR pass is not recommended for Fuji-Gotemba trip. Express bus is better way.

      So if you have one more other long trip on day 6 or 7, such as trip to Nikko, JR Pass will work. You can use JR trains in Tokyo and Osaka. But single fare is quite affordable. It does not help to use JR pass. You need to have a long distance trip on day 6 or 7.

      If you don’t use JR pass, Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass may be considerable. It covers Takayama and Shirakawago from Osaka. But you have to go through Nagoya. You cannot take the route of Osaka-Nagoya/Gifu-Takayama.

      If you use this pass, you can get Nagoya after Takayama. And you need to pay single fare for Nagoya-Tokyo. Total cost is around 25000 yen but it includes bus to Shirakawago. This is the cheapest option.

      If you want to get Takayama from Osaka easier, you need to use single fare ticket. Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is not your choice.

      For Fuji and Gotemba, you can get there buy express bus and local bus. Please see the links below:


      Takeshi /

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