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

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 enlarge)
Kanazawa and Toyama access map (Click to enlarge)

As you see the map above, there are several ways to get Kanazawa and Toyama, Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo, Limited Express Thuderbird from Osaka and Kyoto, Limited Express Shirasagi from Nagoya and 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
Newest Shinkansen fleet E7 series for Hokuriku Shinkansen

Hokuriku Shinkansen makes Kanazawa and Toyama be much closer to Tokyo! Please see the trip time by fastest train connection before and after Hokuriku Shinkansen open.

Joetsu Shinkansen and
Limited Express Hakutaka
before Mar 13, 2015
Hokuriku Shinkansen
after Mar 14, 2015
Tokyo – Toyama3 hrs 15 mins2 hrs 10 mins
Tokyo – Kanazawa3 hrs 50 mins2 hrs 30 mins

As you see the table above, we can save at least one hour for one way. If you want, day tirp to Kanazawa from Tokyo is not impossible. And Hokuriku Shinkansen is a direct access from Tokyo to Toyama and Kanazawa. We had to transfer at Echigo-Yuzawa or Nagaoka to get Tokyo and Kanazawa from Tokyo. This is another asset too. I wrote about Hokuriku Shinkansen at the link below. You will find more information about this Shinkansen line.

Hokuriku Shinkansen, direct access to Kanazawa, Nagano and Toyama from Tokyo

Hokuriku Shinkansen was operated as Nagano Shinkansen before March 13, 2015. It was exteneded to Kanazawa. That means this Shinkansen line connect Nagano and Kanazawa much shorter than before. Before Hokuriku Shinkansen open, we had to take local train from Nagano to Naoetsu. And then we have to transfer to Limited Express train. Hokuriku Shinkansen makes a trip between Nagano and Kanazawa be much easier and more convenient too. Now it is much easier to drop by Nagano on the way to Kanazawa and Toyama.

Limited Express Thunderbird from Osaka and Kyoto

Limited Express "Thunderbird"
Limited Express Thunderbird runs between Osaka/Kyoto and Kanazawa.

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.

Access to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto. Limited Express Thuderbird

Most of Thunderbird connected Osaka and Toyama directly too. But this train runs between Osaka and Kanazawa only except one round trip to Wakura-Onsen. Now there is no direct access from Osaka/Kyoto to Toyama. We must transfer to local trian or Hokuriku Shinkansen. If you use JR Pass, you cannot take local train to Toyama from Kanazawa because conventional line belong to non JR company. Only Hokuriku Shinkansen is covered by JR Pass.

Limited Express Shirasagi from Nagoya and Maibara

683 series for Limited Express Shirasagi
683 series for Limited Express Shirasagi

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 Shinkansen to get Maibara and transfer to this express train. The trip time is a bit shorter than Nagoya-Kanazawa direct access.

Some of this train connected Nagoya and Toyama directly. But it is same thing as Limited Express Thunderbird. All trips go to Kanazawa only and you have to transfer at Kanazawa to get Toyama.

Limited Express Wide View Hida from Nagoya via Takayama

KIHA 85 series for Limited Express Wide View Hida
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 Limited Express Wide View Hida.

Access to Takayama and Hida from Nagoya. Limited Express Wide View Hida

In terms of distance, this route is shorter than Limited Express Shirasagi and Hokuriku Shinkansen route, Nagoya-Maibara-Kanazawa-Toyama. But it takes longer. It takes 3.5 hours from Nagoya to Toyama by Shirasagi and Hokuriku Shinkansen. It takes aboiut 3 hours 50 minutes by Limited Express Wide View Hida. And also most of Wide View Hida runs between Nagoya and Takayama. There are only 3 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:

How to access to Takayama by trains and buses

Limited Express Shirayuki and Hokuriku Shinkansen from Niigata

Limited Express Hokuetsu connected Niigata and Toyama/Kanazawa directly before Hokuriku Shinkansen open. But there is no direct access any more and we have to transfer at Joetsu-Myoko station on Hokuriku Shinkansen. Limited Express Shirayuki connects Joetsu-Myoko and Niigata in 2 hours. Please find more information at the link below:

Limited Express Shirayuki. Intercity express between Joetsu-Myoko and Niigata

229 thoughts on “How to access to Kanazawa and Toyama from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Niigata.”

  1. Hi Takeshi, we will arrive at Narita Airport on 3 Dec (7.15am) and depart Narita on 13 Dec (9.40pm). Our itinerary is as follows :
    Narita -> Takayama -> Shirakawago -> Kyoto -> Osaka -> Hakone -> Tokyo.
    Would JR Pass enable us to move to the places as per our itinerary, and also move around the place as well? Would JR Pass be the best option? If not, what other passes should i buy? Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Elaine,

      Only JR pass 7 days works for your trip. If you use 7 days pass, you have to complete from Narita to Hakone in 7 days. You don’t need to inclued Hakone in 7 days period. When you go to Hakone, you will get off Shinkansen at Odawara. You must be Odawara in 7 days from arrival day in Narita.

      If you cannot, actually regular ticket is your choice. It’s cheaper than any other deal. Of course 14 days pass is way more expensive.

      JR Pass covers most part of your trip but it does not cover local transports, such as subway, city bus, local bus. Please see the link below to find more info:

      You need to add Hakone Free pass anyway.

      You can get Tokyo from Hakone by Odakyu railway. You can add other deal in Tokyo:


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi
    May I confirm which tourist pass goes well with my itinerary for my stay from 17 dec to 26 dec at Osaka.
    Day 1: will be arriving at Kansai airport and stay at Osaka
    Day 2 & 3: from Osaka to kanazawa
    Day 4 to 10: Osaka- Kyoto- Nara- Kobe- Osaka

    For my trip from Osaka to shirakawago, shall i stop over for one night at Kanazawa or takayama? Just thinking it will be longer travelling if stay overnight at takayama?

    Looking forward for your reply and share of thoughts


    1. Hi Ally,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago.

      You can stay in Kanazawa. This pass covers Takayama but the direct route from Osaka to Takayama is not covered. You need to get Kanazawa first anyway.

      Takayama Hokuriku area pass covers Osaka to Kyoto too. If you intend to visit Kyoto as day trip from Osaka, you can use this pass for this round trip. But it does not cover any local transports in Kyoto. You need to add other deal or ticket.

      For other trip, please see the links below to find the deal.


      Takeshi /

  3. I wish to travel Kanazawa – Shirakawa-go – Gokayama – Kanazawa by using JR PASS and/or Bus. Time available is half day. How it can be planned?

  4. Hi Takeshi,
    I have been trying my best to find a cheaper and reasonable way to travel:
    a) Nagoya airport (Chubbu) directly to kanazawa.
    b) Kanazawa to Takayama
    c) Takayama back to Nagoya to fly home.
    Your help will be deeply appreciated.

    1. Hi May,

      Unfortunately there is no deals to cover these trips. Takayama Hokuriku area pass covers all places where you go. But it does not cover direct way to get Kanazawa from Nagoya. You need to go through Takayama and Toyama (or Shirakawago) when you go to Kanazawa.

      If you are okay with it, you can use this pass. Otherwise regular fare is only choice.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I would like to check the best route with minimal cost to travel from Tokyo to Toyama>shirakawago>Takayama (whiever sequence that has cheapest fares) then back to kyoto.. We could spare 2-3days for this visit.. overnight af shirakawogo preferably.

  6. Hi Takeshi,
    Since Jr pass cannot be used in Kanazawa-Toyama route, may I know how much is expense for the train ticket? Thank you very much.


  7. Hi Takeshi,

    just wondering if it is possible to go shirakawa-go from tokyo for a day trip, I have bought a JRpass. and thinking bout going day trip to shirakawa-go thru kanazawa.


  8. Hi.can u help me decide,is it wise to get jr pass for a 4 day trip will be arriving at chubu on feb 26 8pm and on feb 27 to shirakawago feb 28 takayama again for ski resort then on march 1 osaka universal then march 2 10 pm departure. Can u give me ideas how to maximize our stay and how to use the pass.thanks

    1. HiTakeshi,
      May i confirm if I buy a Hokuriku Arch Pass,
      1. From Osaka to Tokyo: I can’t travel directly from Osaka or Kyoto to Tokyo, but have to go via Kanazawa route to Tokyo?
      2. From Tokyo to Osaka: I can’t travel from Tokyo to Osaka directly, but have to go via Kanazawa route to Tokyo?

      If so, I then have to buy 7 days pass.

  9. Hi Takeshi,

    If i purchase Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass for next year April 2017, what is the faster way from Kansai Airport to Takayama? Please advise. Thank you.

    1. Hi Ivy,

      There are two routes.

      Kansai airport – Shin Osaka – Kanazawa – Toyama – Takayama
      Kansai airport – Shin Osaka – Kanazawa – Shirakawago – Takayama

      Probably it’s not much different between the route via Toyama and the route via Shirakawago.

      You cannot take the route via Gifu or Nagoya from Osaka. This pass does not cover this route.

      JR will revise timetable in next March. I cannot compare exactly at this point. New timetable will come up sometimes in February. But I don’t think it will be much different.


      Takeshi /

      1. Dear Takeshi,
        From Sapporo to sendai is it cover by JR pass..
        While we are on Hokkaido can we used JR pass to otaru,beie and furano?


  10. Hi Takeshi!

    If I have a Kansai thru pass, from Kintetsu Nara station, how to go to Kobe? We plan to taste a good kobe beef there for lunch after we visit Nara. And how to go to Himeji castle from Kobe?

    1. Hi Ryan,

      You can take Kintetsu and Hanshin railways. These two train companies are connected at Osaka-Namba. Many trains runs between Kintetsu Nara stationa and Kobe-Sannomiya station directly. Please see the link below:

      You can take Hanshin railway and Sanyo railway to get Himeji from Kobe.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Thanks for your quick response.
        I have another question. If I have Kansai thru pass unlimited for 3 days, when going to tour Kyoto from Nipponbanshi. Do I need to purchase the Kyoto sightseeing one day pass for trains?”, subways and buses? Or it is included in the Kansai Thru pass?


          1. Hi Takeshi,

            Can I use Kansai thru pass (unlimited for 3 days) going to Osaka aquarium? We will stay in Nippombanshi area. Google map said we should take Sakaisuji line then transfer to Chuo line to get to Osaka aquarium. But I cannot find Chuo line in the available train fro Kansai thru pass. Can we use Kansai thru pass?

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