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

kanazawa kenrokuen1 to 3 days
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 6:30 / Shin-Osaka 6:34 / Kyoto 6:59 – (The Limited Express Thunderbird 1) – Kanazawa 9:13

The limited express Thunderbird takes you to Kanazawa directly.

I recommend you to see Kanazawa first. The next bus leave for Shirakawago at 9:40. You can catch this bus easily in 30 minutes. But if you go to Shirakawago first, you come back Kanazawa around 15:00. It is a bit late to see this town because some of attractions are closed around 17:00. If you focus on Shirakawago more, you can go to Shirakawago right after you arrive in Kanazawa. Please find the timetable of the bus to Shirakawago in Nohi bus official site:

Nohi Bus official site

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

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 13:10 is 14:40 departure from Kanazawa and arrival Shirakawago at 15:05. This is still okay. It depends on which place you want to see more. You can adjust as you like.

Go back to Osaka or Kyoto from Kanazawa

Kanazawa station was renovated before Hokuriku Shinkansen opened.

The last Thunderbird to Osaka leave Kanazawa at 20:47. There are some more trains before this. You can pick which departure you like. Please find the timetable of the limited express Thunderbird in the link below:

Due to COVID-19, it may be operated on a schedule different from the normal timetable. Check the train schedule on Hyperdia.
Hyperdia perfect guide, train timetable and route search engine

So if you want to eat dinner in the restaurant, you can take the last train. 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. 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 Tourist Pass is most recommended. This pass is valid for 5 days. 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 JR Pass or Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass or Hokuriku Arch Pass, you can use the pass to get Kanazawa by the limited express Thunderbird. But Nohi Bus to Shirakawago is not covered by these passes.

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 September 2019. When you use this sample itinerary, please check the updated timetable.


  1. Jaclyn says:

    We are family of 3 and plan for the following route in Nov. Please help if its feasible and shall we buy JR pass?
    D1 – reached Osaka late nite
    D2 – Osaka – Namba
    D3 – Karazawa – Shirakawa-go (day trip)
    D4 – Karazawa – Takayama, Alpine route (day trip)
    D5 – Karazawa/ Osaka
    D6 – Osaka – Nara (day trip)
    D7 – Osaka – Kobe (day trip)
    D8 – Osaka – Hiroshima (day trip)
    D9 – Osaka – Universal Studio
    D10 – Osaka – Umeda
    D11 – Osaka
    D12 – Osaka
    D13 – Osaka/ Kyoto
    D14 – Kyoto
    D15 – Kyoto
    D16 – Kyoto – Kansai airport

    Thank you in advance.


  2. SS says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I will go to Osaka this mid November for 8 days 7 nights. I wish to cover Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and Shirakawago. May I know how to plan is the best.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi SS,

      All places are covered in 8 days. You can visit all places from Osaka as day trip. But if you have extra time, I recommend you to stay one night in Kanazawa or Shirakawago.


      Takeshi /

  3. Lusi says:

    Hi Takeshi San,
    I plan to go to Shiwakarago from Kyoto/Osaka. And I plan to stay at Shiwakarago 1 night. Can you help me to arrange the itin and tranport and price (we dont use jr pass)


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Lusi san,

      You may use the itinerary above. Just add stay in Shirakawago. All resources, such as the way to check the timetable, are shown in the post above. Actually I don’t make an itinerary personally as I mention above comment section.
      Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is recommended for this trip and it’s cheaper than single fare.


      Takeshi /

  4. Lee says:

    Hi Takeshi San,
    I plan to go Japan for 8 days. I will fly in to Tokyo and fly out from Osaka. I plan to go the following places.
    Tokyo Disney Land
    Mount Fuji and Hakone
    Osaka Universal Studio
    Where I suppose to stay so I safe our journey to transfer.

  5. may says:

    Need your advice on our first trip :
    Reach Tokyo 6pm, plan to go Takayama direct, overnight Takayama
    Day 1 Explore Takayama , travel to Toyama overnight
    Day 2 Explore Toyama, travel to Kanazawa
    Day 3 Explore Shirawago, overnight Kanazawa (join day tour or go on own by bus?)
    Day 4 Travel to Namba, explore Kobe/Osaka/Himeiji, overnight Namba
    Day 5 Continue explore Osaka/Kobe, travel to Kyoto, overnight Namba
    Day 6 Continue to Kyoto, overnight
    Day 7 Travel to Shinjuku overnight
    Day 8 Explore Shinjuku, night flight back

    JR pass better deal? Is above plan feasible considering the travelling time?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi May,

      First of all, you cannot make Takayama on arrival day. If you take a train. 19:43 departure from Nagoya is the last one to get Takayama. It takes 2 hours from Tokyo to Nagoya. And you will spend one hour to clear custom and immigration after arrival. And also you will spend 30 minutes from Haneda or 1 hour from Narita to downtown Tokyo. So it’s impossible.

      So you have to leave early morning in Tokyo on day 1 of your plan. You will be Takayama around noon. You can get Toyama after sightseeing in Takayama. And you can catch up with your original schedule.

      On day 4, it’s very tight. you can do only Himeji and Kobe. You can explore Osaka after arrival your hotel in Namba in night time if you like.

      Other part of your trip is okay. And JR Pass 7 days pass is the best choice for day 1 to 7. You can use subway pass or single fare on day 8.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshi,

    It’s so good to see this site. My wife and I have been searching for a trip going to Mt. Fuji. I would like to ask you an itinerary from Osaka, where we are, going to Mt.Fuji – roundtrip on the second day.. Can you tell us also how much fare are we going to pay if we take the Bullet Train? Also, can you give us an advice what hotel is the cheapest to check-in for 2 days and 1 night in Mt.Fuji area. We are planning to see the place on July 7 to 8, 2016. Please give us a great deal and what places aside from Mt.Fuji that we can see during our 2 days stay..

    Thank you very much, Takeshi.



  7. kerry lam says:

    I have been trying to locate the Nohi online reservation for the day trip bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawago as per your iterary above fir the day trip
    We are a group of 10 pax taking Thunderbird from Kyoto to Kanazawa .

    Please advice as I can only find telephone no at their website and even if I can, there might be communication problem.


  8. Hi Takeshi-san,

    May I check with you which pass is better for my plan below.

    Day 1 : Osaka (KIX) to Kanazawa (day trip), then from Kanazawa to Shirakawago. 1 night in Shirakawago.
    Day 2 : Shirakaway go to Takayama, 1 night in Takayama.
    Day 3 : Takayama to Kyoto.
    Day 4 : Kyoto to Himeji (day trip), back to Kyoto in the afternoon
    Day 5 : Kyoto to visit Arashiyama & Kinkakuji
    Day 6 : Kyoto to Osaka (visit around Osaka Namba & Shisaibashi Area)
    Day 7 : Osaka to KIX Airport

    For my itinerary, should I buy Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass for the 7 days trip or Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass (5 days) + Haruka ICOCA (1 way)

    Thank you!!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Joanne san,

      I recommend you to use Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass. Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is very nice but it does not cover Himeji. ICOCA and Haruka one way is available for KIX to Osaka/Kyoto only. You cannot use it for other direction. So even though you have to pay bus fare for Kanazawa-Shirakawago-Takayama on top of the pass, Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass is better choice.


      Takeshi /

      • Hi Takeshi-san,

        Thank you for your suggestion. So if I dont go to Himeji then Takayama Hokuriki Area Pass will be a better deal. If that is the case means I will just need to buy ICOCA card for me to travel from Osaka City to Airport on my last day?

        Am I right that ICOCA Card is the best solution I have?

        May I check with you which pass is better for my plan below.

        Day 1 : Osaka (KIX) to Kanazawa (day trip), then from Kanazawa to Shirakawago. 1 night in Shirakawago.
        Day 2 : Shirakaway go to Takayama, 1 night in Takayama.
        Day 3 : Takayama to Kyoto.
        Day 4 : Kyoto
        Day 5 : Kyoto to visit Arashiyama & Kinkakuji
        Day 6 : Kyoto to Osaka (visit around Osaka Namba & Shisaibashi Area)
        Day 7 : Osaka to KIX Airport

        Thank you!!

  9. ymskrox
    Liyan says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks for the info!

    As I will be going to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto. Which do you think is the best route or shortest/ convenient way to go Shirakawago?

    Thank you!


  10. Sandy says:

    Hi Takeshi!

    I will be taking the Ltd. Thunderbird from Kanazawa to Shin-Osaka before continuing to Kansai Airport. I just want to ask you if the green class seats will be available on 27 of December for 4 people since it is in end of the year and I cannot book the seat in advance.


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