thunderbird 683

The Limited Express Thunderbird timetable and the train information. The train bound for 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.

The limited express Thunderbird connects Osaka, Shin-Osaka, Kyoto, Fukui, and Kanazawa. One round trip of this train operates to Wakura-Onsen. This train is the fastest way to get to Kanazawa from Osaka/Kyoto. If you go to Kanazawa from Osaka, simply take this limited express train.

This train is fully covered by JR Pass, Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass, Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass, and Hokuriku Arch Pass.

In this post, I will explain you about the train information of limited express Thunderbird.

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 get to Kanazawa from Osaka. Please see the route map below to find the trip time on the major segments and stations on the route:

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

You can find the timetable in the link below:

Timetable is not available until further notice due to the train suspenstion due to COVID-19.


683 series for the limited express Thunderbird

Thunderbird is serviced by 681 or 683 series. 681 series is a bit older fleet than 683. But both fleets are basically same.

The seat pitch in a Green seat is 1,160 mm (46 inches). It is the standard of most JR trains. The seat layout is 2+1. It offers very spacious leg room and quite good seating.

The seat pitch of an ordinary seat is 970 mm (38 inches). It is a little bigger than the standard of JR trains. Some seats on Car #3 are exclusively available for women and small child. Some of JR trains offer this service for women travelers.

By the way, the seat pitch of most major airlines is 76 cm (30 inches) to 84 cm (33 inches). You can imagine how spacious an ordinary seat is. Unless you have a big body, an ordinary class seat is fine.

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

Train formation

Thunderbird train formation


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


Green seat

Ordinary seat

Sanitary space

Other resources

I have a few more posts which explains you about the access to Kanazawa and surrounding area, such as Shirakawago, Takayama. Please refer the posts below to find more information. I believe these posts will help you to build your trip plan:

I hope this post will help you to create your trip plan.

374 thoughts on “The Limited Express Thunderbird timetable and the train information. The train bound for Kanazawa from Osaka and Kyoto.”

  1. Hi Takeshi san,

    How can I get from Takayama to Shin-Osaka using the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass? Is it to take the Nohi bus from Takayama to Kanazawa and Limited express thunderbird from Kanazawa to Shin-Osaka?

    I am intending to travel from Osaka to Shirakawago on 29 Dec or 2 Jan. Will I still be able to reserve a seat on the thunderbird when I arrive in Japan on 28 Dec? If i do not have any reserve seat, can i stand on the train? Thanks!

    1. Hi Steffi san,

      You may take Nohi bus and Thunderbird to get back to Shin-Osaka. And also you can take the train from Takayama to Toyama, Hokuriku Shinkansen from Toyama to Kanazawa, and then take Thunderbird from Kanazawa to Shin-Osaka. This route is also covered.

      December 29 will be busy but there is still a small chance to book a seat. It is not hard to book a seat if you travel on Jan 2. Please see the link below to find the info:


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I am going to purchase Kansai Hokuriku Pass. I will land in Kansai Airport and go from Kansai Airport –> Shin-Osaka –> Kanazawa.

    I will take the JR Thunderbird to Kanazawa from Shin-Osaka. As Kansai Hokuriku Pass does not have reserved seating, can I purchase the reserved seats when I exchange my Kansai Hokuriku Pass at the airport? And may I know how much is the reserved seat pricing?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Justin san,

      You may purchase it but I don’t recommend it. Because you have to pay full amount of reserved seat fee. This pass covers non reserved seat fee. But the amount that you have to pay is not the difference between reserved seat fee and non reserved seat fee. You have to pay full amount of reserved seat fee.
      Regular season fee for Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa.
      Reserved seat fee 2,900 yen
      Non reserved seat fee 2,380 yen
      You have to pay 2,900 yen if you want to reserve your seat. It’s not 520 yen (2900-2380) even though the pass covers 2380 yen portion.

      If you go back to Osaka, it’s easier to get a seat in non reserved seat car because Osaka is the original departure station of limited express Thunderbird.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,

        Thanks for your reply. As I am going in November 16 which I believe should be the peak koyo season, unreserved seats might be hard to find?

        If I buy JR Pass (full), I should be able to book my reserved seats on the Thunderbird at Kansai Airport?

        1. Hi Justin san,

          November 16 is not a super busy day. It may be a bit busier than usual.
          If you use JR pass, you have to make some more big trips. It costs around 10,000 yen from Kansai airport to Kanazawa by the reserved seat on Haruka and Thunderbird. Even if you use JR pass round trip between Kansai and Kanazawa, it costs about 20,000 yen. You still have to make 10,000 yen value trip to get the worth of JR pass 7-day.

          In my opinion, you will be okay on non reserved seat. But you should take the limited express Thunderbird from Osaka.


          Takeshi /

  3. Hello Takeshi-san,
    My family of 5 plan to travel from Osaka to Kyoto in mid Dec, and then to Myoko Kogen for skiing on December 20 this year, before heading to Tokyo on dec 26. Could you please advise which rail pass we should buy for the travel between the cities? We prefer to travel throughout by train including the shinkansen. Thank you.

    1. Hi Stephanie san,

      The regular fare ticket may be the best choice. Hokuriku Arch Pass may be suitable.

      But the regular are for Osaka to Joetsumyoko (nearest Shinkansen station to Myoko-Kogen) and Joetsumyoko to Tokyo is around 20,000 yen. Hokuriku Arch Pass is 24,000 yen. You cannot get the worth of this pass by these trips. But if you use this pass lots before/after these trips, you may be able to get the worth of it. But you cannot expect to get the big saving.


      Takeshi /

  4. 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.


      Takeshi /

  5. 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.


  6. 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?


    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.


      Takeshi /

  7. 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.

    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.


      Takeshi /

      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

          1. Hi Takeshi san,

            May I ask the Ltd Express Thunderbird from Kanazawa last stops at Osaka station. May i know the location of the station stops. Is the Osaka station is Shin-Osaka station? Does it stops at Namba station.

            Priscilla Lee

  8. 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.

  9. 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:

      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:


      Takeshi /

      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.

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


          Takeshi /

  10. 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:


      Takeshi /

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