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. Py says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    Below my itinerary,could you recommend the pass?
    Day 1:Nagoya Chubu airport – Shirakawago
    Day 2 :Shirakawago – Takayama – Shinhotaka ropeway
    Day 3: Takayama – Kyoto
    Day 4&5:Kyoto
    Day 6:Kyoto to Osaka
    Day 7:Osaka
    Day 8:Nara
    Day 9:Osaka
    Day 10:Kansai Airport
    Thank you.

  2. Evelyn says:

    hi, i would like to go to Shirakawago from Kyoto in end of May. I have 3 adults and 3 kids. Should i drive or take train there? i plan to take train from Kyoto to Kanazawa, then rent a car to Shirakawago and back. Will stay one night at Kanazawa (or should i stay in Shirakawago)? my next destination is Tokyo.

    Thank you very much.

    • Hi Evelyn,

      Unfortunately I have not driven in Japan for the last 10 years. So I cannot compare train and drive.

      You can make a day trip to Shirakawago from Kanazawa. If you want to stay in Shirakawago, that’s okay. But Kanazawa is much bigger city and much easier to find the accommodation.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hazel Mortera says:

    Hello Takeshi-san,
    What tickets or passes do we need to go to Shirakawa-Go from Osaka for a day trip only? Can we reserve seats on the train and bus at this time? We hope you can help us with our question.
    Best regards!

  4. Evon Ee says:


    I planned to go kanazawan and shirakawago from tokyo day trip and proceed to osaka.
    Which pass shall i purchase?

  5. JAYCELYN HO says:

    Dear Takeshi,

    Good day to you.

    Day 1 – Arrived at Kansai Airport to Hotel in Shin Osaka / sightseeing in Osaka
    Day 2 – To Universal Studio, Osaka
    Day 3 – From Osaka to Kyoto (Day trip)
    Day 4 – From Osaka to Shirakawa-go (stay 1 night)
    Day 5 – From Shirakawa-go – Nagoya – Shin-Osaka
    Day 6 – From Osaka – Kobe – Osaka
    Day 7 – Osaka
    Day 8 – from Shin-osaka To Kansai Airport

    What’s the best pass shall I buy for my trip ?
    Thanks for your help in advance.


  6. Sam says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Good day to you.

    I am planning to Osaka/Shirakawago/Kyoto/Nara from 24 May till 1 Jun next year and below is my draft itinerary, would appreciate if you can advise me what is the best route and tourist pass to use? was thinking to go Nagoya after Shirakawago but afraid not enough time.

    24 May Arrived Kansai Airport at night, plan to stay a night in Kansai
    25 May Depart to Shirakawago from Kansai, plan to stay a night in Shirakawago
    26 May Leave Shirakawago in the late afternoon to Kyoto, plan to stay 2 nights in Kyoto
    28 May Leave Kyoto to Osaka
    29 May Day trip in Osaka for site seeing
    30 May Depart to Nara for Day trip, evening back to Osaka
    31 May – 1 Jun Osaka

    Thanks in advance.

  7. Vivian says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Our routes are Osaka/Kyoto, Kanazawa and Shirakawago for our trip. I know the Takayama Hokuriku area pass can cover this but I would like to clarify:

    1. Does it cover Osaka – Kyoto train and back?
    Planning to just buy a 1 day Kyoto subway + city bus pass to cover kyoto.
    2. Does it cover JR trains in Osaka city area as well as to Universal Studios?

    thanks for your help!

    • Hi Vivian,

      Both trips are covered by Takayama Hokuriku area pass.


      Takeshi /

      • Vivian says:

        Thank you so much for your quick reply. I was planning to buy the 7 day JR PASS but our trip will be from Christmas ’til New Year and I’m afraid I might not be able to reserve seats if we go from Osaka to Tokyo vice versa during the EOY period. I saw the JAL Explorer Pass or ANA Discover pass roundtrip which was a good deal + the Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass which can cover our trip to Shirakawago. Price is about the same as the 7 Day JR Pass. Do you think we should just get this to secure seats to and from Osaka/Tokyo?

        Also when you say unreserved seats, does that mean we can just hop on a train and not go to any JR train counter?

        Again, thank you so much.

  8. N says:

    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!

  9. Kim says:

    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


  10. LDG says:

    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?

    • 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.


      Takeshi /

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