How to access to Kanazawa and Toyama from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Niigata.

Kanazawa Higashi ChayagaiTakayama, Kanazawa and Shirakawago
Kenrokuen is one of the biggest names in Kanazawa and also one of three  top gardens in Japan.  ©Ishikawa Prefecture Tourist Association and Kanazawa Convention Bureau/© JNTO
Kenrokuen is one of the biggest names in Kanazawa and also one of three top gardens in Japan. ©Ishikawa Prefecture Tourist Association and Kanazawa Convention Bureau/© JNTO

Kanazawa is one of the big names in Japan. It has lovely preserved town and Kenrokuen garden that is one of three well known gardens with Kairakuen (Mito) and Korakuen (Okayama). Kanazawa is located in Hokuriku region. In this region, Toyama is well known as the gateway to Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route.

In mid March, 2015, Hokuriku Shinkansen open and both Kanazawa and Toyama are very accessible from Tokyo. In this post, I would like to show you about access from Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Niigata.

Route map

Please see the map below:

Kanazawa and Toyama access map (Click to view large)

As you see the map above, there are several ways to get Kanazawa and Toyama, The Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo, the limited express Thunderbird from Osaka and Kyoto, the limited express Shirasagi from Nagoya and the limited express Wide View Hida from Nagoya and Kyoto.

I would like to explain these routes one by one.

Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo and Nagano

Newest Shinkansen fleet E7 series for Hokuriku Shinkansen

The Hokuriku Shinkansen is the primary way to get Kanazawa and Toyama. It takes 2 hours 10 minutes to Toyama and 2.5 hours to Kanazawa by the fastest train, “Kagayaki” on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Please find more information about the Hokuriku Shinkansen in the link below:

The limited express Thunderbird from Osaka and Kyoto

Limited Express Thunderbird runs between Osaka/Kyoto and Kanazawa.

The limited express “Thunderbird” connects Osaka/Kyoto and Kanazawa directly. It runs very frequent and about 20 round trips. The average trip time is 2 hours 40 minutes.

There is no direct trains from Osaka/Kyoto to Toyama. You must transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen at Kanazawa. If you use JR Pass, Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass, Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass, you cannot take local train to Toyama from Kanazawa because this conventional line belong to non JR company. Only the Hokuriku Shinkansen is covered by these trains passes.

The limited express Shirasagi from Nagoya and Maibara

683 series for Limited Express Shirasagi

The limited express Shirasagi runs between Nagoya and Kanazawa and some trips run between Maibara and Kanazawa. The average trip time between Nagoya and Kanazawa is 3 hours. You may take the Tokaido Shinkansen to get Maibara and transfer to this express train. The trip time is a bit shorter than Nagoya-Kanazawa direct access. You may find more information in the post below:

The limited express Shirasagi goes to Kanazawa only and you have to transfer at Kanazawa to get Toyama.

The limited express Wide View Hida from Nagoya via Takayama

KIHA 85 series for Limited Express Wide View Hida

If you go to Toyama from Nagoya, you may take this route, Nagoya-Gifu-Takayama-Toyama by the limited express Wide View Hida.

In terms of distance, this route is shorter than the limited express Shirasagi and the Hokuriku Shinkansen route, Nagoya-Maibara-Kanazawa-Toyama. But it takes longer. It takes 3.5 hours from Nagoya to Toyama by Shirasagi and the Hokuriku Shinkansen. It takes about 3 hours 50 minutes by the limited express Wide View Hida. And also most of Wide View Hida runs between Nagoya and Takayama. There are only four round trips between Nagoya and Toyama. The scenery is stunning to take Wide View Hida route. If you have an extra time, this route is recommended. But Takayama is worthy of a stop.

Nohi bus from Takayama via Shirakawago

If you intend to visit Takayama, you can get Kanazawa via Shirakawago by bus. This route is very popular. Many tourists take this route and visit Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa same time. Please find more information at the link below:

The limited express Shirayuki and the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Niigata

There is no direct trains any more between Niigata and Toyama/Kanazawa. You have to transfer at Joetsu-Myoko station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The limited express Shirayuki connects Joetsu-Myoko and Niigata in 2 hours. Please find more information at the link below:


  1. Dear Takeshi,

    We will be getting the JR Pass, and we would like to visit Kanazawa, and Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

    Tokyo -> Kanazawa -> Toyama -> Alpine Route -> Shinano-Omachi -> Tokyo

    Does our JR Pass cover all the train routes, even the bullet trains? And how which of the sectors will we have to change trains?

    Thank you for your time, much appreciated.


  2. Stephen says:

    Dear Takeshi,
    I would like to take a train from Kanazawa to Kobe without too many changes of train. Would you please tell me the best way?
    Many thanks,

  3. DB says:

    Hello Takeshi,
    2 friends and I are heading to Fuji rock festival in Niigata at the end of July. We are told that the closest station is JR Echigo Yuzawa. What is the best/ easiest way to get from JR Echigo Yuzawa to Kyoto as we would like to go directly to Kyoto after the festival.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi DB,

      Unfortunately there is no direct service to Echigo-Yuzawa from Kyoto. You have to take Shinkansen to get Tokyo and transfer to another Shinkansen, Joetsu Shinkansen to get Echigo-Yuzawa. This is the fastest and most convenient way to get there.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. tigridus
    Cécile says:

    We will be in Kanazawa at the end of July. Then we have to take a train to go back to Tokyô. What is the solution which needs less time ?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Cécile,

      Please refer the chapter of Joetsu Shinkansen and Hakutaka at the top of this post.
      This is the fastest transfer to get Tokyo from Kanazawa.

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Caroline says:


    We are visiting Japan in April & our itinerary is as follows:

    April 4 arrive Tokyo
    April 7 travel to Kanazawa
    April 13 return to Tokyo
    April 15 leave Japan

    Would it save money to buy the 7 day JR Pass to start on April 7? We would like to make a trip to either Kyoto or Osaka during that week, using the rail pass.

    Many thanks

  6. Ching says:

    Hi there,

    I would like to travel from Jomo Kogen to Takayama, what would be the best way?



    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Ching,

      Jomokogen-(Shinkansen)-Echigoyuzawa-(Ltd Exp Hakutaka)-Toyama-(Local train)-Takayama


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. xtinTravels – I've always thought about documenting my travels, as a way to relive and remember them, and also, as a way to give some information to fellow travellers planning their vacations :)
    Christine says:


    I want to travel from Tokyo to Toyama using Joetsu Shinkansen and Limited Express Hakutaka. Will this route be covered by the JR East Pass?


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Christine,
      JR East Pass cover Hakutaka. But this pass cover only JR East area. That means the pass do not cover between Noaetsu and Toyama. You need to pay full fare for this section. The extra fare (basic fare+surcharge) is around 4000 yen.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. Ching says:

    I have a question on the JR East Pass Special and JR Kanto Pass Special. The valid period is any three days of the 10-day use period, does it need to be 3 consecutive days? Or it can be any 3 flexible days?

    I am planning to travel from Tokyo to Minakami/Jomo-Kogen for a day, and then go to Takayama for two days via Matsumoto, then back to Tokyo. How kind of JR pass should I get? Would JR Kanto Special and JR East Special be sufficient?



  9. Ching says:

    I am planning to travel from Minakami to Tateyama-Kurobe alpen route via Toyama. What is the best way to do?

    If I want to visit Kanasawa before going to Tateyama Kurobe alpen, is it far between Kanasawa and Toyama?



    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Ching,
      Minakami>(local train)>Echigo-Yuzawa>(Ltd Exp Hakutaka)>Toyama
      This route is the fastest. Kanazawa is 35 minutes away from Toyama by limited express train.
      If you need a schedule, check it at Hyperdia.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. Patricia says:

    We are a family of five planning to travel from Osaka to Kinoswaki Onsen/Amaohashidate area in March. We find the express train tickets are quite expensive. Is there any other route that would be suitable for the budget travelers.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Patricia,
      Bus is a bit cheaper than train. The fare is around 3500 to 4000 yen. But it does not have any online reservation. They accept a reservation by phone only.
      I put a link. But this is in Japanese.
      If you don’t care driving, probably rent-a-car is the best choice.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

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