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. Hi,

    My wife and I will be visiting Tokyo on 1st April.We are intending to go on a day trip to Kanazawa on 3rd April. Would it be better to get the JRpass or buy single trip tickets?

    Also, where can we reserve the Hokuriku Shinkansen tickts?

  2. Vera Yong says:


    Our first time in Japan, We are arriving at Narita airport on 9 April at 4.30 pm,

    1) Narita airport to Hotel Bellclassic at Minami -Otsuka tokyo

    2) From Bellclassic hotel to ApaHotel Kanazawa chuo at Katamachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa-sen

    3) From Kanazawa, we are heading back to Palace Hotel Hakone at Sengohukara

    4) Hakone back to Narita airport

    Appreciate your kind advise on whether on the kind of transportation for our itineray. A bit confused with all the passes.

    Thank you in advance for your advice


  3. Dolce says:


    My family will be traveling fr Tokyo to Echigo Yuzawa( 1 night stay) and then to Kanazawa before returning to Tokyo.

    Given the change in train availability( with the introduction of the new Shinkansen line), how do we travel to Kanazawa from Echigo Yuzawa?

    Appreciate your help.

  4. I am so confused about all of this, and what my JR pass will cover when I am in Japan March 15-27. Can you help me figure this out? I’m even confused by the Hyperdia app, which is supposed to show my JR pass accessible pathway, except it still says I have to pay to travel. Here is my itinerary, and my question is: how much of this *cannot* be done with the JR pass, or will cost additional money?
    NRT to Tokyo Station
    Tokyo Station to Matsue Station
    Matsue Station to Hiroshima Station
    Hiroshima Station to Osaka Station
    Osaka Station to Kyoto Station
    Kyoto Station to Kintetsu-Nara Station
    Kintetsu-Nara Station to Oita
    Oita to Yokosuka
    I guess a better question would be how do I read Google Maps? For instance, if I looks at the various directions that it gives me, am I supposed to avoid the ones that don’t use the little JR symbol because I’ll pay for those?

  5. Felicia says:


    First of all, thank you for providing so many useful information about Japan’s rail routes.

    I’m planning to do a short trip to Karuizawa & Kanazawa from Tokyo in April 2015.
    My question is,
    is there any direct train from Karuizawa to Kanazawa? From the route of Hokuriku Shinkansen that will operate in March 2015, I can take the Asama train? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    I also have a question about the Gran Class. If I want to take the Gran Class for the Kanazawa-Tokyo journey, will the ticket be sold out if I buy it on the day of my departure? Or should I buy it prior to my departure?

    Thank you very much.


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi Felicia,

      Yes. You can take Hokuriku Shinkansen Asama or other train, like Hakutaka.

      It’s hard to say about availability of Gran Class. But I recommend you to book as early as possible.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Felicia says:


        Since I’ll do the round trip of Tokyo-Karuizawa-Kanazawa (including Takayama)-Tokyo,
        do I need to get a JR Pass or not? Since I read your comment mentioned that round trip to Kanazawa is cheaper than 7-days JR Pass.

        Thank you.

        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / JPRail says:

          Hi Felicia,

          Yes. It’s cheaper. But the difference is quite small. It’s only 1000 yen. If you use the pass in Tokyo, JR Pass may be cheaper than single fare. And also this is much easier than using single fare. I think you can go for JR pass 7 days.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

          • Felicia says:


            Thank you again for your fast and prompt reply! 🙂
            Pardon me for another question,
            How if I don’t use the JR Pass, and I use PASMO card for traveling inside Tokyo (since I’ll be traveling using JR and non-JR lines).
            Will it still be more expensive than purchasing JR Pass?

            Thank you!

            • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
              Takeshi / JPRail says:

              Hi Felicia,

              If you use JR pass, you have to use other than Hokuriku Shinkansen trip to Kanazawa. Otherwise single ticket is cheaper.
              You don’t intend to take a train from airport? You can pay single ticket for subway and use JR Pass to take JR train in Tokyo. Pasmo is okay but it does not give you unlimited ride and give you same value as cash. If you take subway lots, you can use subway pass beside JR pass.


              Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. Van says:

    We’ll be in Japan at the end of March, 2015, and plan to take the Kagayaki to Kanazawa, but get out at Nagano (to visit the snow monkey park in Jigokudani). WeI have several questions:
    1) Do we make 2 reservations: 1 for Tokyo to Nagano, and 1 for Nagano to Kanazawa?
    2) Are lockers at Nagano station large enough to hold our carry-ons?
    Thank you for sharing your info about Japan.

  7. Greg says:

    Hello Takeshi!

    I wonder if it’s possible to travel from Hiroshima to Kanazawa using JR Pass. The deal is, after visiting Kyoto, Nara and so on to travel south to Hiroshima for 2 days and after that go north to Nagano, but first see Kanazawa and Takayama. Would it be possible using JR Pass? Thanks for advices!

  8. hello, I am still confused by the changes to the new Hokuriku line. Will I still be able to use a JR pass to go from Kanazawa to Toyama after March 14th?

    thank you

  9. kelly says:

    Hi, need your advice on my itinerary from 18/02 – 25/02

    * 18/02: 08:25H: arrive at osaka kansai int AP.
    look for exchange counter for Hokuriki Tourist pass and catch the train to Kanazawa.
    Plan to stay for a night in Kanazawa.

    * 19/02: take nohi bus to Takayama for 2 nights

    2 nights at Gero Hotspring.OR 1 night Gero 1 night nagoya

    Then purchase kintetsu rail pass for traveling between Nagoya, Osaka nad Kyoto for the next few days.
    is it still necessary for me to get osaka kaiya, yokoso osaka, konku tokuwari rapi ticket or, ICOCA

    Thank you

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi Kelly,

      You can find the location to exchange for Takayama Hokuriku tourist pass at the link below:

      This pass covers your trip from Osaka. You need some deals to get Osaka anyway. I recommend you to use ICOCA and Haruka to get Shin-Osaka and start to use Takayama Hokuriku Tourist Pass. Please find more info about ICOCA and Haruka at the link below:

      If you purchase round trip of ICOCA and Haruka, you can get Kansai airport by this deal on last day.

      I’m not sure you need some more deals in Osaka. Because you will have 1500 yen ICOCA e-money. You can take any trains in Osaka to use this e-money. If it’s not enough, you may add other deals, like subway pass. But it depends on your plan in Osaka.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • kelly says:


        Appreciate your kind reply.
        our itinerary :
        18/02: arrive at osaka kansai AP, travel to kanazawa for a day.

        19/02 – 20/02: from kanazawa to takayama for 2 nights. Meanwhile, will visit shirakawago and gero hotspring during the two days stay in takayama.

        ***** what is the best mode of transport to travel from takayama to kyoto, is it wise to use the hokuriku pass to travel from takayama to nagoya and transit from nagoya to kyoto?
        (to use the kintetsu pass to travel from nagoya to kyoto)

        21/02: stay in kyoto hotel for a night.

        22/02 – 24/02: stay 3 nights in osaka.

        May I enquire:

        We plan to buy

        a. ICOCA & Haruku package (for airport transit)
        b) Hokuriku takayama pass ( for traveling along osaka, kanazawa, takayama)
        c) kintetsu pass.( for traveling from nagoya to kyoto-oska.)

        1. If we (family of 5, 2 adults and 3 children, age: 8, 13,14 ) plan to travel directly from kansai Int AP to our hotel in Kanazawa for our first night stay.
        Shall we purchase the round trip ICOCA & haruka package to travel from kansai AP to Kyoto then, transit from kyoto to kanazawa by using the hokuriku pass.? or

        is it more time and cost saving to use the hokuriku pass from osaka to kanazawa directly?

        however, my question is what is the best way to travel from kansai AP to osaka? by suing ICOCA & haruka or just by a ticket for AP transit to osaka only?

        Thank you for your time answering all my questions.


        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / JPRail says:

          Hi Kelly,

          I recommend ICOCA and Haruka. Because you will use ICOCA after you come back to Osaka. Even if you use base fare ticket to get Osaka station, base fare is 1190 yen. ICOCA is 2000 yen (1500 yen e-money + 500 yen deposit). So if you use ICOCA, ICOCA and Haruka is cheaper.

          ICOCA and Haruka covers express Haruka ride. So you can get Shin-Osaka or Kyoto by ICOCA and transfer to Thuderbird to get Kanazawa. As long as you reserve seats for Thunderbird, it’s same to transfer at either Shin-Osaka or Kyoto.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. WL says:

    hi Takeshi,

    i am planning my first trip to Japan in April 2015.

    planned itinerary

    reach Japan (either Haneda or Narita) at 6am
    – i prefer Haneda as it seems closer to Tokyo station
    – can i use JR pass or JR east pass from Haneda to Tokyo station?
    – i understand that i can use JR pass or JR east pass if it’s from Narita, not sure about Haneda though.

    after that, i am going to take the new Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Kanazawa
    – i understand that it’s still not clear whether JR pass or JR east pass can be used for this new Shinkansen. Or do you have any latest information on this?

    i will spend 4 nights in Kanazawa.
    – can JR pass or JR east pass be used to travel within kanazawa?
    – do you advise me to rent and drive a car in Kanazawa? ( i am travelling with my wife and a 2 year old boy)

    i will then do the reverse from Kanazawa to Tokyo. and spend 4 nights in Shinjuku before going back.

    lastly, with my itinerary above, do you advise me to buy a 5 day JR east pass or a 7 day JR pass?

    Thanks in advance.

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