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.

Accommodation

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

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

Images

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. Takeshi san,

    Thank you so much for having this site and taking the time to answer questions. We are a family of 4 (two boy’s ages 18 and 20) who will be taking the following itinerary by Shinkansen.

    Tokyo-Matsumoto (via Nagano) May 16 in the morning.
    (by car until May 22 which we drop in Nanao)
    Nanao-Kyoto May 22 in the late afternoon or evening.
    Kyoto-Tokyo May 25 in the late afternoon or evening.

    We are deciding whether to take regular, green or splurge on Gran Class where they have it. I know that is probably silly but we have nothing like this in the United States so this is a chance to try something we would never otherwise experience.

    Does it make sense to buy a JR pass for this routing for any of the classes or would we be better off buying individual tickets?

    It’s not so easy to figure out because some websites say it is permitted to use the trains like the Nozomi with the JR passes and others say you cannot. Also figuring out the cost to upgrade to Green Class or Gran Class if you have a JR Pass is not obvious. I think the pass covers the basic fare but it’s not clear how much that is or what the upgrade fee would be.

    Finally I see that some routes have a “family fare” that discounts the cost but it’s not clear how to tell which trains have this or any other discount fare and whether it is available for any particular day and time.

    Again thank you for any help you can give advising me where to look to figure out the best way to book this routing.

    1. Hi Steve san,

      JR pass is not your choice because 14-day pass is too expensive to cover your trip and 7-day pass is too short. The regular fare ticket is the best choice. Please find the info about a regular ticket in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/for-non-jr-pass-travellers-guide-to-use-jr-single-ticket-basic-rules-validity-and-stopover.html

      You also can find some info about the train reservation in the station in the movie below:
      https://youtu.be/KthaJop2-zU

      If you have a chance, I highly recommend you to ride the limite express train “Hanayome Noren” from Nanao to Kanazawa. The link below is in Japanese but you may find how nice this train is. It’s like Japanese Ryokan style train.
      https://www.jr-odekake.net/railroad/kankoutrain/area_hokuriku/hanayomenoren/

      You may find the timetable in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/seasonal-train-schedule#Hanayome_Noren
      Wakura Onsen is the departure station but you can ride this from Nanao. The train comes 5 minutes after the departure time of Wakura onsen.

      Family fare is not available for this trip and it applies to a few kinds of trips. And it covers family with small child only. Regular adult fare applies to 12 years old and up.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,

        If I have the Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass, can I use it to take the Hanayome Noren train? I will be spending 2 days in Kanazawa from 31/1 to 2/2.

        Thanks for creating this amazing site in helping us all!

        Gene

  2. Hi,

    Takeshi san,

    Would like some advice on going to Shirakawago from Osaka.

    I have already gotten my JR Pass because I would be using it often from Yokohama to Atami, Atami to Yokohama, and then Yokohama to Shin-osaka (on separate days), which I felt is necessary since it will cover the Shonan Shinjuku line as well. (However, if by your expertise, it was not, then please do tell me so I can plan better in the future.) Thank you.

    My aunt is interested in going to Shirakawago on 18 Feb and we are staying at Shin Osaka station. And thank you for your post that we can reach Kanazawa directly from Shin Osaka, where I can purchase a bus ticket to Shirakawago. However, I would like to ask about seats on Limited Express Thunderbird. Where can I reserve seats? Can I reserve when I reserve my seats for the Shinkansen as well?

    1. Hi Jess san,

      Once you turn in your JR pass after arriving in Japan. You can book a seat anytime and any major JR stations. Of course you can do it in Yokohama station, Atami station as welll. I usually complete all bookings when I exchange the pass.

      I don’t think you can get the worth of JR pass by a few round trips between Yokohama and Atami by Shonan-Shijuku line, and one way trip from Yokohama to Shin-Osaka. But you will use JR pass for the round trip to Kanazawa at this time. You may get the worth of it.

      You may use hyperdia to find the fare before you buy JR pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Konnichiwa, Takeshi!

    Should I get a 7-day JR Pass with this itinerary?
    Dec 25 : Kansai Airport to Osaka hotel
    Dec 26 – 27 : around Osaka area
    Dec 27 – 29 : Osaka to Kanazawa (via Limited Express Thunderbird)
    Dec 29 – 31 : Osaka / Kyoto / Kobe
    Jan 1 : Osaka to Kansai Airport

    Your advice would be very much appreciated.
    Domo arigato gosaimas!

    Bernadette

    1. Hi Bernadette,

      JR pass is too expensive and you cannot get the worth of it by your trip plan. You may use Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kansai-hokuriku-area-pass-perfect-deal-for-the-traveller-who-wants-travel-to-kansai-kanazawa-and-toyama.html

      You can use this for the last 7 days of your trip. But this pass does not cover reserved seat. You have to take a seat in non reserved car. December 28th and 29th will be busiest days in the year.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/travel-tips/2019-busiest-period-to-travel-by-train-tips-to-book-your-seat-in-even-during-the-busy-period.html

      When you go back to Osaka from Kanazawa on 29th, I recommend you to go to the platform 30 minutes before the departure time. Actually Osaka to Kanazawa is much busier than Kanazawa to Osaka. But the train from Kanazawa to Osaka will be busier than usual too..

      You may use other deal or a regular ticket on 25th. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-from-kansai-airport-to-downtown-osaka-kyoto-and-kobe.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    Appreciate very much if you could advice my following itinerary on which would be the types of passes to get for the shortest travel time:

    3 Dec – 9 Dec: Osaka (staying at Hilton Osaka and using Osaka as a base to travel to Kyoto for 2 to 3 days)
    9 Dec – 11 Dec: USJ
    11 Dec – 12 Dec: Osaka to Nagoya from Hilton Osaka. (Staying at Richmond Hotel Nayabashi Nagoya)
    12 Dec – 14 Dec: Takayama and Shirakawago (staying at Okuhida Garden Hotel Yakedake in Takayama)
    14 Dec – 16 Dec: Back to Hilton Osaka

    I have been doing research on the transport system and am still confused.

    Would you advice we rent a car from 11 Dec to 14 Dec while going to Nagoya, Takayama and Shirakawago if we have 5 adults and 2 children?

    1. Hi Shirley,

      If you arrive in KIX, you may take the airport limousine:
      http://www.kate.co.jp/en/timetable/detail/UM

      For staying in Osaka, please see the link below to find the deal:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-choose-the-best-train-pass-for-sightseeing-in-osaka.html\

      But you can use Kansai thru pass to visit Kyoto:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/how-to-use-kansai-thru-pass-compare-pass-and-single-fare.html

      You don’t need a pass when you visit USJ. Just pay the regular fare.

      For Osaka to Nagoya, the Shinkansen is the fastest way. If you want to take the fastest train “Nozomi”, there is no deals. But if you are okay with slower train “Kodama” on the Shinkansen, you may use Platt Kodama:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-residents/platt-kodama-one-way-deal-among-tokyo-nagoya-kyoto-and-shin-osaka-by-shinkansen.html

      Rent a car is okay if you have an experience to drive in the winter condition. Otherwise it’s not recommended. You can use Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass for Nagoya-Takayama/Shirakawago-Nagoya.
      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

      If you are okay with going back from Kanazawa after Taayama/Shirakawago, you don’t need to pay extra. But if you go back to Osaka via Nagoya, you have to pay Nagoya to Osaka again. Please see the link below to find the route to/from Takayama:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-to-takayama-by-trains-and-buses.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Which pass should I buy if our family of 3; 2 adults and 1 child are travelling on Dec 3 to Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Takayama and Shirakawago, back to Nagoya for 2 nights and thereafter to Osaka again before leaving for Singapore.

          1. Following are my itineraries from 3 Dec to 16 Dec:
            3/12: Reach Kansai Airport at 10pm.
            4/12: USJ
            5/12: Kyoto – Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari, Gion
            6/12: Kyoto – Arashiyama, Toei Studio
            7-8/12: Osaka
            9/12: Nagoya Mariott Associa, Legoland
            10-11/12: Takayama, Shirakawago
            12-13/12: Nagoya
            14-16/12: Osaka
            16/12: Home sweet home

            1) With such itineraries, which pass do you recommend that we buy for 2 Adults and 1 Child.
            2) Would you suggest we just get Icoca or Suica card during our stay in Osaka and Kyoto?
            3) From Osaka to Nagoya round trip, what pass should we get?

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