Limited Express Thunderbird ,train to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto.

683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region, such as Thunderbird and Shirasagi.
683 series is the primary fleet for limited express train in Hokuriku region, such as Thunderbird and Shirasagi.

Limited Express Thunderbird runs between Osaka, Shin-Osaka, Kyoto, Fukui, and Kanazawa. One round trip is operated to Wakura-Onsen. This train is the fastest train between Osaka/Kyoto and Kanazawa. If you go to Kanazawa from Osaka, simply take this express train.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass, Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass, Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass. I will tell you the detail information about this train in this post.

Route, schedule and trip time

Thunderbird runs one or two departure(s) in every hour and it runs more than 20 round trips a day. Average trip time is 2 hours and 45 minutes to Kanazawa from Osaka. Please see the route map below to find the trip time on the major segments and stations on the route:

Limited Express Thunderbird train operation route (Click to view large)

Accommodation

Thunderbird is serviced by 681 or 683 series. 681 series is a bit older fleet than 683. But these look same.

The seat pitch in Green seat is 1,160 mm. It is the standard of most JR trains. The seat configuration is 2+1. It offers enough leg room and quite good seat with nice holding. The seat pitch in Ordinary seat is 970 mm. It is a little bigger than the standard. Some seats on Car #3 are exclusively available for women and small child. Some of JR trains offer this service for women travelers.

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

Train formation

Thunderbird train formation

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*G=Green seat R=Reserved seat NR=Non reserved seat
Smoking is not allowed on board.

Images – 681/683 series

Green seat

Ordinary seat

Sanitary space

348 thoughts on “Limited Express Thunderbird ,train to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto.”

  1. Hi Taekshi,

    I would like to ask whether ticket for adult and kids(age10,8,4 and 2 yrs old) are the same price or no not?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Wani,

      Child rate is half price of adult fare and it is applied to 6 to 11 years old. 5 year old or younger is free of charge if one of adult or child fare passenger share the seat. If you want to one seat for the child who is less than 5 years old, you still have to pay child fare.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Morning,
    Would like to ask, what is the earliest train for thunderbird from osaka to kanazawa? As i need to plan and book Hokurikutetsudo bus to go shirakawago.

    Regards,
    CK

  3. Hi,

    I have purchased the Takayama Hokuriku area pass and will travelling on eary Feb 2019; my planned itinerary as below

    Day 1: Kansai airport to Kanazawa (Haruka JR line to Shin-Osaka then Thunderbird JR to Kanazawa)
    Day 2: Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go (Nousi bus )
    Day 3: Shirakawa-go to Takayama (Nousi bus)
    Day 4: Takayama to Kanazawa to Osaka (Nousi bus then Thunderbird JR to Osaka)

    since i’m travelling with 3 youngs children together, when i change my pass in Kansai airport cani directly book for the return reserve seat for Thunderbird? if i’m not mistaken Haruka JR line even is covered by Takayama Hokuriku area pass but is an unreserve seat, how can i top up for a reserve seat with a confirm timing.

    i’m yet to change my Takayama Hokuriku area pass from JR station, as of now i only obtain a letter. can i still call to book the nousi bus?

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Christy,

      If you reserve your seat on Haruka, you have to pay around 1,500 yen per seat. That is not economical choice. Just hop on Haruka to find a seat. Usually you will have no problem with finding a seat.

      You can book a seat for Nohi bus. But the seat is on sale one month before a trip date. And you have to make a call. There is no online reservation available.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi san,

    I am travelling to Japan next year May. I am planning to buy the Takayama-Hokuriku Area pass.

    Day 1 Kyoto-Kanazawa (using Ltd Express Thunderbird)-Toyama(using Hokuriku Shinkansen) stay 2 nights
    Day 3 Toyama-Takayama (using JR Ltd Express Wide View Hida) stay 1night
    Day 4 Takayama- Shirakawago – Kanazawa (using Nohi Bus) – Osaka(using Ltd Express Thunderbird) stay 1 night
    Day 5 Osaka – Kansai airport (using Hanwa line) how long its takes to arrive airport.

    Q1. Is my itinerary plan above all covered by Takayama-Hokuriku Area pass.
    Q2. How do we get reserved seat for Ltd Express Thunderbird. Is it on the same day.

    Any other tips and advice is much appreciated.
    thanks

    regards,
    Priscilla Lee

    1. Hi Priscilla san,

      1. Yes.
      2. You can book it when you exchange a pass. Or you can book it at any major JR stations later. Probably Kansai airport station is busy. When you exchange a pass, just change the pass and better to book later after you arrive in Kyoto.

      You can take Haruka or rapid train from Osaka to Kansai.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/how-to-get-kansai-airport-and-wakayama-kansai-airport-rapid-service-and-kishuji-rapid-service.html
      https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/kansai-airport-limited-express-haruka.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        One last clarification refer to my itinerary plan above, Takayama-Hokuriku Area pass also covered reserved seats using Ltd Express Thunderbird from Kyoto-Kanazawa (Day1) and Kanazawa-Osaka(Day4). Correct me if i am wrong.

        thanks and regards,
        Priscilla Lee

  5. Hi Takeshi San, I will be travel to Kanazawa via Osaka, and stay one night at Shirakawago. And from Kanazawa to Kyoto, stay total 3 days. From Kyoto to Osaka will stay 2 days. Could you please suggest which pass suits my plan above? Your suggestion would be highly appreciated.
    Regards,

  6. Hello Mr Takashi,

    We plan to get the Takayama Hokuriko 5-day Pass. Should we activate the pass at the end of our trip to cover Osaka? Please suggest any alternative. Thank you!

    Nagoya Chubu – Meitetsu U-sky/ Ltd Express – Wide view Hida to Takayama (2 nights)
    Takayama – Shirakawago via Nohi Bus (1 night)
    Shirakawago – Kanazawa via wide view Hida to Toyama -> Hokurizu Shinkansen > Kanazawa ( 2 units)
    Kanazawa – Osaka (Limited Exp Thunderbird) (2 nights)

    1. Hi Katherine,

      This pass is valid for 5 days. So you have to add a regular fare ticket for either Nagoya to Takayama or Kanazawa to Osaka. In this case, you have to add the fare for Nagoya to Takayama because it’s cheaper than Kanazawa to Osaka. You can find the fare in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/takayama-hokuriku-area-pass-perfect-deal-to-get-takayama-kanazawa-toyama-shirakawago-from-nagoya-or-osaka.html

      By the way, a part of Takayama to Toyama segment is closed now due to the track damage. It will be fixed by late November. If you travel there after December, it’s okay. But if you travel before then, you have to change bus and local trains several times. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/train-operation-status

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Mr Takashi, my trip will be in Feb, thanks for the heads-up on the track damage.

        Should I activate the pass on the day I am going to Shirakawago (For Nohi bus to & fro) or should I do it upon departure to Kanazawa?

        By the way, from Shirakawago to take the wide view hida train to Toyama, I have to go back to Takayama station? (kinda confuse here) . I think there is a direct bus from Shirakawago to Kanazawa.

        1. Hi Katherine,

          You can start using the pass when you go to Shirakawago from Takayama.

          When yo go to Kanazawa from Shirakawago, you don’t need to go back to Takayama. You can take a bus from Shirakawago to Kanazawa. This bus is covered by the pass.
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-get-shirakawa-go-%E7%99%BD%E5%B7%9D%E9%83%B7.html

          I thought you want to drop by Toyama on the way to Kanazawa.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Taekshi,

    I am having trouble finding prices and time on HyperDia. I am trying to see if it is worth getting the Hokuriku arch pass. I was wondering if you could help point us in the right direction. This is our plan.

    Six airport – Namba station (3 nights)
    Osaka – Kanazawa (one night)
    Kanazawa – Karuizawa (2 nights)
    Karuizawa – Tokyo (3 nights)
    Tokyo – Narita airport

    Any tips and advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards, Fiona

    1. Hi Fiona,

      You may use Hokuriku arch pass for the last 7 days, Osaka-Kanazawa-Karuizawa-Narita. You can get the worth of it by this 7 days trip.
      For KIX-Osaka and sightseeing in Osaka, you may add other deals. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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