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Access to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto. Limited Express Thuderbird


Limited Express "Thunderbird"

Limited Express Thunderbird

Thunderbird is operated between Osaka (大阪) and Wakura-Onsen (和倉温泉), Kanazawa (金沢), Toyama (富山) and Uozu (魚津). This train is the fastest transfer from Osaka/Kyoto to Hokuriku region, such as Kanazawa and Toyama. 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 is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.


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Route, schedule and time required

Thunderbird runs 22 round trips a day. It takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to Kanazawa, 3 hours 20 minutes to Toyama 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

Station to Kanazawa/
Toyama/Uozu
to
Wakura-Onsen
Remarks
Osaka (大阪) x x
Shin-Osaka (新大阪) x x Connect to Shinkansen
Kyoto (京都) x 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 x
Awara-Onsen (芦原温泉) * * Most of Thunderbird stop
Kaga-Onsen (加賀温泉) * * Most of Thunderbird stop
Komatsu (小松) * * Most of Thunderbird stop
Matto (松任) * * Some of Thunderbird to Kanazawa/Wakura-Onsen stop
Kanazawa (金沢) x x
Isurugi (石動) * - Some of Thunderbird stop
Takaoka (高岡) x -
Kosugi (小杉) * - Some of Thunderbird stop
Toyama (富山) x -
Uotsu (魚津) x -
Tsubata (津幡) - * Some of Thunderbird to Osaka stop
Unoke (宇野気) - *
Takamatsu (高松) - *
Hakui (羽咋) - x
Yoshikawa (良川) - *
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 WR R NR NR NR R R

*G=Green seat R=Reserved seat WR=Reserved seat for women only 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


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59 Comments to “Access to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto. Limited Express Thuderbird”

  1. Chean says:

    Hi, I am traveling from KIX to kagaonsen then kanazawa (on a separate day), followed by nagoya before coming back to kyoto and osaka within 2 weeks. Should I go for ICOCA-hakura pass for KIX-kagaonsen?

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Chean,

      Yes. ICOCA and Haruka covers your trip to Kyoto from KIX. After Kyoto, you have to add single ticket. But this is only your option.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  2. Mui Siew says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I would like to travel from Kansai airport to Kanazawa.
    Is it better to purchase single ticket or should I go for JR kansai area pass or ICOCO & HARUKA?

    As after Kanazawa, I’ll be going from Kanazawa to Kyoto for few days, then Kyoto to Osaka, staying in Osaka for few nights.

    Thanks,
    Mui Siew

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Mui Siew,

      ICOCA and Haruka is the best choice. Especially if you complete your trip from/to KIX in 14 days, round trip ICOCA and Haruka gives you superb value.
      If you go to Kanazawa from KIX diretly, take Haruka to Kyoto. And then transfer to the train to Kanazawa at Kyoto. When you purchase ICOCA and Haruka at KIX, you can purchase round trip ticket between Kyoto and Kanazawa.

      ICOCA cannot be used for the trip to Kanazawa. But when you come back Kyoto and Osaka, you will have many chance to use it.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Mui Siew says:

        Okay got it, thanks Takeshi!

        As I’ll be staying in Namba, so when I need to go to KIX, I should take a subway to Tennoji and then only transfer to Haruka with the return pass that I bought, correct?

        Regards,
        Mui Siew

  3. Joyce says:

    Hi,
    I want to travel to Kanazawa from Kyoto, and from Kanazawa to Nagano, then to Tokyo.
    I am planning to take thunderbird to Kanazawa, then use hakutaka+JR shinetsu to nagano. I am a bit confused with the JR passes. Does the JR west pass cover the thunderbird route? Also, which regional pass cover hakutaka and JR shinetsu?
    I know you said in the other article that hakutaka runs on non-JR rails between naoetsu and muikamachi, but if I’m only catching it from kanazawa to naoetsu then change to shinetsu line, do i still need to pay that extra?

    Thank you!

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Joyce,

      Only JR Pass covers all part of your trip. As you said, taking Hakutaka between Nagano and Naoetsu is covered by JR Pass.
      Any kind of JR West passes do not cover Kanazawa and Nagano. I don’t know how much you travel in Japan other than Kyoto-Kanazawa-Nagano. Single fare may be cheaper than JR Pass. If you tell me your detailed itinerary, I may give you some more suggestions.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Joyce says:

        Hi Takeshi,

        Thank you so much for the previous comment!
        I will be arriving in Kansai airport, staying in Osaka for 3 nights. On the first day of arrival, I will go to Kobe at night then head back to Osaka, 2nd day I will spend it at Osaka, 3rd day at Nara then back to Osaka. Then I am heading to Kyoto, then Kanazawa, then Nagano, then Tokyo, and leave from there.
        I have looked at the transport in Kansai area, which doesn’t cost too much and a west pass will probably not worth it, but the rest of the trip will cost a bit more, so I am not sure if it’s still worth getting the JR pass. Also in Tokyo, I will be using subways quite often, which isn’t cover by JR pass, so I assume the pass won’t be of much use in Tokyo either.

  4. Andy says:

    hi

    i am going from kyoto to toyama – omachi alpine rout & getting the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Ticket=http://english.jr-central.co.jp/tickets/value/tateyamakurobe/index.html

    it is really difficult to understand what they say here=

    [Departure from Kyoto City/ Osaka City (Round-trip Hokuriku Line)]
    Reserved seats for ordinary cars of the limited express train are available one time each for both to and back from the Alpine Route.
    * Reserved seats on ordinary cars for respective trains are available only when connecting to limited express trains at Kanazawa Station or Toyama Station.

    on hyperdia & on this current site now, i understand fastest way about 168mins is to take thunderbird from kyoto to toyama.

    all i need is -

    (1) confirm that thunderbird is hokuriku line so if i buy this round trip ticket 22580yen, i can use it for thunderbird?

    (2) can this ticket be purchase online before arrival in Japan & the link?

    brgds

    Andy

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Andy,

      1. Yes, you can.
      “One time” means you cannot take limited express train twice on the way to Toyama, like Kyoto-Fukui and Fukui-Toyama.

      2. No. As you saw this site, it’s available at only JR Central stations. Kyoto has JR Central’s ticket window. There are two ticket window, JR West’s and JR Central’s. JR Central’s sign is shown on orange color letters.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Andy says:

        hi Takeshi-san

        thank you so much for your reply. it is very helpful! :-)

        do you know if there is JR Central ticket window at Kansai KIA so i can buy the value ticket on arrival at airport? i know the JR office to buy to Haruka & Icoca return to kyoto & it would be ideal if I can also buy the value ticket at the same JR office.

        many thanks again.

        brgds

        Andy

        • JPRail says:

          Hi Andy,

          Unfortunately not.
          JR Central tickets window are located at only Shinkansen stations in Kansai area, such as Kyoto and Shin-Osaka.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Andy Quak says:

        hi Takeshi-san

        thank you for your attention & very helpful replies earlier. :-)

        we will be at unazuki 10oct, tateyama 11oct. murodo 12oct, matsummoto 13oct & kamikochi 14-16oct & return to kyoto & KIA 16oct.

        can you advise me/confirm if my understanding is correct?
        1 i can use the value ticket for alpine route from kyoto to uozu. then i have to pay for the trin ticket from uozu to unazuki’
        2. i have to pay for the train ticket from unazuki to tateyama
        3. i have unlimited use of value ticket from tateyama to omachi.
        4. i have to pay for ticket from omachi to matsumoto since value ticket does not allow me to stopover at matsumoto between omachi & kyoto. (of course i pay for return ticket from matsumoto to kamikochi).

        thank you very much & waiting your important reply. we fly to KIA on 9oct.

        not sure if this is within your area but in case you know like to enquire if luggage forwarding between tateyama to matsumoto or kamikochi is done at the hotel in tateyama or do we do it at the Tateyama train station? we will be staying at Matsumoto on 13oct & Kamikochi on 14-16Oct. is it better to forward to Matsumoto or to Kamikochi?

        brgds

        Andy Quak
        65-97882382

        • JPRail says:

          Hi Andy,

          In terms and conditions about this deal, there are so many things that do not say very clearly. So I’m not sure several points.

          1 i can use the value ticket for alpine route from kyoto to uozu. then i have to pay for the train ticket from uozu to unazuki’
          I don’t think this deal covers for Toyama-Uozu. In my understanding, you have to pay Toyama-Uozu by JR, Uozu-Unazuki/Unazuki-Terada by Toyama Chiho Railway.

          2. i have to pay for the train ticket from unazuki to tateyama
          This deals includes unlimited travel between Toyama and Tateyama, so you have to pay Unazuki to Terada.

          3. i have unlimited use of value ticket from tateyama to omachi.
          I think so, but I’m not 100% sure. It doesn’t say about it very clearly. Make sure when you purchase it.

          4. i have to pay for ticket from omachi to matsumoto since value ticket does not allow me to stopover at matsumoto between omachi & kyoto. (of course i pay for return ticket from matsumoto to kamikochi).
          In my opinion, stopover at Matsumot can be allowed. But I’m not sure again.

          Regarding luggage transfer, ask your hotel in Tateyama. Most of hotels have contract with shipping companies. Usually it takes 1 or 2 day to deliver to most of areas in Japan.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Clara says:

    Hi,

    I need to make a round trip from Osaka to Nanao, Nanao to Fukuoka, then from Fukuoka back to Osaka over about a week around new year. Would it be cheaper to buy single tickets, travel by air, or buy a JR pass? Would I have trouble getting seats on trains if I was to travel on new years eve?

    Thank you.

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Clara,

      If you finish you trip in 7 days, 7 days pass is cheaper than single fares.

      In this year end, December 28, 29 and 30 from Osaka will be busy. Because these days are Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Everybody want to go to hometown. Usually train from big cities to outside is busy. On the other hand, January 3, 4 and 5 will be busy as well to Osaka. Everybody go back to normal.

      If you travel December 31, January 1, 2 and 3, it will not be busy usually. So when you arrive in Japan, try to book the trains that you want to take ASAP.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

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