Intercity train between Niigata and Kanazawa. Limited Express Hokuetsu

Limited Express "Hokuetsu"
Limited Express Hokuetsu

This train was discontinued on March 13, 2015. Hokuriku Shikansen has started to run on March 14, 2015. You can get Kanazawa and Toyama by Shinkansen from Tokyo without any transfer and much faster. If you need an access to Kanazawa from Tokyo, please find more info at the post, Hokuriku Shinkansen, direct access to Kanazawa, Nagano and Toyama from Tokyo.

If you need to transfer between Toyama/Kanazawa and Niigata, you have to take Hokuriku Shinkansen and transfer to limited express Shirayuki at Jouetsu-Myoko station. Unfortunately there will be no choice to take direct train service between Kanazawa/Tokyo and Niigata. Please find more info at the post, Limited Express Shirayuki. Intercity express between Joetsu-Myoko and Niigata.

Hokuetsu (北越) is operated between Niigata and Kanazawa. If you go to Kanazawa or Toyama from Tokyo, you may take Joetsu Shinkansen and transfer to this train at Nagaoka station.

Hokuetsu is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. But if you are hurry, you have a choice to take Hakutaka. But Hakutaka is operated on both JR lines and Non JR lines. That means you need to pay the extra. I would like to show you the details about Hokuetsu and the difference between Hokuetsu and Hakutaka.

Route, schedule and time required

Hokuetsu takes you to Kanazawa and Toyama via Nagaoka on Joetsu Shinkansen. But the major route to Kanazawa/Toyama is via Echigo-Yuzawa on Joetsu Shinkansen and take limited express “Hakutaka (はくたか)” since this route is faster. But this limited express train go through non-JR line, Hokuetsu Kyuko Hokuhoku line between Echigo-Yuzawa and Naoetsu. So you need to pay extra. I tell you the difference.

What is the difference between Hokuetsu and Hakutaka?

Hokuetsu runs 5 round trips. Hakutaka runs 13 round trip. It takes just less than 4 hours from Tokyo to Kanazawa by Hakutaka and takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes by Hokuetsu. So Hakutaka is obviously much faster and more convenient to go to Kanazawa. If you really want to save the time, take Hakutaka. The extra fare is about 2300 yen. If you need more information about Hakutaka, please refer this post, Limited Express Hakutaka.

View Hokuetsu in a larger map



x:All trains stop *:some trains stop


Hokuetsu is operated by JR East refurbished 485 series. The seat configuration in Green seat is 2+2. The seat pitch is 1160mm. In Ordinary seat has same seat configuration. The seat pitch is 910mm.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.

Tain formation


*G=Green seat R=Reserved seat NR=Non reserved seat
Car #3 sometimes is used as the non reserved seat.


Green seat
Ltd Express Hokuetsu Ltd Express Hokuetsu Ltd Express Hokuetsu Ltd Express Hokuetsu

Ordinary seat (no difference between reserved and non-reserved)
Ltd Express Hokuetsu Ltd Express Hokuetsu Ltd Express Hokuetsu Ltd Express Hokuetsu

Sanitary space
Ltd Express Hokuetsu Ltd Express Hokuetsu Ltd Express Hokuetsu Ltd Express Hokuetsu

8 thoughts on “Intercity train between Niigata and Kanazawa. Limited Express Hokuetsu”

  1. I would like to travel by train from Niigata to Kanazawa, traveling along the Japan Sea as much as possible. I think that the Hokuetsu will suit my wishes, without having to change trains.
    Are there better options?
    Will this be covered by my JR Rail Pass?


    1. Hi Willie,

      As I mentioned at the top of the post, this train was discontinued a few years ago. Now this segment is not covered by JR pass because it is owned by Echigo Tokimeki Railway and Ainokaze Toyama Railway. These are not JR and not covered by JR pass. Hokuriku Shinkansen was opened in this segment. Hokuriku Shinkansen is covered by JR Pass but it does not run at the shoreline. Mostly it runs in the tunnel. If you want to travel from Niigata to Kanazawa at the shoreline, your train trip will be the following:

      Limited Express Shirayuki (Niigata to Naoetsu) covered by JR pass

      Echigo Tokimeki Railway and Ainokaze Toyama Railway (Naoetsu to Toyama)
      Extra fare is required to take a local train. (2,080 yen) There is no express trains running. Trip time is 2 to 2.5 hours. At least one changing trains is required on the way to Toyama from Naoetsu.

      For Toyama to Kanazawa, you can take Shinkansen which is covered by JR pass. This segment does not line beside coastline.


      Takeshi /

  2. I’m planning to go to Kanazawa a day after arrival in Tokyo.

    I cannot seem to find a link where I could make advanced reservation for the Express Hakutaka tickets from Echigo Yuzawa to Kanazawa. Would you be able to help?

    Thanks much….

  3. JR Rail,
    We will travel in ended April to Toyama & Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine route from Narita Airport (30th April-3rd May), and back to Tokyo/Ueno by Shinano-Omachi (4th-5th May), then leave Ueno on 6th May to Narita Airport. Sir, please direct us how to manage by Trains and Buses, and should we purchase JR East Pass as will.
    Thank you .

    1. Hi Lam,

      You can take this route:
      Tokyo -(Joetsu Shinkansen)- Echigoyuzawa -(Limited Express Hakutaka)- Toyama
      Shinanoomachi -(Oito line local)- Matsumoto -(Limited Express Azusa)-Shinjuku

      You can get a timetable at Hyperdia.
      If you need instruction to use Hyperdia, please see the following:

      JR East Pass will be cheaper than total single fares. But JR East Pass does not cover the segment Naoetsu-Toyama. You have to pay extra on top of JR East Pass. You can find an extra fare at Hyperdia too. (Just check timetable for Naoetsu-Toyama)

      And also, these following posts may help you.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  4. Is it possible to book the Express Hakutaka tickets from Echigo Yuzawa – Kanazawa, from Narita JR booking office?

    Also, is there a link to the Hakutaka timetables to Kanazawa station?



    1. Hello Vikram,
      You can book it at Narita or any station that have the ticket window, “Midori no Madoguchi”. (Basically most of major stations have it.)
      You can get the schedule at Hyperdia.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

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