kanazawa kenrokuen

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 understand that some of you do not agree. Because you will travel with the huge luggage and it may be issue for you.

Thus the 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 as one day trip?

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

From Osaka/Kyoto to Kanazawa

Osaka 7:00 / Shin-Osaka 7:04 / Kyoto 7:29 – (The Limited Express Thunderbird 1) – Kanazawa 9:38

The limited express Thunderbird takes you to Kanazawa directly.

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 the 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 13:10 – (Nohi Bus) – Shirakawago 14:25
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 whole part of the village of 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 19:47 – (The Limited Express Thunderbird 46) – Kyoto 22:03 / Shin-Osaka 22:27 / Osaka 22:31
Kanazawa 20:47 – (The Limited Express Thunderbird 48) – Kyoto 23:00 / Shin-Osaka 23:24 / Osaka 23:28

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 19:47. You can grab some foods at Kanazawa station and eat on board. On board sales is not available in the limited express Thunderbird. Don’t forget to grab it before getting on the limited express Thunderbird.

Suggested deal

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

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

Other rail passes in Kansai area, like Kansai Area Pass, Kansai Thru Pass, Kansai Wide Area Pass are not recommended for this itinerary. Those deals 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 the timetable of March 2019. When you use this sample itinerary, please check the updated timetable.

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

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

  1. hi, i would like to go to Shirakawago from Kyoto in end of May. I have 3 adults and 3 kids. Should i drive or take train there? i plan to take train from Kyoto to Kanazawa, then rent a car to Shirakawago and back. Will stay one night at Kanazawa (or should i stay in Shirakawago)? my next destination is Tokyo.

    Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Evelyn,

      Unfortunately I have not driven in Japan for the last 10 years. So I cannot compare train and drive.

      You can make a day trip to Shirakawago from Kanazawa. If you want to stay in Shirakawago, that’s okay. But Kanazawa is much bigger city and much easier to find the accommodation.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hello Takeshi-san,
    What tickets or passes do we need to go to Shirakawa-Go from Osaka for a day trip only? Can we reserve seats on the train and bus at this time? We hope you can help us with our question.
    Best regards!

    1. Hi Hazel san,

      Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass is recommended. This deal is valid for 5 days. But it is still cheaper than the cost of this day trip. Please see the link below to find more info about this pass:
      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 have to reserve your seat for Nohi bus between Kanazawa and Shirakawago. Reservation is required to take this bus. Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass covers this bus trip but you have to make a call to reserve. You cannot do it online. Please see the link below to find the phone number. You have to do it ASAP:
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/shirakawago.pdf

      You can book a train seat by this pass too. It’s covered. But you don’t need to do it. You can do it after you arrive in Japan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi,

    I planned to go kanazawan and shirakawago from tokyo day trip and proceed to osaka.
    Which pass shall i purchase?

  4. Dear Takeshi,

    Good day to you.

    Day 1 – Arrived at Kansai Airport to Hotel in Shin Osaka / sightseeing in Osaka
    Day 2 – To Universal Studio, Osaka
    Day 3 – From Osaka to Kyoto (Day trip)
    Day 4 – From Osaka to Shirakawa-go (stay 1 night)
    Day 5 – From Shirakawa-go – Nagoya – Shin-Osaka
    Day 6 – From Osaka – Kobe – Osaka
    Day 7 – Osaka
    Day 8 – from Shin-osaka To Kansai Airport

    What’s the best pass shall I buy for my trip ?
    Thanks for your help in advance.

    Regards,
    Jaycelyn

    1. Hi Jaycelyn,

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

      However you have to add other deal for sightseeing in Kyoto and deal/ticket for Nagoya to Shin-Osaka. You can get Kyoto from Osaka by this pass. But this pass does not cover any local transportation. Please see the link below to find the deal. Kyoto city bus pass is most recommended:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      This pass does not cover Nagoya to Shin-Osaka route. You need a regular ticket or Platt Kodama. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      For the trip to Kobe, single ticket or Hanshin tourist pass is your choice.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/osaka-kyoto-kobe-and-nara/guide-to-take-trains-in-kobe-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      If you use a regular ticket, you may add Kansai one pass instead.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/what-is-ic-card-suica-icoca-pasmo-how-to-use-these-cards.html

      For staying in Osaka, please see the link below:
      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/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    Good day to you.

    I am planning to Osaka/Shirakawago/Kyoto/Nara from 24 May till 1 Jun next year and below is my draft itinerary, would appreciate if you can advise me what is the best route and tourist pass to use? was thinking to go Nagoya after Shirakawago but afraid not enough time.

    24 May Arrived Kansai Airport at night, plan to stay a night in Kansai
    25 May Depart to Shirakawago from Kansai, plan to stay a night in Shirakawago
    26 May Leave Shirakawago in the late afternoon to Kyoto, plan to stay 2 nights in Kyoto
    28 May Leave Kyoto to Osaka
    29 May Day trip in Osaka for site seeing
    30 May Depart to Nara for Day trip, evening back to Osaka
    31 May – 1 Jun Osaka

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Sam,

      You can use Takayama Hokuriku area pass for May 25 to 29.
      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

      Please take same route as the sample day trip itinerary in the post above. You can get Shin-Osaka from Kansai airport by limited express Haruka. And then change to limited express Thunderbird to Kanazawa at Shin-Osaka.
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/kansai-airport-limited-express-haruka.html

      This pass does not cover any local transportation in Kyoto. I recommend you to add city bus pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      No deals are available for trip to Nara. You may be able to use other deal to get back to KIX. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi,

    Our routes are Osaka/Kyoto, Kanazawa and Shirakawago for our trip. I know the Takayama Hokuriku area pass can cover this but I would like to clarify:

    1. Does it cover Osaka – Kyoto train and back?
    Planning to just buy a 1 day Kyoto subway + city bus pass to cover kyoto.
    2. Does it cover JR trains in Osaka city area as well as to Universal Studios?

    thanks for your help!

      1. Thank you so much for your quick reply. I was planning to buy the 7 day JR PASS but our trip will be from Christmas ’til New Year and I’m afraid I might not be able to reserve seats if we go from Osaka to Tokyo vice versa during the EOY period. I saw the JAL Explorer Pass or ANA Discover pass roundtrip which was a good deal + the Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass which can cover our trip to Shirakawago. Price is about the same as the 7 Day JR Pass. Do you think we should just get this to secure seats to and from Osaka/Tokyo?

        Also when you say unreserved seats, does that mean we can just hop on a train and not go to any JR train counter?

        Again, thank you so much.

        1. Hi Vivian,

          Christmas is not very busy day in Japan but before/after New Year’s day is super busy. Please see the link below to find more info:
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/2018-busiest-period-to-travel-by-train-tips-to-book-your-seat-in-even-busy-period.html

          In regards to non reserved seat, you can hop on the train without reservation as you think. But your seat is not secured. You may have to stand up. Please see the link below:
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/reserved-seat-vs-non-reserved-seat-how-to-get-a-seat-on-non-reserved-car.html

          Flight Pass is a good idea to secure the seat. But airport is not located in the city center. You have to take train or bus and need to pay extra on top of flight pass. If you use JR Pass, you can get city center much easier. Most of domestic travelers prefer to take Shinkansen because it’s more convenient and faster than flight.

          So check the travel date again and if you travel on super busy day, you should take the flight to secure the seat. Otherwise use JR pass to take trains.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Thanks Takeshi, once last question. If we go by Japan Rail Pass, do you think we will have trouble reserving tickets on Dec 28 or Dec 29 from Osaka to Kanazawa and Kanazawa to Tokyo?

            1. Hi Vivian,

              Train will start to get busier from the evening on 28th. 29th will be one of the busiest days. It will be hard to book a seat especially for 29th. I strongly recommend you to travel on 28th.

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    I’m planning a 9-day trip covering Osaka, Kyoto, Arashiyama, Shirakawago and Hiroshima/Miyajima. I’ll be flying in and out from Osaka.

    Day 1: Osaka airport to Kyoto
    Day 2, 3 and 4: Kyoto, Arashiyama and maybe Kurama/Kibune)
    Day 5: Day trip to Shirakawago from Kyoto
    Day 6: Osaka
    Day 7: Day trip to Hiroshima/Miyajima
    Day 8 and 9: Osaka

    I’m trying to decide between getting (a) both the Hiroshima Area Pass and the Takayama Hokuriku Pass and (b) 7-day JR pass. Which would be a better option or do you have other recommendations?

    Thanks very much in advance for your help!

    1. Hi N,

      Kansai Hiroshima area pass + Takayama Hokuriku area pass are your choice. It’s cheaper than JR pass even though it includes Nohi bus to Shirakawago. JR pass does not.

      You can start using Takayama Hokuriku area pass on day 1. But you need to add some fares or other deals in Kyoto. Because this pass does not cover any local transportation in Kyoto, even JR local trains to Arashiyama. Please see the link below to find the deals in Kyoto.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      If you go to Shirakawago on day 2, 3 or 4, you can have one day in Kyoto on day 5. You can start using Kansai Hiroshima area pass on this day. This pass covers JR local train to Arashiyama, Nijo, Fushimi and Uji.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-kyoto-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      But this pass does not cover city bus, subway and non JR trains either.

      In Osaka, Kansai Hiroshima area pass covers local trains.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-osaka-how-to-choose-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Dear Takeshi,

    Good day to you.
    I am planning to Osaka/Kyoto/Toyama on 12 Apr till 21 Apr and below is my itinerary;
    12 Apr to 15 Apr Osaka/Kobe (Himeji)
    15 Apr to 18 Apr Kanazawa/Toyama/Shirakawago
    18 Apr to 21 Apr Osaka/Kyoto

    I have no issue to travel at Osaka/Kobe & Kyoto, however need your advice what is the best route to travel around at Toyama to Shirakawago?
    Is it I should use Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass? Whereby I can travel around Osaka/Kyoto/Kanazawa/Toyama/Shirakawago?
    For bus to Shirakawago, do I need to reserve seat online?

    Appreciated your help on this, thank you in advance

    Regards
    Kim

    1. Hi Kim,

      Takayama Hokuriku area pass is the best deal for the trip to Kanazawa, Toyama 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

      However this pass does not cover the bus route between Toyama and Shirakawago. Only the route between Kanazawa and Shirakawago or between Shin-Takaoka and Shirakawago are covered.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-get-shirakawa-go-%E7%99%BD%E5%B7%9D%E9%83%B7.html

      So if you want to take a bus from Toyama, you need to pay separately. If you do not want to pay extra, take a bus from Kanazawa or Shin-Takaoka.
      If you take a bus from Kanazawa or Toyama, reservation is required. Please see the link below:
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/shirakawago.pdf

      Reservation is not required to take a bus from Shin-Takaoka.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshi,

    Does the T-H JR pass guarantee you a reservation for the Nohi bus from kanazawa to shirakawago if you call Nohi reservation hotline?

    1. Hi LDG,

      If you make a call, you can reserve your seat over the phone. Even if you do not exchange the pass yet, you can make a call from your country. It may be too late to book after you arrive in Japan. This pass does not guarantee a seat. You must make a call.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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