Access to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto. Limited Express Thuderbird

683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region, such as Thunderbird and Shirasagi.
683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region, such as Thunderbird and Shirasagi.

Thunderbird is operated between Osaka (大阪) and Wakura-Onsen (和倉温泉), Kanazawa (金沢). This train is the fastest transfer from Osaka/Kyoto to Kanazawa. This train is very popular for both business and leisure travellers. Because there are several popular location along this trains’s route, like Awara-Onsen (芦原温泉) hot springs, Kaga-Onsen (加賀温泉) hot spring, Kanazawa and Wakura-Onsen hot spring. If you go to Kanazawa from Osaka, simply take this express train.

This train used to run to Toyama via Kanazawa. But on March 14, 2015, Hokuriku Shinkansen was opened and it connects Tokyo, Nagano, Toyama and Kanazawa directly. Now you have to transfer from Limited Express Thunderbird to Hokuriku Shinkansen when you go to Toyama from Osaka or Kyoto.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.

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

Route, schedule and time required

Thunderbird runs 22 round trips a day. It takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to Kanazawa from Osaka. Some of Thunderbird are extended to operate to Wakura-Onsen. It takes about 4 hours from Osaka to Wakura-Onsen.

*You can find it at the bottom of JR West website.


View Limited Express Thunderbird in a larger map

Stations

Most of Thunderbird stop
Station to Kanazawa/Wakura-Onsen Remarks
Osaka (大阪) x
Shin-Osaka (新大阪) x Connect to Shinkansen
Kyoto (京都) x Connect to Shinkansen
Katada (堅田) * Some of Thunderbird stop
Oumi-Imazu (近江今津) * Some of Thunderbird stop
Tsuruga (敦賀) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Takefu (武生) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Sabae (鯖江) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Fukui (福井) x
Awara-Onsen (芦原温泉) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Kaga-Onsen (加賀温泉) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Komatsu (小松) *
Matto (松任) * Some of Thunderbird stop
Kanazawa (金沢) x
Hakui (羽咋) x
Nanao (七尾) x
Wakura-Onsen (和倉温泉) x

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop

Accommodation

Thunderbird is serviced by 681 or 683 series. 681 is older than 683. But basically it is no difference.

The seat pitch in Green seat is 1160mm. It is the standard of most JR trains. The seat configuration is 2+1. It has spacious and nice holding. It is quite good seat. The seat pitch in Ordinary seat is 970mm. It is a little bigger than the standard. Car#3 is only for women. Some of JR train give this kind of service for women travellers.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.

Train formation

Thunderbird train formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
G R R R NR NR NR R R

*G=Green seat R=Reserved seat NR=Non reserved seat
Smoking is not allowed on these trains.

Images – 681/683 series

Green seat
681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird

Ordinary seat
681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird

Sanitary space
681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird

208 thoughts on “Access to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto. Limited Express Thuderbird”

  1. Hi Takeshi San,

    I have plan go to Japan on 30 Dec – 7 Jan 2017 (Total 9 days) with following itinerary :
    30 Dec : Namba Area (Den Den Town, Kuromon, Dontoburi, etc.)
    31 Dec : Takayama + Shirakawago
    1 Jan : Kanazawa
    2 -3 Jan : Kyoto Area
    4 Jan : Osaka (Osaka Castle, Tempozan, Umeda)
    5 Jan : Kobe Area
    6 Jan : Nara
    7 Jan : Early Flight to Jakarta

    Kindly advise regarding above itinerary, and which one better for transportation :

    Alternative 1.
    For 1st 7 Days Using JR Pass West Area + 1 Day Pass Osaka + JR to KIX Airport

    or

    Alternative 2.
    For 1st 5 Days Using Takayama Horiku Area + 1 Day Pass Osaka + 3 Days Kansai Thru Pass

    Thank you in advice for your help and advice..

    Best Regards,

    Rike

    1. Hi Rike san,

      Option 2 is better idea. Takayama Hokuriku area pass gives you the ride for the bus to Shirakawago. Kansai thru pass gives you much better coverage than Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi there,

    Here is my itinerary :
    17-20 Dec Osaka
    20-22 Dec (Kyoto) – 21 Dec will be day trip from Kyoto-Shirakawago
    22-26 Dec Tokyo

    Where can I get the train schedule departing from Kyoto stn to Kanazawa Stn?

    And which pass suit me best for the whole itinerary? Is it JR Pass?

    Thank you

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