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)

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    We plan to visit Kanazawa-Shirakawa-go-Takayama from Kyoto using the Takayama Hokiruku Pass, staying 2 nights at Kanazawa. The following is our itinerary:

    Day 1 – Kyoto to Kanazawa via Thunderbird.
    Day 2 – Kanazawa-Shirakawa-go-Takayama via Nohi bus. Return trip to Kanazawa from Takayama via Nohi bus.
    Day 3 – Kanazawa – Kyoto via Thunderbird. Kyoto – Osaka via local train.

    I understand that I have to call for reservation on the Nohi bus and I’ve been studying the schedule. This is the possible bus schedule that we can follow:

    Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go: 9:10-10:35
    Shirakawa-go to Takayama: 13:30-14:20
    Takayama to Kanazawa: 16:30-18:45

    1. Is my understanding of the schedule correct?
    2. The pass covers Kyoto-Osaka local train, right?

    Thank you very much.


    1. Hi Hd,

      Your trip plan is good. But if you stay in Takayama a little bit more, you can take the train from Takayama to Toyama and Toyama to Kanazawa.
      The limited express Wide View Hida departs from Takayama at 17:19 and arrive in Toyama at 18:52. You can take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Toyama to Kanazawa. The Shinkansen runs very frequently. The train on the Hokuriku Shinkansen comes usually every 20 to 30 minutes. It takes 20 minutes from Toyama to Kanazawa. Of course this route is covered by Takayama Hokuriku Area tourist pass and you can get another 45 minutes in Takayama. If you want to go back to Kanazawa earlier, you can keep your trip plan. This is one of the suggestions.

      You can take the local train from Kyoto to Osaka. You can take the limited express Thunderbird as well even though it’s such a short ride.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Thank you for your reply. I think I will go with your suggestion to stay longer in Kanazawa, take the Wide View Hida to Toyama and then the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa.

        Thanks again.

        Best regards,

  2. Hi Takeshi
    Thank you for your reply.
    We have made some slight changes to our itinerary:

    Day 1 24 Dec Nagoya
    Day 2 25 Dec Takayama and stay a night at Okuhida area
    Day 3 26 Dec Shirikawago, Kanazawa (stay a night)
    Day 4 27 Dec Toyama and then back to Kanazawa
    Day 5 28 Dec Kyoto
    Day 6 29 Dec Kyoto
    To cover Arashiyama, Kinkaku- ji temple, Nijo castle, Higashiyama, Kiyomizudera, Ginkaku-ji, Fushimi Inari, not sure about Uji
    Day 7 30 Dec Nara, Osaka
    Day 8 31 Dec Osaka
    To cover Namba, Dotonbori, Houzenji, Shinsaibashi, Umeda, Osakajo,
    Shinsekai and maybe instant ramen musuem
    Day 9 1 Jan Board shinkansen unreserved seat from Shin Osaka to Nagoya. It will not be difficult I hope.
    Day 10 2 Jan Nagoya
    Day 11 3 Jan Departure

    1. Takayama Hokuriku area pass for day 2 to 5?
    2. Will the train be difficult to board to Kyoto on the 28th?
    3. Do we use Kansai thru pass 1 or 2 days and add on Icoca card for Kyoto and Osaka?
    4. Can this Icoca card be used in Nagoya?
    Looking forward to your advice and comments. Thanks Takeshi.


    1. Hi Sc,

      1. Yes.
      2. It will be busy day but the train to Kyoto is much slower than train from Kyoto. I believe you will be okay.
      3. There is no one day Kansai thru pass. 2-day is minimum but you cannot get the worth of it. Actually Kansai one pass is better than ICOCA. Both are basically same but Kansai one pass offers discount at many attractions in Kansai area.
      4. You may use it in Nagoya. But Kansai one pass includes 500 yen deposit. If you want to refund this deposit, you have to spend all funds before you leave Osaka and Kyoto, and return the card before you go to Nagoya. You cannot get the refund in Nagoya. It is possible in Osaka/Kyoto area only.
      If you don’t care about the deposit, just keep the card and use it in Nagoya.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thanks Takeshi for your prompt reply.

        Please clarify what has been suggested in your reply:
        1. Throughout our stay in Kyoto, Osaka and visit to Nara, we will use the kansai one pass?
        2. On day 9 which is 1 Jan, we will buy unreserved shinkansen seats from Shin-Osaka to Nagoya?

        I have gone through some of your other recommendations and hope you can comment on the following:
        3. We may stay in Kyoto for the entire time rather than move to Osaka. We arrive in Kyoto on day 5 (28 Dec). We will likely leave our stuff at the hotel and move on to Osaka for a day trip. Can I assume that Takayama Hokuriku Area (THA) pass will cover the train rides from Kyoto to Osaka and back to Kyoto?
        4. THA will also cover the train rides on Osaka Loop on day 5?
        5. We will visit the tourist attractions in Kyoto on day 6 and 7.
        We will then make a day trip to Nara and Osaka again on day 8. So for these days do we buy the kansai one pass?
        6. On 1 Jan, do you suggest that we get the platt kodama and depart from Kyoto to Nagoya or still buy shinkansen unreserved seats and depart from Kyoto to Nagoya?
        Thanks Takeshi.

        1. Hi Sc,

          1. Yes.
          2. Yes.
          3. Yes. You can take even the limited express trains, such as Haruka, Thunderbird. But it does not cover the Shinkansen.
          4. Yes.
          5. It’s up to you. Kansai one pass does not give you the unlimited ride. It offers convenience and discount at many attractions. In the trains fare, Kansai one pass is same as using regular fare. So if you don’t want to buy a ticket one by one, you can use this card.
          6. Platt Kodama is slightly cheaper. But you MUST take the assigned train. The train and the seat will be fixed if you use Platt Kodama. If you use unreserved seat, you can buy it even the day of travel at Kyoto station and you can take any trains on January 1st. So if you want the flexibility, regular unreserved seat is better.


          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Thanks Takeshi for your reply.

            1. What happens if all the Nohi buses are booked on the 25th to Shrikawago or Kanazawa?
            2. If we leave Shrikawago at around 4plus in the evening, presume it gets dark by then, will we missing out on the scenery on the way to Kanazawa?


  3. Hi Takeshi

    Thank you for your reply.
    1. What pass do I need to buy to visit most of the usual tourist attractions in Kyoto including a visit to Nara? I may check out of the hotel in Kyoto and visit Nara on day 6 and proceed to Osaka ( we will have 2 and a half day in both Kyoto and Osaka) . So I will need to store my luggage somewhere to visit Nara? Is traveling on 29th dec very busy?

    2. Also in Osaka, what pass will be suitable to use to visit most of the tourist attractions including Kobe and Himeji?

    3. Do I take the Shinkansen to Nagoya from Shin-Osaka? Will there be more unreserved seats available from Shin-Osaka?

    4. Are there any other trains besides the shinkansen from Nagoya to Osaka?

    5. Is there space in the Nohi bus for luggage?
    Sorry, so many questions. Thanks Takeshi.


    1. Hi Sc,

      In regards to the deal for Kyoto, Nara and Kobe, Kansai thru pass is the best deal:

      You may add other deal in Kyoto and Osaka. Please see the links below:

      29th will be busy but you will be in Kyoto and Osaka area. It doesn’t matter. Non reserved seat is easier to get at Shin-Osaka. Please read the links which I gave you in the previous reply if you need more info:

      Kintetsu railway is other choice:

      Nohi bus is a highway coach. It has some luggage compartments.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi
    My family and I will be arriving in Nagoya on 24th Dec
    This is our itinerary:-
    Day 1 24 Dec Nagoya
    Day 2 25 Dec Takayama, we plan to stay in Okuida onsen
    Day 3 26 Dec Shrikawago, Kanazawa (1 night in Kanazawa)
    Day 4 27 Dec Kyoto
    Day 5 28 Dec Kyoto (Nara)
    Day 6 29 Dec Kyoto
    Day 7 30 Dec Osaka
    Day 8 31 Dec Osaka (maybe visit Kobe, Himeji)
    Day 9 1 Jan Nagoya
    Day 10 2 Jan Magome
    Day 11 3 Jan Depart from Nagoya for home
    Pls advise on the following:-
    1. The types of passes we need to buy for our itinerary.
    2. Should we get Takayama Hokuriku area pass for day 2 to 4?
    Also they allow 4 reservations, does this include the bus to Shirikawago and Kanazawa? Since we can only activate our passes when we get to Nagoya on the 24th, will it be difficult to get reserve seats on the 25th and 27th Dec?
    3. Will all tourist atttactions close when we are in Osaka or Kyoto?
    4. How do we go back to Nagoya and to be sure of getting seats which is better, to go back to Nagoya from Osaka or Kyoto? Then I have to change day 4 and 5 Osaka and day 6 to 8 Kyoto.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Sc,

      1. You can use Takayama Hokuriku area tourist pass as you think for day 2 to 4.

      2. It does not include 4 times reservation. 4 time reservation is applied to the train seat reservation only. You can book a seat for Nohi bus to Shirakawago over the phone before you come to Japan. Unfortunately online is not available this pass user. You must make a call.

      3. No. It will be open as usual. But on 31st Dec, some of them will be closed earlier.

      4. It doesn’t matter if you reserve your seat on the Shinkansen. If you take a seat in non reserved car, Osaka is better. But January 1st is very slow day. It’s not hard to book a seat.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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