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)

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I am using Takayama Hokuriku area pass. I am heading back to Kyoto from Takayama and my route is: Takayama to Kanazawa via Toyama then Kanzawa to Kyoto via LTD. EXP THUNDERBIRD 34. Is it right? Do/Can I need to reserve seats?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Felicia,

      This route is covered fully. Reservation is not required. But the pass allows you to book a seat up to 4 times. If you didn’t book a seat, you still can book without free of charge. You can book all at Takayama station.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi-san,

    My name is TS from Malaysia, our family with 5 adults plan the following trip to Osaka-Kyoto this coming Dec 10 to 15. Our plan is as follow at the moment,

    10th – Osaka KIX to Kyoto, arrive at 6am from Malaysia.
    11th – Kyoto
    12th – Kyoto – Takayama and Shirakawa-go (day trip or overnight)
    13th – Osaka
    14th – Osaka – Nara
    15th – Osaka

    Is the JR Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass cover all the trip mean from KIX to Kyoto by JR?

    What is the recommendation on 12th, should stay 1 night in Takayama?

    1. Hi TS san,

      You can use Takayama Hokuriku area pass from KIX to Kyoto. You can take direct express train Haruka by this pass.

      But any local transportation is not covered by this pass in Kyoto. You need to add city deal:

      As you read the post above, you can get Shirakawago from Kanazawa as day trip. But you cannot visit Takayama as day trip. You need to stay in Takayama, Shirakawago or Kanazawa. And also when you go to Takayama, most common way is Kyoto-Nagoya-Takayama route. But this pass does not cover Kyoto to Nagoya direct route. You need to go through Kanazawa and Toyama (or Shirakawago).


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,

        Thanks for your advise, really appreciates.

        Understand for Nouhi bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go or Takayama to Shirakawa-go, require reservation, correct? How could we do it and do we need to make the reservation few day in advance?

        Just to confirm, by using the Takayama Hokuriku area pass, to Nagoya, will need to travel from Kyoto-Kanazawa-Toyama- Nagoya, correct?


  3. Hi Takeshi,
    need your advice for my below itinerary:

    day 1 arrive and stay in Tokyo
    day 2 Tokyo – kyoto
    day 3 kyoto , stay at osaka
    day 4 osaka
    day 5 osaka-kanazawa-shirakawa go-osaka (as your one day plan)
    day 6 osaka-tokyo
    day 7 tokyo
    day 8 Tokyo – mt.fuji (Kawaguchiko or hakone ?)
    do you suggest for a night stay or day trip?
    day 9 – day 12

    any other cities you can suggest to explore within 12 days travel in Japan?

    Thanks in advance

  4. Hi Takeshi,
    We in a group of 5 adults and 2 kids are planning for the below itinerary in Dec 22-29:
    Day 1-4 Staying in Kyoto; day trip to Osaka/Kobe/Nara
    Day 5-7 Staying in Kanazawa; day trip to Takayama
    Day 8 Back to Osaka, heading to Kansai International Airport, departing at 4pm

    Could you give us some suggestion and advice on the transportation please?

    1. Hi Lim,

      If you arrive in KIX on day 1, you may use ICOCA and Haruka for KIX to Kyoto.

      You can add Kansai one pass instead of ICOCA. It’s same type of card as ICOCA but it offers discount at many attractions.

      Kids deal is not available for ICOCA and Haruka. Kansai area pass is substitute deal.

      Kansai one pass is not available for kids either. Child ICOCA is substitute.

      You may use ICOCA and Kansai one pass for sightseeing in Kyoto. For trip to Nara and Kobe, Kansai area pass is the choice. So kids will take 3 days Kansai area pass for the first 3 days.

      For the last 5 days, Takayama Hokuriku area pass is the choice.

      You can use this deal for trip to Osaka on day 4.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Due to time constrain, we have decided to drop the day trip to Takayama from Kanazawa on Day 6. Instead, we will stay 2 nights at Kanazawa and plan a day trip to Shirakawago.
        Day 1-4 Kyoto/Nara/Kobe
        Day 5-6 Kanazawa/Shirakawago (day trip)
        Day 7-8 Osaka
        Just to confirm in this case (changes to drop Takayama from the original plan), should we take the Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass instead of the Takayama-Hokuriku area pass for saving more cost?
        To be advised.
        Many thanks in advance!

        Best regards,

        1. Hi Lim,

          I think Takayama Hokuriku area pass is still the best choice. If you buy Kansai Hokuriku area pass, it covers Kobe and Nara. But it covers only JR trains. It does not cover any subway and city bus. And most important thing is Nohi bus. This pass does not cover it and it costs 3290 yen. You will get the 7 days coverage but you need to pay 18290 yen. You may need to add some more fares to take bus and subways.

          Takayama Hokuriku area pass is valid for 5 days and not cover Kobe and Nara. But it covers Nohi bus at 14000 yen. The price difference is 4290 yen. You can add Kansai thru pass 2 days at 4000 yen. It covers Kobe and Nara. And it covers subway and city bus too. I think this combination is better than Kansai Hokuriku area pass.


          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi,

    I will be travelling to Osaka 12jan18 expect to arrive at KIV 10pm.
    Here is my initial plan :
    sleepover at shirakawa
    Should I change to :
    Sleepover at kanazawa instead?

  6. hello my name is Samuel and im from Indonesia
    im going to Japan at 13 January 2018
    and i want to go to Shirakawa Go at 17 January but i will stay at hotel at Kanazawa
    im going to kanazawa from osaka

    can you give me advice how to go to Shirakawa from osaka and from Kanazawa

    btw im staying at kanazawa for 1 day and the next day im going to Tokyo

    Thank you so much

  7. Hi,

    I am traveling on early January 2018. Please suggest transportation which convenient for these trip:
    3 Jan KIX-Kyoto
    4 Jan Kyoto
    5 Jan Kyoto – Kanazawa – Shirakawago ( return trip / one day trip)
    6 Jan Kyoto – Osaka
    7 Jan Osaka
    8 Jan Osaka – KIX

    thank you for your advise.


    1. Hi Edyth,

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

      You can take a local train in Osaka and Kyoto to Osaka. But it does not cover any local trains in Kyoto. You may need to add extra ticket or other local deals.

      You can add other deal for the last day to KIX.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    Can you suggest what pass and transportation for below itinerary:

    28 Mar – Osaka
    29 Mar – Osaka
    30 Mar – Osaka
    31 Mar – Osaka – Shirakawago
    01 Apr – Shirakawago – Mt Fuji
    02 Apr – Mt Fuji – Tokyo
    03 Apr – Tokyo
    04 Apr – Tokyo
    05 Apr – Tokyo
    06 Apr – Tokyo to NRT Airport

    Thanks in advance.

          1. Hi Takeshi,

            Is it recommended to use Hokuriku Arch Pass for below itinerary:

            31 Mar – Osaka to Kanazawa to Shirakawago
            01 Apr – Shirakawago to Kanazawa to Mt Fuji
            02 Apr – Mt Fuji to Tokyo
            03 Apr – Tokyo
            04 Apr – Tokyo
            05 Apr – Tokyo
            06 Apr – To NRT Airport

            Understand that the pass does not cover transportation to Mount Fuji but is there any transportation from Kanazawa to kawaguchiko station and Kawaguchiko Station to Ikebukuro station?

              1. Thanks for your reply Takeshi.

                What will be the best alternative to travel to Kawaguchiko after my stay in Shirakawago without having to go Tokyo first?

  9. Hi,

    Could you suggest which pass either train and or bus that we should take with the following itinerary :

    Day 1 – Osaka airport to Kanawaza
    Day 2 – Kanazawa to Toyama to Kanazawa
    Day 3 – Kanazawa to Shirakawago to Kanazawa
    Day 4 – Kanazawa to Hida Nosato to Takayama
    Day 5 – Takayama to Hida Furukawa to Takayama
    Day 6 – Takayama to Shinhoyaka ropeway to Takayama
    Day 7 – Takayama to Inuyama
    Day 8 – Inuyama
    Day 9 – Inuyama to Kyoto
    Day 10 – Kyoto
    Day 11 – Kyoto
    Day 12 – Kyoto (Kurama dan Kibune)
    Day 13 – Kyoto to Osaka airport

    So we intend to spend 3 nights in Kanazawa + 3 nights in Takayama + 2 nights in Inuyama + 4 nights in Kyoto

    Many thanks beforehand. Rgds, Saut

  10. hi i need your advice …

    im coing with my family on decemeber

    so here is my itenerary :
    25th arrive osaka evening ( overnight in osaka )
    26th depart to kyoto
    27th kyoto full day
    28th depart from kyoto to Shrikawago ( overnight in kanazawa)
    29th -31th cover kobe, nara himeji
    31-1th universal studio full day

    in your opinion which pass should i buy ? do u think it is wise for me to purchase JR pass to cover all these area ? Which JR pass should i purchase ?

    looking forward for your reply …apreaciate much of u can provide us some information on which pass we should get

    1. Hi Sherlyn,

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

      For Kobe, Nara and Himeji, Kansai thru pass is most common choice.

      Single ticket is okay for access to USJ.

      If you arrive and depart at Kansai airport, please see the link to find the deal.

      Takayama Hokuriku area pass covers KIX to Osaka if you arrive there on 25th. You don’t need to buy any deals for arrival day.


      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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