Sample itinerary of day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Osaka or Kyoto

Kanazawa castle is one of the best places to see cherry blossom. (C) JNTO
Kanazawa castle is one of the best places to see cherry blossom. (C) JNTO

I prefer to stay in many cities and feel different atmosphere. But I know that some of you do not agree. Because you will travel with huge luggage and it may be issue for you.

Thus day trip is a prefect solution. When you stay in Kansai area, there are many places to see, such as Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji, Mt. Koya and many more places. But can you believe that you can visit Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Osaka or Kyoto in one day?

I would like to show you the sample itinerary of this day trip in this post.

From Osaka/Kyoto to Kanazawa

Limited Express Thunderbird is the primary way to get Kanazawa from Osaka.
Limited Express Thunderbird is the primary way to get Kanazawa from Osaka.

Osaka 7:10 / Shin-Osaka 7:14 / Kyoto 7:38 – (Limited Express Thunderbird 1) – Kanazawa 9:46

I recommend you to see Kanazawa first. Because the next bus leave for Shirakawago at 10:50.

Nohi Bus timetable (Kanazawa – Shirakawago)

You cannot do anything in Kanazawa for one hour. You can spend whole morning in Kanazawa and take a bus to Shirakawago after lunch time.

Return trip to Shirakawago

Gasshozukuri housing is the landmark of Shirakawago. (C) Akira Okada/ (C) JNTO
Gasshozukuri housing is the landmark of Shirakawago. (C) Akira Okada/ (C) JNTO

Kanazawa 13:15 – (Nohi Bus) – Shirakawago 14:30
Shirakawago 17:30 – (Nohi Bus) – Kanazawa 18:45

As you see Nohi Bus timetable, 17:30 is the last bus to go back to Kanazawa. You have three hours in Shirakawago. The next bus to Shirakawago after 13:15 is 14:40 departure from Kanazawa and arrival Shirakawago at 16:05. I think this is too late to arrive Shirakawago. You have less than 1.5 hour. It is too short to see Shirakawago.

Go back to Osaka or Kyoto from Kanazawa

Kanazawa station was renovated before Hokuriku Shinkansen opened.
Kanazawa station was renovated before Hokuriku Shinkansen opened.

There are two runs of Limited Express Thunderbird from Kanazwa to Osaka, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka.

Kanazawa 19:43 – (Limited Express Thunderbird 44) – Kyoto 22:02 / Shin-Osaka 22:25 / Osaka 22:50
Kanazawa 20:35 – (Limited Express Thunderbird 46) – Kyoto 22:44 / Shin-Osaka 23:07 / Osaka 23:12

So if you want to eat dinner in the restaurant, you can take the last Thunderbird. You will have two hours. There are many restaurants in Kanazawa station building.

If you want to go back to Osaka or Kyoto as soon as possible, take earlier departure at 19:43. You can grab some foods at Kanazawa station and eat on board. On board sales is not available on Limited Express Thunderbird. Don’t forget to grab it before getting on Thunderbird.

Suggested deal

Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is most recommended. Even if you use this pass just for this day trip, it is paid off. This pass covers all part of your trip.

If you have Japan Rail Pass, you can use the pass to get Kanazawa by Limited Express Thuderbird. But Nohi Bus to Shirakawago is not covered by JR pass. The extra fare is 3,290 yen for return.

Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass. Perfect deal to get Takayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Shirakawago from Nagoya to Osaka

Other rail passes in Kansai area, like Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Thru Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass are not recommended for this itinerary. Those do not cover most part of this itinerary.

Don’t forget to check the timetable before you go

The above sample itinerary is built by timetable of August 2015. When you use this sample itinerary, please check the updated timetable.

Hyperdia (check the train timetable)
Nohi bus (check the bus timetable)

135 thoughts on “Sample itinerary of day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Osaka or Kyoto”

  1. Hi Takeshi,
    need your advice for my below itinerary:

    day 1 arrive and stay in Tokyo
    day 2 Tokyo – kyoto
    day 3 kyoto , stay at osaka
    day 4 osaka
    day 5 osaka-kanazawa-shirakawa go-osaka (as your one day plan)
    day 6 osaka-tokyo
    day 7 tokyo
    day 8 Tokyo – mt.fuji (Kawaguchiko or hakone ?)
    do you suggest for a night stay or day trip?
    day 9 – day 12

    any other cities you can suggest to explore within 12 days travel in Japan?

    Thanks in advance

  2. Hi Takeshi,
    We in a group of 5 adults and 2 kids are planning for the below itinerary in Dec 22-29:
    Day 1-4 Staying in Kyoto; day trip to Osaka/Kobe/Nara
    Day 5-7 Staying in Kanazawa; day trip to Takayama
    Day 8 Back to Osaka, heading to Kansai International Airport, departing at 4pm

    Could you give us some suggestion and advice on the transportation please?

    1. Hi Lim,

      If you arrive in KIX on day 1, you may use ICOCA and Haruka for KIX to Kyoto.

      You can add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. It’s same type of card as ICOCA but it offers discount at many attractions.

      Kids deal is not available for ICOCA and Haruka. Kansai area pass is substitute deal.

      Kansai one pass is not available for kids either. Child ICOCA is substitute.

      You may use ICOCA and Kansai one pass for sightseeing in Kyoto. For trip to Nara and Kobe, Kansai area pass is the choice. So kids will take 3 days Kansai area pass for the first 3 days.

      For the last 5 days, Takayama Hokuriku area pass is the choice.

      You can use this deal for trip to Osaka on day 4.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi,

    I will be travelling to Osaka 12jan18 expect to arrive at KIV 10pm.
    Here is my initial plan :
    sleepover at shirakawa
    Should I change to :
    Sleepover at kanazawa instead?

  4. hello my name is Samuel and im from Indonesia
    im going to Japan at 13 January 2018
    and i want to go to Shirakawa Go at 17 January but i will stay at hotel at Kanazawa
    im going to kanazawa from osaka

    can you give me advice how to go to Shirakawa from osaka and from Kanazawa

    btw im staying at kanazawa for 1 day and the next day im going to Tokyo

    Thank you so much

  5. Hi,

    I am traveling on early January 2018. Please suggest transportation which convenient for these trip:
    3 Jan KIX-Kyoto
    4 Jan Kyoto
    5 Jan Kyoto – Kanazawa – Shirakawago ( return trip / one day trip)
    6 Jan Kyoto – Osaka
    7 Jan Osaka
    8 Jan Osaka – KIX

    thank you for your advise.


    1. Hi Edyth,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for the first 5 days.

      You can take a local train in Osaka and Kyoto to Osaka. But it does not cover any local trains in Kyoto. You may need to add extra ticket or other local deals.

      You can add other deal for the last day to KIX.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshi,

    Can you suggest what pass and transportation for below itinerary:

    28 Mar – Osaka
    29 Mar – Osaka
    30 Mar – Osaka
    31 Mar – Osaka – Shirakawago
    01 Apr – Shirakawago – Mt Fuji
    02 Apr – Mt Fuji – Tokyo
    03 Apr – Tokyo
    04 Apr – Tokyo
    05 Apr – Tokyo
    06 Apr – Tokyo to NRT Airport

    Thanks in advance.

    1. HI Tracy,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for the first 5 days.

      You can get Nagoya after visiting Shirakawago by this pass. But after Nagoya, you need to add single fare ticket. There is no deals cover Nagoya-Fuji-Tokyo.

      But you can find some deals in Tokyo and to Narita in the links below:


      Takeshi /

          1. Hi Takeshi,

            Is it recommended to use Hokuriku Arch Pass for below itinerary:

            31 Mar – Osaka to Kanazawa to Shirakawago
            01 Apr – Shirakawago to Kanazawa to Mt Fuji
            02 Apr – Mt Fuji to Tokyo
            03 Apr – Tokyo
            04 Apr – Tokyo
            05 Apr – Tokyo
            06 Apr – To NRT Airport

            Understand that the pass does not cover transportation to Mount Fuji but is there any transportation from Kanazawa to kawaguchiko station and Kawaguchiko Station to Ikebukuro station?

          2. Thanks for your reply Takeshi.

            What will be the best alternative to travel to Kawaguchiko after my stay in Shirakawago without having to go Tokyo first?

  7. Hi,

    Could you suggest which pass either train and or bus that we should take with the following itinerary :

    Day 1 – Osaka airport to Kanawaza
    Day 2 – Kanazawa to Toyama to Kanazawa
    Day 3 – Kanazawa to Shirakawago to Kanazawa
    Day 4 – Kanazawa to Hida Nosato to Takayama
    Day 5 – Takayama to Hida Furukawa to Takayama
    Day 6 – Takayama to Shinhoyaka ropeway to Takayama
    Day 7 – Takayama to Inuyama
    Day 8 – Inuyama
    Day 9 – Inuyama to Kyoto
    Day 10 – Kyoto
    Day 11 – Kyoto
    Day 12 – Kyoto (Kurama dan Kibune)
    Day 13 – Kyoto to Osaka airport

    So we intend to spend 3 nights in Kanazawa + 3 nights in Takayama + 2 nights in Inuyama + 4 nights in Kyoto

    Many thanks beforehand. Rgds, Saut

  8. hi i need your advice …

    im coing with my family on decemeber

    so here is my itenerary :
    25th arrive osaka evening ( overnight in osaka )
    26th depart to kyoto
    27th kyoto full day
    28th depart from kyoto to Shrikawago ( overnight in kanazawa)
    29th -31th cover kobe, nara himeji
    31-1th universal studio full day

    in your opinion which pass should i buy ? do u think it is wise for me to purchase JR pass to cover all these area ? Which JR pass should i purchase ?

    looking forward for your reply …apreaciate much of u can provide us some information on which pass we should get

    1. Hi Sherlyn,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for the first 5 days.

      For Kobe, Nara and Himeji, Kansai thru pass is most common choice.

      Single ticket is okay for access to USJ.

      If you arrive and depart at Kansai airport, please see the link to find the deal.

      Takayama Hokuriku area pass covers KIX to Osaka if you arrive there on 25th. You don’t need to buy any deals for arrival day.


      Takeshi /

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