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
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.
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.

Comments

  1. Jade Ng says:

    Hi Mr Takeshi

    Day 1- Kansai airport – Kyoto
    Day 2- Kyoto
    Day 3- Kyoto
    Day 4- Kyoto – Kanazawa – Shirakawago
    Day 5- Shirakawago – Kanazawa – Osaka
    Day 6- Osaka
    Day 7- Osaka
    Day 8- Osaka – Kansai airport

    I believed Takayama Hokuriku Pass is recommended for my itinerary? My concern is if the trip using Haruku Express from Kansai airport to Kyoto and Osaka to Kansai airport covered under that pass?

    Thank you !
    Jade

  2. YJ says:

    Hello!

    I will be traveling from Kyoto to Kanazawa , and I am looking at the Thunderbird Limited Express Train. Do you suggest I purchase them at the JR Ticket counter at Kansai Airport or at Kyoto Station itself? Am I able to purchase the return tickets at the same time, as I will be heading to Osaka from Kanazawa.

    I will also be going to Shirakawago for a day. Are the main attractions within walkable distance? Or do i need to travel internally by bus?

    Thank you!

  3. Jolene Teoh says:

    Hi, Mr Takeshi,
    I am having difficulties in determining the best 5 days route from KIX to Kanazawa/Takayama/Shirakawago/Gokayama/Kyoto.
    I intend to use the Takayama Hokuriku Tourist Area Pass when arriving at KIX at 3.25pm.
    Is it possible to reach Kanazawa on the same day as we arrive at KIX? With the full luggage how do we go to Shirakawago while on the way to Takayama ? Any suggestion to split the 4 nights between these two places?

    Appreciate your advice>

  4. Teck Wee says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I am travelling with my girlfriend and plan for the following route in Dec. Can you help to see if the following plan is feasible and what pass should we buy?
    26 Dec – reached Osaka early morning around 7am, kansai – Northern Kyoto + Central Kyoto
    27 Dec – Kyoto – Arashiyama (Western Kyoto)
    28 Dec – Kyoto – Southern Kyoto + Eastern Kyoto
    29 Dec – Kanazawa
    30 Dec – Shirakawago
    31 Dec – Osaka –Universal Studio (day trip)
    1 Jan – Osaka
    2 Jan – Home sweet home

  5. Pinkie says:

    Hi,

    me and my cousin are planning to visit Ogimachi next Wednesday from Toyoma.
    I want to make a seat reservation at the Nohi bus website but is only showing 1 seat available for all the time slots. Are there available buses from Toyoma to Ogimachi? is it possible also to just buy the tickets at Toyoma without reservations?

    Thanks a lot!

  6. Will says:

    Hi,

    Is this 1 day feasible for kyoto to shinagawa and return to kyoto?

    If planning to stay overnight, where would be better? Kanazawa, shirakawago or takayama?

    Can i see snow on 2nd or 3rd week of december?

    Thank you

    • Hi Will,

      >Is this 1 day feasible for kyoto to shinagawa and return to kyoto?
      It takes 2.5 hours one way from Kyoto to Shinagawa by Shinkansen. If you are okay to spend 5 hours for just moving, you can do it.

      >If planning to stay overnight, where would be better? Kanazawa, shirakawago or takayama?
      All places are good. But the accommodation in Shirakawago is very limited. Takayama and Kanazawa are easier to find the hotels.

      >Can i see snow on 2nd or 3rd week of december?
      Usually you can see it in Shirakawago.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Will says:

        Thank you Takeshi,

        Well visit Shinagawago by Dec 22 or 23, 2016 what are the chances of heavy snow in the area.

        During those period we will be coming from osaka. Any advise what route to take for 1 day? Im not sure if its better for osaka -> kanagawa route or osaka -> nagoya ->takayama

        How about overnight? If we want to make a loop?

        Lastly, is there a reservationof bus ticket from kanagawa and takayama?

        Thanks,

        Will

        • Hi Will,

          >Well visit Shinagawago by Dec 22 or 23, 2016 what are the chances of heavy snow in the area.
          It’s hard to say because of mother nature. I say 50:50.

          >During those period we will be coming from osaka. Any advise what route to take for 1 day? Im not sure if its better for osaka -> kanagawa route or osaka -> nagoya ->takayama
          Osaka-Kanazawa route is easier because it’s direct and shorter trip.

          >How about overnight? If we want to make a loop?
          It depends on what time you leave in Osaka. If you leave early morning in Osaka, you may go to Takayama first. Because you can see Takayama on arrival day and overnight there. And then you can see Shirakawago in the morning and Kanazawa in afternoon. You can take train to Osaka in late night. Train runs more frequently from Kanazawa and from Takayama.

          I don’t know what kind of rail pass you will use for this trip. But if you need the pass for this trip only, Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is only choice.
          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

          This pass does not cover Osaka-Nagoya-Takayama route. You have to take Osaka-Kanazawa route for both way. You can get Shirakawago and Takayama by this pass. But when you go back to Osaka from Takayama, you have to take the route via Toyama or Shirakawago. If you intend to use other passes, such as JR Pass, goget about this issue.

          >Lastly, is there a reservationof bus ticket from kanagawa and takayama?
          Please see the link below:
          https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/shirakawago.pdf

          If you use Takayama Hokuriku area pass, as far as I know, you cannot use online reservation. You have to make a call.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          • Will says:

            Hi Takeshi,

            Thank you for the informative reply. I more or less have a plan on what im going to do.

            Leave Osaka to Nagoya to Takayama early morning (Spend afternoon at Takayama), Overnight at Takayama

            Morning Stroll at Takayama then proceed to Shirakawago then to Kanazawa.

            Im not sure if were going to look around kanazawa as by my research i kinda leaning towards takayama better.

            Also how much time is enough to spend at Shirakawago? I saw tour package makes you go around for 2 hours. Is that enough?

            Lastly, i read that online booking is not yet possible but i saw this link https://japanbusonline.com/ in which i can make online reservation. Is this legit? Can i make reservation on that site and have a peace of mind?

            Thank you

            • Hi Will,

              Now you can book a bus to Shirakawago online. That site is the right place to book.

              You can skip Kanazawa if you like. Both Takayama and Kanazawa have very similar taste. In my opinion, 2 hours is minimum to see Shirakawago.

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Mary says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    we will be arriving in Kaisan Airport very early, below is out preliminary plan, need your advise what pass should we buy ? hope to hear from you soon.
    D1: kaisan Airport to Arashiyama – Kyoto
    D2: Kyoto – Arashiyama (Philosopher path, Maruyama Park..)
    D3 : Arashiyama – Kyoto (kodoiji temple, Maruyama Park, Fushimi Inari Shrine..)
    D4 : Kyoto – Himeji morning then head to Kurashiki and perhaps Okayama
    D5 : Kyoto – Osaka – Kobe
    D6 : Osaka – Nara (Deer ark) – Namba
    D 7: Osaka – Umeda + shopping
    D8 : Osaka Universal Studio
    D9 : Osaka, pokemon + Aquarium
    D10 : back home

    Thanks,
    Mary

  8. sari says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I also planning a day trip to visit shirakawago from Osaka. But I heard from Osaka we can take JR to Nagoya and take a bus there to Shirakawa-go. Do you think it is also possible? which one is better? I’m planning to buy JR Pass.
    so the rute will be from Osaka take JR to Nagoya and take a bus there. Bus leaves Nagoya at 9.00 and arrives at Shirakawa-go at 11.53. Returning bus leaves Shirakawa-go 15.35 and arrives Nagoya 18.36.

    Need your suggestion Please.

    thanks
    -sari-

    • Hi Sari,

      If you use JR pass, Kanazawa route is better because of bus fare.
      Nagoya – Shirakawago 7,200 yen return
      Kanazawa – Shirakawago 3,290 yen return

      JR pass covers the train either Osaka-Kanazawa or Osaka-Nagoya.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Ismawati says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I’m having difficulty to plan on my route. I bought flight ticket to Kansai Airport and arrival on 5th April 2017 early in the morning at 7.15am. I am planning to visit Osaka, Himeiji, Kobe, Koyasan, Kyoto, Nara and Wakayama. At the same time plan to have a trip to Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Gokayama and Takayama. Total number of stays will be up to 10th April and continue journey 1 day trip/stay at Nagoya on 11th April 2017. Planning to take a night bus on 11th April to Tokyo.

    I’m confuse which ticket/pass good for me. Kansai Thru Pass is actually in my list to visit all the mention above. But I am stuck on a trip to Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Gokayama and Takayama. Can you please help me with a good plan for this trip? Appreciate your help.

    Thank you in advance 🙂

  10. Serene says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    We are family of 4 and plan for the following route in Nov. Please help if its feasible and what pass should we buy ?
    D1 – reached Osaka early morning around 7am, kansai – Kyoto
    D2 – Kyoto
    D3 – Kyoto – Kinosaki (stay one night)
    D4 – Kinosaki – Osaka
    D5 – Mitsu Outlet
    D6 – Osaka – Kobe + Himeji (day trip)+nissin ramen museum
    D7 – Osaka – Nara + Namba (day trip)
    D8 – Osaka –Universal Studio (day trip)
    D9 – Osaka – Umeda + shopping
    D10 – Osaka – Kansai airport
    Thanks,

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