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.


  1. Felicia says:

    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.

  2. Teh says:

    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?

  3. Juju says:

    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. LIM TING NEE says:

    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?

  5. Min says:


    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. Samuel says:

    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. Edyth says:


    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.


  8. Tracy says:

    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.

  9. Saut says:


    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. sherlyn says:

    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

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