Sample itinerary of day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Tokyo

Higashichayagai area is one of most popular spots in Kanazawa. (C) Kanazawa City / JNTO
Higashichayagai area is one of most popular spots in Kanazawa. (C) Kanazawa City / JNTO

I have just written about day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Osaka and Kyoto on the previous post. Some readers have asked me day trip to Kanazawa from Tokyo. Thanks Hokuriku Shikansen. It reduce drastically the trip time to Kanazawa from Tokyo. Now you can do day trip to Kanazawa from Tokyo easily.

I would like to show you the sample itinerary of day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago in this post.

From Tokyo to Kanazawa

The new fleet, E6 / W6 series run on Hokuriku Shinkansen.
The new fleet, E6 / W6 series run on Hokuriku Shinkansen.

Tokyo 6:16 – (Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki 501) – Kanazawa 8:46
Tokyo 7:20 – (Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki 503) – Kanazawa 9:54

I recommend you to see Kanazawa first. Because the next bus leave for Shirakawago at 10:50.

Nohi Bus timetable (Kanazawa – Shirakawago)

Even if you take the earliest train, Kagayaki 501, you have only two hours. I thing even two hours is not enough to see Kanazawa. You can spend whole morning in Kanazawa and take a bus to Shirakawago after lunch time.

Return trip to Shirakawago

World Heritage Site, Shirakawago (C)Akimasa Yuasa / JNTO
World Heritage Site, Shirakawago (C)Akimasa Yuasa / JNTO

Kanazawa 13:15 – (Nohi Bus) – Shirakawago 14:30
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 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 Hokuriku Shinkansen from Kanazwa to Tokyo after coming back from Shirakawago.

Kanazawa 19:39 – (Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki 516) – Tokyo 22:12
Kanazawa 21:00 – (Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki 518) – Tokyo 23:32

So if you want to eat dinner in the restaurant, you can take the last Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki 518. 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 Hokuriku Shinkansen Kagayaki at 19:39. You can grab some foods at Kanazawa station and eat on board. On board sales is available on the train. But the price of on board sales is mostly higher than than shops at the station.

Suggested deal

Hokuriku Arch Pass is most affordable deal. It is cheaper than round trip fare by Hokuriku Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kanazawa. Please see the link below to find the information about this pass:

Tokyo-Osaka Hokuriku Arch Pass user guide. Clarify valid trains, coverage area and compare single fare and pass.

But you need to add single fare to get the bus to Shirakawago.

Japan Rail Pass is also recommended. Round trip fare by Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kanazawa is almost same as 7 days JR Pass price. Even if it does not cover bus to Shirakawago, Japan Rail Pass still work for this trip.

Nohi Bus to Shirakawago is not covered by either Hokuriku arch pass or JR pass. The extra fare is 3,290 yen for return.

Japan Rail Pass user Guide. How to use JR Pass to it’s maximum.

Don’t forget to check the timetable before you go

The above sample itinerary is built by timetable of September 2015. When you use this sample itinerary, please check the updated timetable.

Hyperdia (check the train timetable)
Nohi bus (check the bus timetable)

191 thoughts on “Sample itinerary of day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago from Tokyo”

  1. Hi Takeshi-San,

    I’m planning to do the Alpine route and Shirakawago in June, my plan is as below, please can you guide me on this. I live in Singapore so my kids have never seen the snow, thought Alpine would be the best place to visit.

    20 June
    Leave from Tokyo to Nagano via Shinkansen.End Alpine route at Toyama and take the shinkansen to Kanazawa, jump into Nohi bus to Shirakawago, stay overnight at Ryokan in Shirakawago

    21 June
    Explore the village at Shirakawago and leave for Takayama, take the train to Kyoto via Nagoya.

    Please advise if it’s worth staying at a Ryokan in Shirakawago or should I look for something in Kanazawa and head fro Shirakawago on day-2 en route to Kyoto. Any other Ryokan stay with onsen you could recommend?

    1. Hi Murtuza san,

      You must take a bus to Shirakawago at Toyama. Please see the link below to find the timetable:

      The last bus to Shirakawago from Kanazawa is 16:00. It’s too early and you waste the time because you need to move from Toyama to Kanazawa. You can get 18:55 departure at Toyama. You must book a seat in advance. Reservation is required. Reservation info can be found in the timetable.

      If you really want to stay in Shirakawago, that’s okay. But as you see the timetable, arrival time is so late. I recommend you to stay in Toyama and visit Shirakawago next day. It is very hard to move to Shirakawago after visiting alpine route.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hello Takeshi, thank you very much for this helpful post.

    Are Kanazawa and Shirakawago still nice to see in the first week of April? I am guessing that the plants are not yet blooming. Is it cold during this time and do we need our winter clothes?

    We will be arriving from Tokyo in the morning. Do you think it is possible to visit Kanazawa and Shirakawago in
    one day, but also have enough time to arrive at a Ryokan in time to eat dinner? We would be interested in going to Osaka the next day. Is this too much rush?

    Thank you very much

    1. Hi Mary,

      Shirakawago is always nice to visit. In April, it’s transition season. It’s too early to see cherry blossom there. Usually it blooms in late April. Actually even in late April, we see some snow sometimes. So winter cloth is required.

      If you leave Tokyo very early morning, you have time to see both in one day.


      Takeshi /

  3. Hi Takeshi,
    My friends and I plan to have one day trip to shirakawa go from Tokyo and we want to end that trip in Kyoto. Is it possible to do so?

  4. Hi Takeshi,
    I just want to know would it be enough to spend only 3 hour in Shirakawago?
    I don’t want join any tour package, do you have any recommendation what to do for only 3 hours?
    I am planning to go there on January.
    Thanks a lot.

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    I am going to travel mostly around Tokyo and Sendai for my next trip, but I also have a friend I am thinking of visiting in Kanazawa. If I buy the JR East Pass (Tohoku) will it also cover the trip to Kanazawa? I am confused because on the JR East website it looks like it’s not covered but the line itself (Hokuriku) is covered?

    Thanks in advance!


  6. Hello,

    I can’t figure out if it’s cheaper to purchase a Tokyo>Kanazawa and Kanazawa>Tokyo return fare if the base fare includes the return? Or is it the same price as 2xone way? I live in Japan so I can’t use the Arch Pass.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Zoe,

      Even if you purchase return, it’s same. There is long distance round trip discount. But you need to travel more than 600km for one way. Tokyo to Kanazawa is less than 500km. It’s not applied.


      Takeshi /

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    I may need your assistance on which pass should i buy? My travel plans start from Tokyo to Kanazawa to Osaka then back to Tokyo from Osaka. Should i get the JP Rail pass or the JR Osaka-Tokyo Hokuriku Arch Pass? Thanks

    1. Hi Jolene,

      Both passes suit your trip plan. Hokuriku arch pass is cheaper but it does not cover Osaka to Tokyo direct route. If you use Hokuriku arch pass, you have to take Osaka-Kanazawa-Tokyo route. You must change trains at Kanazawa and trip time is 5.5 to 6 hours. If you use JR pass, you can take Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo. It takes 3 hours.

      The price difference is about 5,000 yen. You can choose whichever you like.


      Takeshi /

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    I am Mariana, and planning to Japan on this December. However, I will have a one day trip to Shirakawayo, could you give me advice for the route? Is it better from Tokyo or Osaka?

  9. Hey Takeshi,
    I am Stephen Sim from Singapore. I am planning to visit Japan from 19-29 Dec. Would like to plan my trip to Tokyo – Kanazawa (2 nights) – Takayama (2 nights) – Nagano (2 nights) – Tokyo (4 nights).
    You think this will be the correct route or if you have any advice for better route planning?

      1. Thanks Takeshi.
        Just wondering is that better to have day trip to Shirakwago from Kanazawa or from Takayama. Which direction is more convenient.
        Any recommendation for ski resort or onsen places around Kanzawa or Takayama?
        Will christmas eve in Nagano happening?

        1. Hi Stephen,

          >Just wondering is that better to have day trip to Shirakwago from Kanazawa or from Takayama. Which direction is more convenient.
          Takayama is a bit more convenient because of trip time and more buses. Please see the link below to find the bus timetable:

          >Any recommendation for ski resort or onsen places around Kanzawa or Takayama?
          Kaga Onsen, Wakura onsen and Gero Onsen are recommended. I’m not familiar with ski resort there:

          >Will christmas eve in Nagano happening?
          I have no idea. But New Years Eve is more important for Japanese. Christmas is just an event and Japanese do not celebrate.


          Takeshi /

  10. Hi mate, really appreciate your help. I am not sure if I should get a 7 or 14 day pass. My trip is like this from july 7 to july 23. Arrive on 7 at night. I want to travel from tokyo to kanazawa, tokoyama. Stay 2 nights and the travel to kyoto. Stay 4 nights in kyoto. Do day trips to hiroshima and second day nara & osaka. Travel back to japan. Day trips to nikko, kamakura, and possible 1 more destination.

    My dilemma is if i try to squeeze everything in 7 day pass i might not have enough time in kyoto. Can you please advise if i can get better deal than buying 14 day pass.

    Many thanks

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