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 Takeshi,

    I will be travelling to Japan on december 16-24, 2017 ( 9 days) with following itinerary :
    16 dec :Osaka
    17 dec : Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto-Osaka
    18 dec Osaka- takayama
    19 dec: takayama- Shirakawago
    20 dec : takayama- Tokyo (shinjuku)
    21-23 dec : Tokyo
    24 dec : Tokyo( Narita)

    Would you kindly suggest me which JRP would suit my itinerary best for transportation?

    Looking forward to hearing from you, thank you.

    1. Hi Selviana,

      I recommend you to use 7 days JR pass from 18th to 24th. Actually regular fare may be slightly cheaper than 7 days pass. But JR pass is easier to handle. You can take Shinkansen (bullet train) to get Nagoya and then take limited express wide view Hida to get Takayama. You also can take same trains to get Tokyo.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-to-takayama-by-trains-and-buses.html

      You can take local train in Tokyo and take Narita express at last to get Narita. All train trips are covered by JR pass.

      If you arrive in KIX, there are some deals.
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/kansai-kix/how-to-choose-the-deals-for-access-tofrom-kansai-airport.html

      It’s very very tight to visit Kobe and Kyoto in one day. Especially Kyoto has lots of places to see. If you really want to do both in one day, Kansai area pass one day is your choice.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-use-jr-west-kansai-area-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      Single fare is better choice if you visit one of two places only. But you can use city deals in Kyoto to visit places in the city.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you for your prompt response Takeshi 🙂

        I have actually amended my itinerary :
        16 dec : Seoul – Sapporo (flight)
        17 dec : Sapporo – Tomamu resort (stay overnight) – Ice Village
        18 dec: Sapporo
        19 dec: Sapporo – Osaka (Flight)
        Osaka city
        20 Dec: takayama
        21 Dec: Takayama – Shirakawago
        20 dec : takayama – Tokyo (shinjuku)
        21: Tokyo
        22: Tokyo – Odaiba
        23 dec : Tokyo
        24 Dec: Tokyo – Hakone (Day Trip)
        24 dec : Tokyo( Narita)

        Would you kindly suggest me which JRP would suit my itinerary best for transportation?

        Looking forward to hearing from you, thank you.

        1. Hi Selviana,

          The date looks something wrong.

          20 Dec: takayama
          21 Dec: Takayama – Shirakawago
          20 dec : takayama – Tokyo (shinjuku)
          21: Tokyo

          Please let me know the right dates.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Thanks Takeshi.

            Here is the correct date:
            16 dec : Seoul – Sapporo (flight)
            17 dec : Sapporo – Tomamu resort (stay overnight) – Ice Village
            18 dec: Sapporo
            19 dec: Sapporo – Osaka (Flight)
            Osaka city
            20 Dec: takayama
            21 Dec: Takayama – Shirakawago
            22 dec : takayama – Tokyo (shinjuku)
            23: Tokyo
            24:Tokyo – Odaiba
            25 dec : Tokyo
            26 Dec: Tokyo – Hakone (Day Trip)
            27 dec : Tokyo( Narita)

            Would you kindly suggest me which JRP would suit my itinerary best for transportation?

            thank you.

  2. Hi i would like to ask for the Takayama Hokuriku pass, once arrived at Kansai Airport is there direct train to Kanazawa or will we be required to exchange train at Osaka station?

    Thank you!

  3. Hello Takeshi san,

    I am a student coming to Japan for Masters. Basically, I will be going from Kansai Airport to Komatsu with an intermediate stop at Shin-Osaka.

    I will be taking the LTD. EXP HARUKA 46 from Kansai-Airport to Shin-Osaka on April 2nd and from Shin-Osaka to Komatsu by LTD. EXP THUNDERBIRD 11 and April 3rd.

    I will be staying in Komatsu for a while so I am not planning to get the JR pass.

    These are my questions –
    1) Should I buy the ICOCA card? Can I use it to get a discount on the Thunderbird express?
    2) I wish to book regular tickets, without any pass, online prior to my arrival in Japan. Where can I do that? The JRWEST site seems to provide only the passes.

    Thank you very much

    1. Hi Anand san,

      1. ICOCA cannot be used for express seat fee. It covers base fare only and Komatsu is not in coverage area. So ICOCA is not required.

      2. You cannot purchase a ticket online. You have to book and purchase upon arrival at Kansai airport station.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi san,

    Need your advise on which pass and transportation to take for my Japan trip:

    23 Mar – Narita to Ikebukuro
    24 Mar – Tokyo
    25 Mar – Tokyo
    26 Mar – Tokyo
    27 Mar – Tokyo
    28 Mar – Tokyo to Kanazawa
    29 Mar – Kanazawa to Osaka
    30 Mar – Osaka
    31 Mar – Osaka

    For tokyo, i see that most of the attraction places are not covered by JR pass. Is it adviseable to get daily Tokyo Subway Ticket with unlimited rides on Metro and Toei Line?

      1. Dear Takeshi san,

        Thanks for the info on the rail pass 🙂

        I would like to cover Takayama on my trip. Which is the best route and transportation that you could advise?

        Option 1:
        Tokyo-Kanazawa-Shirakawago-Takayama-Osaka

        Option 2:
        Tokyo-Takayama-Shirakawago-Kanazawa-Osaka

          1. Hi Takeshi san,

            What will be the transportation from Takayama to Osaka? Does the Hokuriku Arch Pass cover this route?

          2. Hi Tracy san,

            Most common route is taking Limited Express Wide View Hida from Takayama to Nagoya and taking Shinkansen from Nagoya to Osaka. Please see the link below:
            https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-to-takayama-by-trains-and-buses.html

            But if you use Hokuriku Arch Pass, Takayama is not in coverage area. This above route is not covered by Hokuriku Arch Pass at all.

            If you want to use Hokuriku Arch Pass, you have to take train to Toyama or bus to Kanazawa. Both routes to Toyama or Kanazawa are not covered by Hokuriku Arch Pass but you can use Hokuriku Arch Pass after you arrive in Toyama or Kanazawa. You have to pay at least 3000 yen one way to take either route.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

          3. Hi Takeshi san,

            Does the Hokuriku Arch Pass covered the basic fare and reserved seats ticket? Do I have to pay any additional fees when collecting my online reservation ticket at the station ticket window?

          4. Hi Tracy san,

            The pass covers both. You don’t need to pay any extra even if you book online. You can collect a ticket without any extra after you exchange the pass.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi,
    I’m traveling from Osaka to Shirakawago. Staying overnight at the Shirakawago and the next day heading to Nagoya. What is the best railway route I should take?

    1. Hi Denise,

      Osaka (train) Kanazawa (bus) Shirakawago (bus) Takayama (train) Nagoya
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-to-takayama-by-trains-and-buses.html

      This is the best and most common route. All trips are covered by Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass and it’s highly recommended.
      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

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be travelling to Japan on February 18-25, 2017 ( 8 days) with following itinerary… Kindly advice on which transport or passes that suits my trip?

    18 Feb – Tokyo (Staying nearby at Shijuku Station)
    19 Feb – Tokyo
    20 Feb – Gokayama (by YOKOSO tour package)
    21 Feb – Gokayama (Staying near by Shin-Osaka Station)
    22 Feb – Kyoto
    23 Feb – Nara
    24 Feb – Osaka
    25 Feb – Osaka

      1. Hi Sir,

        Below is the local tour information…

        ■Tour Name: 【Departure guaranteed!!】 The World Heritage, Illuminated Gokayama in the Snow. Shirakawago & Kanazawa at Daytime. Hot Spring Ryokan & Hida Beef Sushi Dinner.
        ■Departure Date: 20 February, 2017
        ■Departure Place: Shinjuku Station south entrance

        (2 day 1 night)

        Kim

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be travelling to Japan on January 16-24, 2017 ( 9 days) with following itinerary :
    16 Jan : Tokyo ( Narita)-Osaka by Shinkansen
    17 Jan : Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto-Osaka
    18 Jan : Osaka- Kanazawa
    19 Jan : Kanazawa- Shirakawago- Takamayo- Kanazawa
    20 Jan : Kanazawa- Tokyo by Shinkansen
    21-23 Jan : Tokyo
    24 Jan : Tokyo( Narita)- Jakarta

    Would you kindly suggest me which JRP would suit my itinerary best for transportation?
    Also, Should i purchase Hokuriko Area Pass for bus transportation?

    Looking forward to hearing from you, thank you.

    1. Hi Sonia,

      You can use 7 days JR pass for the first 7 days. You need to add bus fare for trip to Takayama and Shirakawago. And also you may add single fare or city deals in the last 2 days. You can use subway pass for sightseeing in Tokyo but basically there is no deals to get Narita on the last day.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/airport-access/narita/the-list-of-deals-for-access-to-downtown-tokyo-from-narita-airport.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    I will be travelling from Nagoya to Takayama & Shiragawa-go in same day and next day to Kanazawa. Stay 2 nights at Kanazawa and proceed to Kyoto.

    Will be travel around Kyoto, Nara, Osaka for 7 days before proceed to Kansai Airport.

    Hence, would like to check with you; which passes are more suitable more my usage?

    Thanks
    Jane

      1. Thanks Takeshi,

        Tomorrow will check the pass information with JTB Singapore & hope can reserve for the bus from Takayama to Shiragawa-go at the same time.

        Thanks
        Jane

          1. Hi Takeshi San,

            Can you assist to advise on the passes or transporation for my entire trip in Japan from 21-31 Jan 2017?

            Day 1 – Nagoya Airport to Takayama to Shirakawa-go
            Day 2 – Shirakawa-go to Kanazawa
            Day 3 – Kanazawa
            Day 4 – Kanazawa to Kyoto
            Day 5 – Kyoto to Nara to Kyoto
            Day 6 & Day 7 – Kyoto (include Arashiyama)
            Day 8 – Kyoto to Shirahama
            Day 9 – Shirahama to Osaka
            Day 10 – Osaka
            Day 11 – Osaka to Kansai Airport

            Day 1 to Day 4 will be using Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass.
            How about Day 5 onward?

            Thanks in advance for your help.

            Regards
            Jane

          2. Hi Jane san,

            First of all, I recommend you to switch day 5 and 7. So trip to Nara is on day 7, sightseeing in Kyoto on day 5 and 6.
            For day 5 and 6, please add city deal.
            https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-kyoto.html

            After day 7 to the end of your trip, you may use Kansai wide area pass that is valid for 5 days. You can take JR trains to Nara, Shirahama and KIX.
            https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/the-newest-jr-west-rail-pass-for-kansai-and-okayama-kurashiki-kinosakai-and-shingu-area-kansai-wide-area-pass.html

            This is reason why I suggest you to change day 5 and 7.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshi San,

    I have plan go to Japan on 30 Dec – 7 Jan 2017 (Total 9 days) with following itinerary :
    30 Dec : Namba Area (Den Den Town, Kuromon, Dontoburi, etc.)
    31 Dec : Takayama + Shirakawago
    1 Jan : Kanazawa
    2 -3 Jan : Kyoto Area
    4 Jan : Osaka (Osaka Castle, Tempozan, Umeda)
    5 Jan : Kobe Area
    6 Jan : Nara
    7 Jan : Early Flight to Jakarta

    Kindly advise regarding above itinerary, and which one better for transportation :

    Alternative 1.
    For 1st 7 Days Using JR Pass West Area + 1 Day Pass Osaka + JR to KIX Airport

    or

    Alternative 2.
    For 1st 5 Days Using Takayama Horiku Area + 1 Day Pass Osaka + 3 Days Kansai Thru Pass

    Thank you in advice for your help and advice..

    Best Regards,

    Rike

    1. Hi Rike san,

      Option 2 is better idea. Takayama Hokuriku area pass gives you the ride for the bus to Shirakawago. Kansai thru pass gives you much better coverage than Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Hi there,

    Here is my itinerary :
    17-20 Dec Osaka
    20-22 Dec (Kyoto) – 21 Dec will be day trip from Kyoto-Shirakawago
    22-26 Dec Tokyo

    Where can I get the train schedule departing from Kyoto stn to Kanazawa Stn?

    And which pass suit me best for the whole itinerary? Is it JR Pass?

    Thank you

      1. Hello,

        I hope that you can help us.

        We plan to go to Uozu- Toyamaa-ken this coming Friday (03/10).

        10:00 PM – 03/10 (Fri) departure from Kyoto Station

        11:00 AM – 03/12 (Sun) departure from Uozu-Toyama-ken – Kyoto

        Around how many hours is the travel time?
        I hope we could get the cheapest or maybe average price for the transportation.

        Thank you very much!

        1. Hi Gab,

          The cost is around 10000 yen and takes about 3 to 3.5 hour.

          But you cannot get Uozu if you leave Kyoto at 22:00. If you want to get Uozu in same day, you have to take Limited Express Thunderbird 38 that depart from Kyoto at 20:38. This is the last connection. If you take this train, you need to change trains at Kanazawa and Toyama, and arrive in Uozu midnight.

          You can find the detailed timetable and fare at hyperdia:
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

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