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. elaineteng
    Elaine says:

    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.

  2. Ally lee says:

    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


  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. May says:

    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.

  5. Vince says:

    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. nameisgg
    Nadine says:

    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.


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Nadine,

      You can move from Kanazawa to Toyama by JR Pass. Hokuriku Shinkansen connects these cities and it’s covered by JR pass.


      Takeshi /

  7. tav says:

    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. Dang says:

    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

  9. Ivy Wong says:

    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.

  10. Ryan says:

    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?

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