If you leave Tokyo very early morning, you can visit Kanazawa and Shirakawago as a day trip.
I would like to show you the sample itinerary of day trip to Kanazawa and Shirakawago in this post.
From Tokyo to Kanazawa
The earliest train on the Hokuriku Shinkansen for Kanazawa is 06:16 departure. You can get Kanazawa at 08:46. There are many trains running between Tokyo and Kanazawa. Please find the timetable of the Hokuriku Shinkansen at JR East official site:
I recommend you to see Kanazawa first. Because you can spend your time more efficiently by this order.
You will spend your time in the morning in Kanazawa. After lunch time, you can take Nohi Bus for Shirakawago.
Return trip to Shirakawago
Kanazawa 13:15 – (Nohi Bus) – Shirakawago 14:30
Shirakawago 17:30 – (Nohi Bus) – Kanazawa 18:45
I picked this schedule and you can enjoy 3 hours in Shirakawago. But you can make an adjustment as you like. Please find the timetable in Nohi Bus official site:
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 13:40 departure from Kanazawa and arrival Shirakawago at 15:05. It is okay but it is a bit short to see the village.
Go back to Tokyo from Kanazawa
The last train on the Hokuriku Shinkansen is Kagayaki 518 at 21:00.
If you want to eat dinner in the restaurant, you can take this last train. You will have two hours. There are many restaurants in Kanazawa station building.
If you want to go back to Tokyo as soon as possible, take earlier departure Hokuriku Shinkansen. You can grab some foods at Kanazawa station and eat on board. On board sales is available on the train. But the variety of items are limited and the price of on board sales is mostly higher than the shops in the station. I recommend you to get something before boarding.
Hokuriku Arch Pass is most affordable deal. It is cheaper than round trip fare by the Hokuriku Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kanazawa. Please see the link below to find the information about this pass:
But you need to add single fare to get the bus to Shirakawago.
JR Pass is also recommended. The round trip fare by Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kanazawa is almost same as 7-day JR Pass price. Even if it does not cover bus to Shirakawago, JR Pass still works for this trip.
Nohi Bus to Shirakawago is not covered by either Hokuriku arch pass or JR pass.
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.