Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass user guide. Clarify valid trains, coverage area and compare single fare and pass.

Tokyo, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Osaka are covered by this deal. (C) ©Sue Ann Simon (upper left), Osaka Government Tourism Bureau (lower left), Yasufumi Nish (upper right), Kanazawa City (lower right) and JNTO (all photos)
Tokyo, Kanazawa, Kyoto and Osaka are covered by this deal. (C) ©Sue Ann Simon (upper left), Osaka Government Tourism Bureau (lower left), Yasufumi Nish (upper right), Kanazawa City (lower right) and JNTO (all photos)

This brand new pass will be released in April, 2016. This pass covers Narita airport, Tokyo, Nagano, Toyama, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe and Kansai airport. It does not cover Tokyo – Osaka/Kyoto via Nagoya direct route by Shinkansen. It is valid for consecutive 7 days. Valid period is same as Japan Rail Pass (a.k.a. JR Pass) 7 days. Price is cheaper than JR Pass 7 days but coverage area is much smaller. Is this a good deal and worth using for Tokyo-Kanazawa-Kyoto-Osaka trip?

In this post, I would like to show you the detail of this pass. And I show you some sample rate and compare the pass value and single fares. You may find this suits your plan or not.

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

Prices and valid period

Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass 7 days

Purchase outside Japan or online Purchase inside Japan
Adult 24,000 yen 25,000 yen
Child
(6-11 years old)
12,000 yen 12,500 yen

*Child who is 5 years old and younger is free but you have to share the seat with child. If you want to have a seat for child too, you have to purchase child pass for even younger than 5 years old.
*This pass will be available from April 1st, 2016. But I think this pass will be available online in advance at JR East official site and JR West official site.

This pass is valid for 7 days only. There is no Green pass choice.

One day means midnight to midnight, technically 0:00 to 23:59. Even if you start using the pass at 23:00. you will spend one full day for just one hour. So try to start in the morning. It does not make sense to start to use in the evening.

Coverage area

Coverage map of Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass (Click to view large)
Coverage map of Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass (Click to view large)

This pass covers the trip between Narita airport and Kansai airport via Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hokuriku area. This pass covers the following major spots in the area.

  • Tokyo
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Kanazawa
  • Toyama
  • Nagano
  • Karuizawa
  • Nara
  • Kobe

The following places are not located in the coverage area. You CANNOT use this pass to access these following places.

It seems to cover whole part of the trip between Tokyo side and Osaka side via Kanazawa and Toyama. But there are some restrictions. Please see next chapter about valid trains.

Valid trains and lines

The press release from JR East and JR West said the following JR trains are covered by this pass.

  • Narita Exress between Narita airport and Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro
    You cannot get Yokohama because it is outside coverage area.
  • Hokuriku Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kanazawa
  • Limited Express Thunderbird between Wakura Onsen, Kanazawa and Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Osaka
  • Limited Express Haruka between Kyoto, Shin-Osaka, Tennoji and Kansai airport
    But only non reserved seat is covered by this pass.
  • Local and Rapid train in downtown Tokyo area
  • Local, Rapid and Special Rapid train in Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe and Nara)
  • Etsumi-Hokusei line between Fukui and Kuzuryuko
  • Nanao line between Tsubata and Nanao
  • Himi line between Takaoka and Himi
  • Johana line between Takaoka and Johana
  • Takayama line between Toyama and Inotani
  • Oito line between Itoigawa and Minami-Otari

I have checked the press release several times. I could not find any other express trains in coverage trains list. But in my understanding, the following express and rapid trains are covered.

  • Rapid Airport Narita between Narita airport and Kinshicho, Tokyo, Shinagawa
  • Limited Express Shirasagi between Kanazawa and Maibara
  • Limited Express Wide View Hida between Toyama and Inotani
  • Limited Express Noto-Kagaribi between Kanazawa and Wakura-Onsen
  • Limited Express Hanayome-Noren between Kanazawa and Wakura-Onsen
  • Limited Express Dinastar between Kanazawa and Fukui

Rapid Airport Narita runs on exactly same route as Narita Express. And if you leave from Narita Express in early morning and late night, you may not be able to take Narita Express. In this case, this rapid train is your choice.

Rapid Airport Narita

The other trains are ordinary limited express trains and run in coverage area. I cannot find any reasons why those trains are not covered. In my opinion, you can take these trains by this pass. But even though Limited Express Shirasagi and Limited Express Wide View Hida are covered, you cannot get Nagoya by Shirasagi and cannot get Takayama by Wide View Hida either. These places are not in coverage area.

JR deals covers basically JR trains only. But Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku ArchPass covers some “NON JR” railway trains. The following railways are NON JR companies but those are covered by Tokyo Wide Pass.

  • Tokyo Monorail (Haneda-Airport – Hamamatsucho)
  • IR Ishikawa Railway between Kanazawa and Tsubata
  • Ainokaze-Toyama Railway between Toyama and Takaoka
  • Noto Railway between Nanao and Wakura-Onsen

If you arrive in or depart from Haneda airport, trip by Monorail is fully covered by this pass. But the JR ticket service desk is open from 7:45 to 18:30 only.
JR East Travel Service Center Haneda

You may not be able to exchange your pass at Haneda from early arrival and late departure.

You cannot make any stopover when you take IR Ishikawa Railway and Ainokaze-Toyama Railway. These coverage are connecting to Himi line, Johana line and Nanao line from Toyama and Kanazawa for your convenience.

Noto Railway is covered but it is only one station between Nanao and Wakura-Onsen. Many trains run from Kanazawa to Wakura-Onsen via IR Ishikawa Railway, JR Nanao line and Noto Railway. This is reason why this train is.

In Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, subway is not covered by this pass. You have to add single fare or city deal.

Compare many discount tickets and passes for sightseeing Tokyo. How to choose the right tickets?

Kyoto city sight seeing card (subway and bus pass), Kyoto all day bus pass

Osaka city subway deal

Compare single fare and Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass

When you think about purchasing this deal, you need to know this is paid off in your trip or not. I show you some sample.
*All rates are based on base fare and reserved seat limited express supplement in regular season.

Trip from Narita airport to Kansai airport with stopover at Tokyo, Kanazawa, Shin-Osaka

Actually if you purchase single fare ticket and limited express surcharge ticket for Narita Express (Narita airport to Tokyo), Hokuriku Shinkansen (Tokyo to Kanazawa), Limited Express Thunderbird (Kanazawa to Shin-Osaka) and Limited Express Haruka (Shin-Osaka to Kansai airport), total fare is around 23,000 yen. In this case, you have to purchase surcharge ticket for each segments. But you can use one base fare ticket and make stopovers. The ticket is valid for 6 days.

If you use the pass, you can use JR trains when you are in Tokyo and Osaka. So even though single fare and express surcharge combination is cheaper, pass will be cheaper and will be paid off. But this pass does not give you a big saving for this itinerary.

Trip between Kanazawa and Tokyo by Hokuriku Shinkansen

Total fares is 14,120 yen for one way. If you have round trip between Tokyo and Kanazawa, it is paid off.

Trip between Nagano and Tokyo by Shinkansen

Total fare is 8,200 yen for one way. You need to have some more trips if you want to use this pass.

Trip between Karuizawa and Tokyo by Shinkansen

Total fare is 5,910 yen for one way. This is not enough to use this pass by only this trip.

Trip between Kanazawa and Osaka/Shin-Osaka by Limited Express Thunderbird

Total fare is 7,650 yen for one way. If you will have round trip to Kanazawa from Osaka and do not visit Tokyo, Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass is better choice.
Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass. Perfect deal for the traveller who wants travel to Kansai, Kanazawa and Toyama.

You may think about using Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass if you intend to visit Shirakawago and Takayama too.
Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass. Perfect deal to get Takayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Shirakawago from Nagoya or Osaka

Trip between Narita Airport and Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku or Yokohama by Narita Express

Total fares are 3,020 yen for Tokyo, and 3,190 yen for Shinagawa or Shinjuku.

Trip between Haneda Airport and Hamamatsucho by Tokyo Monorail

Single fare is 490 yen for one way.

Trip between Kyoto and Osaka/Shin-Osaka by Special Rapid, Rapid or Local

Single fare is 560 yen for one way.

Trip between Kyoto and Nara by Rapid or Local

Single fare is 710 yen for one way.

Trip between Nara and Osaka/Shin-Osaka by Rapid or Local

Single fare is 800 yen for one way.

Trip between Sannomiya (Kobe) and Osaka/Shin-Osaka by Special Rapid, Rapid or Local

Single fare is 410 yen for one way.

Trip between Kyoto and Kansai airport by Limited Express Haruka

Single fare is 2,850 yen for one way. This fare is based on non reserved seat. Because this pass covers only non reserved seat on this train.

Trip between Shin-Osaka and Kansai airport by Limited Express Haruka

Single fare is 2,330 yen for one way. This fare is based on non reserved seat. Because this pass covers only non reserved seat on this train.

Fares in downtown Osaka and Kyoto

You can take any local trains, like Osaka Kanjo line (to Tennoji, Osakajo, JR-Namba), Yumesaki line (USJ), Sagano line (to Arashiyama) by this pass. Fares to take local trains within city is very affordable, such as a few hundred yen. You do not need to think about these costs when you compare the pass and single fare.

Fares in downtown Tokyo

You can take any local trains, like Yamanote line, Chuo line by this pass. But the fares in downtown Tokyo is quite reasonable. If you take a local train from Tokyo to Shinjuku, the fare is 200 yen. When you calculate the fares and compare this pass and single fare, you can ignore the fares in downtown Tokyo. It does not help to get worth very much.

Assessment

This deal suits the following plan.

  • Narita airport (or Haneda airport) – Tokyo – Kanazawa/Toyama – Tokyo – Narita airport (or Haneda airport)
  • Round trip between Tokyo and Kanazawa
  • Narita airport (or Haneda airport) – Tokyo – Kanazawa/Toyama – Osaka/Kyoto/Nara/Kobe – Kansai airport
  • Narita airport (or Haneda airport) – Tokyo – Kanazawa/Toyama – (Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route) – Nagano – Tokyo
    *Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and bus from Shinano-Omachi to Nagano are not covered by this pass.
  • Kansai airport – Osaka/Kyoto/Nara/Kobe – Kanazawa/Toyama – Nagano – Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe/Nara – Kansai airport

Honestly I am not very impressed by this deal because this pass price is not much different from one way transfer from Narita airport to Kansai airport via Hokuriku region. JR pass 7 days is only 29,100 yen and it covers throughout Japan. This pass is 24,000 yen and covers only Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and Hokuriku region. Honestly speaking, it is a bit overpriced. But this is the first pass to cover the trip to Kanazawa from Tokyo fully other than JR Pass. It is a good news for the travellers who are looking for the deal to Kanazawa from Tokyo. As you showed above, this deal can be used for visiting Kanazawa, Toyama, Alpine route and Nagano from Tokyo too.

But this pass does not cover other big names, like Fuji, Hakone, Nikko, Himeji, Takayama and Nagoya. You have to be careful when you plan your itinerary by this pass.

You might get bigger savings than that I showed above by this pass. It is cheaper than JR pass anyway. This pass may be considered for your trip.

I hope this post will help you to pick up the right deal for your trip!

186 thoughts on “Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass user guide. Clarify valid trains, coverage area and compare single fare and pass.”

  1. Hi,

    Im planning to go to Japan for 8 days in June. I and my family 4 people are travelling together.
    Day1. arrive at Narita Airport 8am in the morning – go to Osaka
    Day2. Kyoto
    Day3. Kyoto – back to Osaka around 5pm
    Day4. Osaka – Go to Tokyo around 2pm
    Day5. Tokyo
    Day6. Tokyo
    Day7. Mt Fuji – Morning to 6pm – Back to Tokyo
    Day8. Tokyo – Going to Narita Airport around 4pm.

    Firstly, Im thinking to catch the taxi to go around Osaka and Kyoto as we are 4 people. Do you think it might be cheaper?

    Secondly, JR 7 days pass might be suitable for us as we arrive Narita first then go to Osaka, Kyoto. After 4 days, back to Tokyo.
    However, when I plan to go Osaka Castle first then go to Shinsaibashi. JR pass do not cover from Osaka Castle to Shinsaibashi and Namba to Osaka.
    JR also do not cover Kyoto to Gion station (I have to buy Kyoto All Day Bus Pass).
    Then I found out Hokuriku Arch Pass which also cover Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto and Narita Airport.
    Also, for day 8, the JR pass is expire, we need to buy another ticket for day 8.

    Do you think Arch Pass is suitable for me or Do I have to buy Kansai Pass when Im in Tokyo?
    Are there any pass you recommend?

    Thank you for your help.

    Regards,
    Bonnie

    1. Hi Bonnie,

      I don’t think taxi is cheaper than bus/train. Traffic is heavy in Kyoto and Osaka. Trip time by taxi is sometimes longer than train. You can take taxi but you should use JR pass as long as it covers. When you need to take other transportation, you may thing about using taxi. Especially in Kyoto, some places cannot be accessed by train only, such as Kiyomizu-dera temple, Kinkaku-ji temple.

      I don’t recommend Hokuriku arch pass. It’s cheaper but it does not cover direct way between Osaka and Tokyo. If you use Hokuriku arch pass, you have to take train from Narita to Tokyo, Tokyo to Kanazawa and Kanazawa to Osaka. Trip time is 5.5 to 6 hours. It’s almost double of Tokyo-Osaka direct route which is covered by JR pass.

      As long as you are not interested in Kanazawa, this is not your choice.

      I think you need to add only bus pass in Kyoto if you don’t take taxi. JR pass is not perfect. But it covers many places too.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi, can I go from Haneda to Kanazawa using this pass? I checked in hyperdia that from Haneda, I take Keikyu Airport exp to transit in Shinagawa and then take JR Yamanote to Tokyo Station before I can get on to the Shinkansen Hakutaka.

    Is my whole journey covered by this pass?

  3. Next June, we are planning to go to Japan for about 12 days.
    Our arrival is in Osaka (KAnsai Airport) and we will be back from Tokyo (Haneda Airport). Our plan si to visit Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Takayama, Shirakawago, Tokyo and Kawaguchiko.
    Which one is better, buying JR Pass or Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku pass?
    We’re looking forward for your advice.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Caroline,

      JR pass is better because Hokuriku arch pass does not cover Takayama. But don’t buy 14 days pass. It’s too expensive to cover your trip. Actually even if you use 7 days pass, you cannot get a big saving. Please try to use it for Osaka – Takayama – Tokyo. If you reach Tokyo in 7 days, you can use 7 days pass for the first 7 days. You don’t need include Kawaguchiko. You can take express bus to get there.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html

      You can use subway pass in Tokyo and single fare is okay to get Haneda.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hello,

    We are also travelling during the Golden Week and I was hoping to get your opinion regarding our plan and whether you think we could use the Hokuriku Arch Pass for that.

    We arrive on April 28th around 7pm so day 1 will mostly be checking into a hotel in Tokyo. Was thinking to use a bus to get from Narita to Tokyo.
    Day 2 and 3-Spend in Tokyo
    Day 4- Activate the Hokuriku Arch Pass and travel to Nagano and spend one night there (is it worth spending the time there?)
    Day 5-Travel to Kyoto
    Day 6-Kyoto
    Day 7- Travel to Osaka
    Day 8-Osaka
    Day 9- travel back to Tokyo (exchange trains in Kanazawa-maybe spend a few hours there?)
    Day 10- Flight leaving from Narita early morning.

    Is it correct that if we purchase the pass online we can only book seats once we exchange the pass in Japan?

    Thank you very much for your help in advance,

    Anastasia

    1. Hi Anastasia,

      Your choice is Hokuriku Arch Pass (24,000 yen online) or JR pass 7 days (29,100 yen).
      JR Pass is more expensive but you can get Tokyo directly on day 7. As you think, you have to change trains at Kanazawa if you use Hokuriku arch pass. Trip time is 5.5 hours. On the other hand, if you use JR pass, you can get Tokyo directly and trip time is 3 hours.

      So extra 5,100 yen gives you 2.5 hours and no train changes. The choice is yours.

      Nagano is a nice city. But I recommend you Kanazawa more than Nagano. I recommend you to stay in Nagnao for a few hours and stay overnight in Kanazawa. If you use JR pass, you can visit both places on the way to Osaka on day 4 and 5.

      You can book a train for Tokyo-Nagano and/or Tokyo-Kanazawa segment on JR East reservation site:
      https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.4778995.1325107855.1421419524

      You should book as soon as possible because of Golden Week. It’s one of the busiest period in the year.

      For the first couple of days before using Hokuriku arch pass, you can use airport access + subway pass combo deal.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. On my first day arrival at Narita airport, i plan to go straight to Toyama using Hokuriku Arch Pass. In order to avoid transit fr Narita Express to Hokuriku Shinkansen at Tokyo Station, i wish to change train at Omiya. Does this pass cover Narita Express from Narita airport to Omiya?

    My full itinerary is

    Day 1 Narita to Toyama
    Day 2 Alpen Route using option ticket
    Day 3 Toyama back to Tokyo
    Day 4 Tokyo
    Day 5 Back home

    1. Hi HC,

      You can take Narita Express to Omiya by JR pass. But number of trip to Omiya by Narita Express is very few. And trip time is a bit longer than Natia -Tokyo-Toyama route. If you are okay with this, you can take Omiya route.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi,

    I’ll be travelling in Japan during the Golden week and will appreciate any advice I can get.

    Should I buy single trip tickets or the Hokuriku Arch Pass? My itinerary below:
    Day 1 – Tokyo (28Apr)
    Day 3 – Nagano
    Day 5 – Kyoto
    Day 8 to 10 – Tokyo

    Are seat reservations free of charge with the Arch Pass? What about for single trip ticket?

    Which website do I go to for the online seat reservation? Able to do this prior to arriving in Japan and collecting the pass?

    Any travel tips for taking trains during this period? I’ve read online that crowds can get really bad and it may be very difficult to get train tickets.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi EW,

      I recommend you to use JR Pass 7 days for day 3 to 9.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

      For other days, you can use airport access + subway pass deal.
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/airport_bus/index.html

      You may use Hokuriku Arch Pass but you cannot take direct route from Kyoto to Tokyo on the way back. You have to go through Kanazawa and Nagano. This route is 2.5 hours longer than direct route. But if you use JR pass, you can take either route.

      Online reservation is available for a few trains only in your trip. JR East online reservation is only way to book it.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/how-to-reserve-seat.html

      Golden Week is the busiest season. You will not be able to reserve your seat. Actually it may be too late to book for some trains because tickets was on sale one month prior to departure date. Please see the link below to get some tips.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/2017-busiest-period-to-travel-by-train-tips-to-book-your-seat-in-even-busy-period.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    I’ll be travelling from 2-10 may!

    2-4: Tokyo
    4-7: Osaka/Kyoto/Nara
    7-10: Tokyo

    Is the JR Kansai pass is more recommended?

    However, may I confirm if the trip back from Osaka to Tokyo is included in it?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    1. Hi Michelle,

      I think JR Pass is the best choice.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html

      First of all, any Kansai pass do not cover Tokyo-Osaka transfers.
      Next, you may use Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass. But this deal does not cover Tokyo-Osaka direct route. You need to go through Kanazawa and need to change trains at least once at Kanazawa. Trip time is more than 2 hours longer than direct route.

      On the other hand, JR pass covers direct route. So even though it’s more expensive, it’s more convenient and useful.I think you can use 7 days pass for the last 7 days and use other deals for the first couple of days. Please see the link below:
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/airport_bus/index.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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