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. I have some issues with my itinerary. I don’t know which one is best option:
    I’m going to have JR pass on these days of my trip

    Tokyo > kanazawa > shirakawago > takayama > nagoya > kyoto

    Tokyo >nagoya > takayama > shirakawago>kanazawa>kyoto

  2. Dear Takeshi-san
    My family of 6 will be travelling to Japan and our itinerary is as follows:
    4 nights in Tokyo
    2 nights in Kanazawa
    2 nights in Kaga Onsen
    3 nights in Osaka
    What kind of pass would be good for us or should we just stick to the pay-as-you-travel fare? Many thanks

  3. Lin says:

    Hi Takeshi san,

    Please tell me about “Hokuriku Pass”
    my trip : Osaka-Kyoto-Kanazawa-Takayama-Kanazawa-Tokyo
    It the pass cover my whole trip arrive Tokyo? to Tokyo need to paid single ticket?


  4. prachak says:

    Hi takeshi san
    i go to kanazawa from osaka by night bus . Can u give me website for booking ticket night bus ?
    Osaka- Kanazawa
    Thank you

  5. Jen says:

    Hi Takeshi-San,

    I am planning to go on the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, ending in Kanazawa. The plan is:
    Day 1: Narita Airport to Matsumoto
    Day 2: Alpine Route, ending at Toyama and to Kanazawa
    Day 3: Kanazawa to Tokyo
    Day 4: Tokyo to Narita Airport

    Please advise if I should get a JR Hokuriku Area Pass or what is the best ticketing option for me.

    Thank you!

  6. I am planing to go from Aomori to Nagoya by plane and then go to Takayama on the same day in Feb 13, 2016. Any comments are appreciated.

  7. Anna says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    Would you recommend what pass to buy if our itinerary is like this below?
    19 Oct: Kix to Osaka
    20 Oct: Osaka USJ then night trip via train to Tokyo
    21 Oct: Tokyo Disney
    22 Oct: Tokyo then night trip via train to Nagoya
    23 Oct: Nagoya to Shirakawago half day tour only
    24 Oct: Nagoya to Chubu airport

  8. Lee KT says:

    This is our plan. Need your advise on types of JR passes.

    Day 1: We will be arriving Kansai Airport early morning and would like to proceed directly to Takayama from Kansai Airport. Can advise us the best route? (staying at Takayama for 2 nights)

    Day 2: We plan to take Nohi Bus from Takayama to Sharikawa-go. Do you think we will have sufficient time to cover Kanazawa and back to Takayama on the same evening?

    Day 3: Plan to travel from Takayama down to Nagoya. (Staying at Nagoya for 2 nights)

    Day 4: Nagoya & Kyoto

    Day 5: Plan to travel from Nagoya to Osaka. (Staying at Osaka for 4 nights. )

    Day 6: Kobe

    Day 7: Nara

    Day 8: Osaka

    Day 9: Osaka till departure at night.

    Your opinion much appreciated.

    Thank you.

  9. jiourney
    JL says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I will be traveling from Kanazawa to Nagano with a JR East Pass. However, I understand that the pass does not cover the journey past Joetsumyoko from Nagano.

    Would I be able to purchase a ticket from Kanazawa straight to Nagano and pay part of it that is not covered by my JR East pass?

    Or do I have to purchase a ticket from Kanazawa to Joetsumyoko, get off, and take another Shinkansen to Nagano?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance!


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi JL san,

      You can purchase single ticket for Kanazawa to Joetsu-Myoko when you take a train at Kanazawa. You don’t need to get off the train at Joetsu-Myoko.

      When you purchase a ticket at Kanazawa, you can show your JR East Pass. If you purchase reserved seat for Kanazawa to Joetsu-Myoko, you may get same seat. But I’m not 100% sure Kanazawa station can handle this. Because Kanazawa is outside JR East pass coverage.

      Or I think you will be in JR East pass area before you go to Kanazawa. When you get an JR East Pass, you may purchase and book the train from Kanazawa to Nagano. I’m pretty sure you can get same seat if you pay additional for Kanazawa to Joetsu-Myoko.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. KL says:

    Dear Takeshi san,

    We will arrive at KIX in the morning of 31 March.

    1) We will travel to Kyoto and spend 3 nights there
    2) On 3rd April, we will travel from Kyoto to Kanazawa, then spend one night in Kanazawa.
    3) On 4th April, we will travel from Kyoto to Takayama, and spend one night in Takayama.
    4) On 5th April, we plan to travel from Takayama to Osaka (and still wondering whether it is better to travel via Nagoya or via Kanazawa)
    5) On 7th April, we will travel from Osaka to KIX

    From my research, it seems like I should get a single ticket from KIX to Kyoto, a 5 days Takayama Pass (for US$88). And if I were to travel from Takayama to Osaka via Nagoya, I will buy single ticket from Nagoya to Osaka. Then, a single ticket from Osaka to KIX.

    Just like your opinion on this.

    Thank you

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