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. dini says:

    Hi Takeshi san,
    i plan to buy JR tokyo wide pass. Is it cover trip from tokyo to toyama station using shinkansen hakutaka/kagayaki? please advise, many thanks !

  2. Loo says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Day 1-4 Tokyo
    Day 5-7 Kyoto
    Day 7-9 Osaka
    Day 10 Nara
    Day 11 Osaka

    I am thinking to have a 7 days JR pass and would like to know can JR pass be used to travel from Tokyo to Shirakawago? Is that via SHINKANSEN NASUNO? Your kind reply is very much appreciated.

    Thank & Regards,


  3. cmfasmockpapers
    Isaac Goh says:

    Dear Takeshi San,

    Greetings from Singapore!

    I would like to hear your opinion on our itinerary whether it is cost effective over a period about 13 days.

    Thank you very much in advance!

    6 June – Kansai Airport –> Osaka
    7 June – Osaka
    8 June – Osaka –> Kyoto
    9 June – Kyoto
    10 June – Kyoto –> Hida Takeyama
    11 June – Hida Takayama
    12 June – Hida Takayama –> Shirakawa Go –> Kanazawa –> Shirakawa Go
    13 June – Shirakawa Go –> Kamikochi –> Okhuida Onsen
    14 June – Okhuida Onsen –> Matsumoto
    15 June – Matsumoto –>Tokyo
    16 June – Tokyo –> Nikko –> Tokyo
    17 June – Tokyo –> Hakone –> Tokyo
    18 June – Tokyo –> Narita Airport –> Singapore

    Is it better to take a combination of 7 days JR pass and 5 day Takayama Hokuriku Pass OR 14 days JR pass that is more cost efficient?

    Is there any way in our travel to make it more effective?

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Takeshi,
    We are planning to go around central Japan on the 21th december.
    This is my plan:
    21 Dec arrive Nagoya, overnight in Nagoya
    22-24 Dec Takayama, Shirakawago, kanazawa
    25 Dec go to Tokyo, pass in Nagano to see the snow monkey. overnight in Tokyo
    27 Dec flight back from Narita
    Is my itinerary realistic? Or if too tight, should I skip the snow monkey, change it with Toyama? What pass do you recommend, should I get the Hokuriku area pass or the JR 7 day?

    Thanks so much.
    Ms Aries G

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Aries,

      Single ticket may be the cheapest option but it’s not much different from JR Pass 7 days. If you want to make it be easier, you can purchase JR pass 7 days. But it does not include bus to Shirakawago.

      You can visit Nagano on the way to Tokyo. It takes less than 3 hours from Kanazawa to Tokyo. It’s not hard to drop by there.


      Takeshi /

  5. donniewang – San Francisco
    Donnie says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Great article! I’m planning a trip to Japan for next week and my itinerary is as follows:

    Days 1-4: Tokyo
    Day 5: Tokyo to Kyoto
    Day 6: Kyoto
    Day 7: Kyoto to Kanazawa
    Day 8: Kanazawa
    Day 9: Kanazawa to Tokyo
    Days 10-11: Tokyo

    Which passes would you recommend?


  6. Joof says:

    I plan to follow one of the plan above, first to buy a Takayama Hokuriku Pass valid for 5 days JPY13,500 and plan my itinerary as following :
    24 March – Singapore to Nagoya
    25 Mach Arrive city to Kyoto > Kanazawa (JR Limited Express = Thunderbird)
    26 March Kanazawa > Toyama (Hokuriku Shinkansen)
    27 March Toyama > Takayama (JR Takayama Line)
    28 March Takayama > Shirakawago (Nouhi Bus)
    29 March Shirakawago > Kanazawa (Nouhi bus)
    30 March Kanazawa > Kyoto
    31 March Kyoto to Osaka
    01 April Osaka – Tokyo (or optional, I can returned back to Singapore this day)
    02 April Tokyo – Back to Singapore.

    What are the cheaper travel alternative to travel from Nagoyo/Osaka back to Tokyo? Or it is better I stay in Osaka and move around with the Kaisai pass and forget about Tokyo to save cost. (* I have been to Tokyo many times. ^_^)

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Joof,

      If you want to save your cost, you have to change your itinerary. Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is a good choice. But it’s valid for 5 days. Now in your itinerary, you will spend 6 days for Kyoto-Takayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Shirakawago-Kyoto. You have to pay single fare for Kanazawa-Kyoto (or reverse).

      I recommend you to change the following:

      25 March Nagoya > Takayama
      26 March Takayama > Shirakawgo
      27 March Shirakawago > Toyama
      28 March Toyama > Kanazawa
      29 March Kanazawa > Kyoto
      30 March Kyoto
      31 March Kyoto to Osaka

      If you go to Tokyo, you have to pay single fare. So it depends on your budget. If the flight from is much cheaper than from KIX, you may think about it. The choice is yours.


      Takeshi /

  7. fay says:


    I bought jr pass 7days and plan my itinerary as following
    >> 10 Jan Tokyo – Kanazawa
    (shinkansen hakutaka)

    >>12 Jan Takayama-Kanazawa
    (Ltd.epx wide view hida + shinkansen tsurugi)

    >>13 Jan Kanazawa-tokyo
    (shinkansen kagayaki)

    >>15 Jan Tokyo-Otsuki
    (Jr yamanote line for osaki +Ltd expa kaiji)

    >>16 Jan tokyo- narita
    (Ltd exp narita express)

    Is my planning on trains all correct and covered by the pass?

    Thank you

  8. Alex says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    My family (4 persons) are planning to go to Japan mid December. Below is our itinerary:
    Day 1-2: Sapporo (Furano)
    Day 3: Fly to Osaka (via Kansai Airport), day trip to Nara
    Day 4: Osaka (Universal Studio)
    Day 5: Osaka to Hiroshima
    Day 6: Hiroshima to Takayama via Nagoya
    Day 7: Takayama to Tokyo via Toyama
    Day 8: Day trip from Tokyo to Fuji and Hakone
    Day 9: Day trip from Tokyo to Nikko
    Day 10: Around Tokyo before flying back via Narita Airport

    We are planning to buy JR Pass and start using it in Day 3 until Day 9. My questions are:
    1. Is buying JR Pass more suitable and economical for my itinerary? Is using it starting Day 3 better than Day 4 thru the rest of the trip?
    2. Is there any faster way travelling from Hiroshima to Takayama via Nagoya? If yes, which route should I go?
    3. Is JR Pass cover Hokuriku Shinkansen from Toyama to Tokyo?
    4. Day trip to Hakone from Tokyo using JR Pass only useful until Odawara station right?

    Sorry I bombard you with so many questions, just want to utilize the JR Pass to the fullest.

    Thank you in advance.

  9. Ms Tang says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I bought Takayama Hokuriku Pass valid for 5 days JPY13,500 and plan my itinerary as following :
    29 Nov Kyoto > Kanazawa (JR Limited Express = Thunderbird)
    29 Nov Kanazawa > Toyama (Hokuriku Shinkansen)
    29 Nov Toyama > Takayama (JR Takayama Line)
    30 Nov Takayama > Shirakawago (Nouhi Bus)
    1st Dec Shirakawago > Kanazawa (Nouhi bus)
    1st Dec Kanazawa > Osaka (JR Limited Express = Thunderbird)
    3rd Dec Osaka > Kansai Airport (Limited Express Haruka non-reserved seat only)

    My questions:
    1) Is my planning on trains all correct and covered by the pass?
    2) If I want to travel between Osaka and Kyoto on 2nd Dec by the same pass, I can only take Limited Express Thunderbird?
    3) There are 4 times free reserved seat for this pass. Can I reserve at ticketing counter right before I board the train ?
    4) Can I use this pass to go Ogimachi and Gokayama as I notice the bus passby these places? I just thought good to know in case I have time to explore last minute.

    FYI, I stay at Hirayu Onsen on 29 Nov, Shirakawago on 30 Nov and Osaka Hana Hostel on 1-2 Dec. Appreciate your suggestions if there is better way to get these places. Thanks in advance!

    Ms Tang

  10. Jen says:

    Dear Takeshi san,

    Day 1-3:
    Upon arrival at Narita Airport, I go straight to Kanazawa and would be exploring the areas around Kanazawa over 3 days. I hope to see Shirakawa-go and/or Takayama during this period.

    Day 4-6:
    I will depart Kanazawa to Tokyo. I plan to do some day trips from Tokyo to e.g. Izukyu Shimoda or Kawaguchiko, or even Ibaraki if I have the time.

    Please advise which pass would be suitable for me.

    Thanks & regards,

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Jen san,

      JR Pass 7 days is highly recommended. Round trip fare between Tokyo and Kanazawa is almost same as 7 days price.
      But it does not cover any bus around Kanazawa, like to Shirakawago.


      Takeshi /

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