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)

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

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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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