Access to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto. Limited Express Thuderbird

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.

Thunderbird is operated between Osaka (大阪) and Wakura-Onsen (和倉温泉), Kanazawa (金沢). This train is the fastest transfer from Osaka/Kyoto to Kanazawa. This train is very popular for both business and leisure travellers. Because there are several popular location along this trains’s route, like Awara-Onsen (芦原温泉) hot springs, Kaga-Onsen (加賀温泉) hot spring, Kanazawa and Wakura-Onsen hot spring. If you go to Kanazawa from Osaka, simply take this express train.

This train used to run to Toyama via Kanazawa. But on March 14, 2015, Hokuriku Shinkansen was opened and it connects Tokyo, Nagano, Toyama and Kanazawa directly. Now you have to transfer from Limited Express Thunderbird to Hokuriku Shinkansen when you go to Toyama from Osaka or Kyoto.

This train is fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.

Route, schedule and time required

Thunderbird runs 22 round trips a day. It takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to Kanazawa from Osaka. Some of Thunderbird are extended to operate to Wakura-Onsen. It takes about 4 hours from Osaka to Wakura-Onsen.

*You can find it at the bottom of JR West website.


View Limited Express Thunderbird in a larger map

Stations

Station to Kanazawa/Wakura-Onsen Remarks
Osaka (大阪) x
Shin-Osaka (新大阪) x Connect to Shinkansen
Kyoto (京都) x Connect to Shinkansen
Katada (堅田) * Some of Thunderbird stop
Oumi-Imazu (近江今津) * Some of Thunderbird stop
Tsuruga (敦賀) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Takefu (武生) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Sabae (鯖江) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Fukui (福井) x
Awara-Onsen (芦原温泉) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Kaga-Onsen (加賀温泉) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Komatsu (小松) * Most of Thunderbird stop
Matto (松任) * Some of Thunderbird stop
Kanazawa (金沢) x
Hakui (羽咋) x
Nanao (七尾) x
Wakura-Onsen (和倉温泉) x

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop

Accommodation

Thunderbird is serviced by 681 or 683 series. 681 is older than 683. But basically it is no difference.

The seat pitch in Green seat is 1160mm. It is the standard of most JR trains. The seat configuration is 2+1. It has spacious and nice holding. It is quite good seat. The seat pitch in Ordinary seat is 970mm. It is a little bigger than the standard. Car#3 is only for women. Some of JR train give this kind of service for women travellers.

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

Train formation

Thunderbird train formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
G R R R NR NR NR R R

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

Images – 681/683 series

Green seat
681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird

Ordinary seat
681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird

Sanitary space
681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird 681/683 series - Limited Express Thunderbird

261 thoughts on “Access to Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto. Limited Express Thuderbird”

  1. Dear Sir,
    We intend to buy the Takayama _Hokuriku tourist pass (5 days Pass) to cover my trips:
    1. From Osaka to Kyoto
    2. From Osaka to Kanazawa
    3. Visit Shirakawa-go and Kanazawa
    4. From Kanazawa to Kansai Airport.
    Thank you

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        Thank you very much for your promt reply. We wish to visit Kyoto’s Arashimaya first in the morning. Can we use Hankyu Line and Haruka Line under this pass.

        Best regards

        1. Hi Sue,

          You can get Kyoto by Haruka. It’s covered. But after arriving in Kyoto, Takayama Hokuriku area pass does not cover anything, such as Kyoto subway, city bus and Hankyu line. All trips in Kyoto will be extra. This pass covers only train to Kyoto.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Dear Sir,
            Thank you very much. We will be returning from our last stop at Fusshimi-Inari to Osaka in the evening. Should we take a JR Line to Kyota Station. Which is the best way to Osaka Namba Station.

            Your advice will be very much appreciated.
            Best regards

          2. Hi Sue,

            You can pay single fare for Inari to Kyoto. And then you can use the pass to go back to Osaka. You can take Haruka to Tennoji by this pass and then change local train to JR-Namba.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

      2. Dear Takeshi,

        Can i use Takayama -Hokuriku tourist pass for transport inside Osaka? for example, from Shin-Osaka to Osaka Castle, Shinsaibashi, etc.

  2. Hi, I am planning a 7 days trip in December to these places starting with Tokyo as my base. Nagano to see the snow monkeys, Kanazawa, Osaka then back to Tokyo.
    Am I going in the right order and will the bullet train cover these places?
    Appreciate a reply.

  3. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I am planning to take this route:
    Apr 12: Osaka -> Yoshino yama -> Osaka
    Apr 13: Osaka -> Nara -> Osaka
    Apr 14: Osaka -> Toyama
    Apr 15: Alpine route (end at Nagano) -> Tokyo.
    Apr 16 to 18: Travelling within Tokyo

    I will be getting the Kurobe option ticket for the alpine route, but may I know if it is worth to get the Hokuriku Arch pass or Hokuriku area pass?

    Thank you very much.

  4. dear sir,
    My wife and I will be staying at Kyoto and plan to spend a day at Kenrokuen. I plan to use the Shinkansen. What would be the earliest train that I can take from Kyoto station? And what would be the return schedule of the Kanazawa – Kyoto Shinkansen?
    I already have a JR Pass

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