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

The Hokuriku Shinkansen between Nagano and Itoigawa is closed due to the damage by the typhoon on October 13th, 2019. The train base in Nagano flooded and 10 of 27 train sets were in the water. The long term suspension is expected on this segment. If you go to Toyama and Kanazawa from Tokyo, take the Shinkansen to get Nagoya or Maibara and then take the limited express Shirasagi. The segment between Tokyo and Nagano, and between Kanazawa and Itoigawa are in operation. But the train operation has not been back to nomarl. The number of train is much smaller. All seats other than Green class and Gran class are non reserved seat. You cannot book a seat in the ordinary class now.

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 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
Newest Shinkansen fleet E7 series for Hokuriku Shinkansen

The Hokuriku Shinkansen between Nagano and Itoigawa is closed due to the damage by the typhoon on October 13th, 2019. The train base in Nagano flooded and 10 of 27 train sets were in the water. The long term suspension is expected on this segment. If you go to Toyama and Kanazawa from Tokyo, take the Shinkansen to get Nagoya or Maibara and then take the limited express Shirasagi. The segment between Tokyo and Nagano, and between Kanazawa and Itoigawa are in operation. But the train operation has not been back to nomarl. The number of train is much smaller. All seats other than Green class and Gran class are non reserved seat. You cannot book a seat in the ordinary class now.

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"
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
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
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:

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:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/japan-rail-pass-user-guide-how-to-use-jr-pass-to-its-maximum.html#How_to_use_JR_pass_in_major_cities_and_tourist_spots

      You need to add Hakone Free pass anyway.
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/

      You can get Tokyo from Hakone by Odakyu railway. You can add other deal in Tokyo:
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  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

    Cheers

    1. Hi Ally,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/takayama-hokuriku-area-pass-perfect-deal-to-get-takayama-kanazawa-toyama-shirakawago-from-nagoya-or-osaka.html

      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.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      For other trip, please see the links below to find the deal.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-choose-discount-railway-ticket-and-pass-in-kansai-area.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  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.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/takayama-hokuriku-area-pass-perfect-deal-to-get-takayama-kanazawa-toyama-shirakawago-from-nagoya-or-osaka.html

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

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  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.

    Nadine

  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.

    thanks

  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.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-to-takayama-by-trains-and-buses.html

      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.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      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?

        Rgds,
        Jessy

  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?
    Thanks

    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:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-transfer-among-kyoto-osaka-and-kobe-compare-japan-railway-and-private-lines.html#Hanshin_Railway

      You can take Hanshin railway and Sanyo railway to get Himeji from Kobe.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/world-heritage-destinations/how-to-access-to-himeji-and-kobe-from-osaka.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      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?

        Thanks

          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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