Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass user guide. Perfect deal for the traveler who wants travel to Kansai, Kanazawa and Toyama.

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Dotonbori (Osaka/left) and Higashi Chaya district (Kanazawa/right)   	©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO  (Osaka/left) / © Kanazawa City/© JNTO (Kanazawa/right)
Dotonbori (Osaka/left) and Higashi Chaya district (Kanazawa/right) ©Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO (Osaka/left) / © Kanazawa City/© JNTO (Kanazawa/right)

Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass will be released after three JR West’s new passes, Sanyo Sanin Area Pass, Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass and Hiroshima Yamaguchi Area Pass. It will be on sale on 14th March, 2015. This is the first ever deal that covers Kansai area (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe) and Hokuriku area (Kanazawa, Toyama). JR West has been selling Kansai Wide Area Pass and Hokuriku Area Pass. This pass is the deal that these passes are combined. It is much more convenient than combination of two passes and much easier to purchase.

I believe this pass will be very useful for travellers who stay in Kansai and travel to Hokuriku area and other area of outside Kansai. I am very happy to share the information of this pass with you in this post.

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Coverage Area

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This pass covers whole part of Kansai area, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, Kansai Airport, Himeji and Wakayama. It also includes Sanyo Shinkansen between Shin-Osaka and Okayama, and Hokuriku Shinkansen between Kanazawa and Joetsu-Myoko. This pass includes many more conventional lines as well, such as line to Takamatsu in Shikoku, Kinosaki Onsen, Shirahama and Shingu in Kii peninsula, Fukui, Kanazwa and Wakura-Onsen too. You may access to Toyama, Itoigawa by Hokuriku Shinkansen.

We have never had the pass that covers both Kansai and Hokuriku. Many visitors wanted to have a deal to Kanazawa from Osaka or Kyoto. Finally we will have that we want!

As you see, this pass does not cover most part of Japan, such as Hokkaido, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kanazawa, Takayama, most part of Shikoku and Kyush. So if you intend to travel throughout Japan or travel to Tokyo, Hokkaido or Kyushu, Japan Rail Pass is maybe more suitable for you.

*Osaka – Tokyo one way trip is not enough to use JR Pass. Please see the the post, Japan Rail Pass user guide. How to use JR Pass to its maximum.

Valid trains, bus services, routes and class

Hokuriku Shinkansen between Kanazawa and Joetsu-Myoko is covered by this deal.
Hokuriku Shinkansen between Kanazawa and Joetsu-Myoko is covered by this deal.

All daytime trains in coverage area are covered. But reserved seat fee is NOT included. You have to take non reserved ordinary seat. Most of limited express and Shinkansen trains have non reserved seat. And Green seat is not covered fully either. If you want to take Green seat, this pass covers base fare only. You have to pay full of express supplement and Green seat fare.

As of mid April 2017, this pass started to cover JR bus in Kyoto, Fukui and Kanazawa. In Kanazawa, you can take JR bus to get Kanazawa castle, Kenrokuen garden, Korinbo and Omicho market. In Kyoto, you can get Ryoan-ji temple, Kitano-Tenmangu shrine, Takao area via Nijo. This pass also covers Obamba to/from Omi-Imazu bus service and Sonobe to/from Fukuchiyama bus service.

This pass also started to cover Kyoto Tango railway as of mid April, 2017. You can get Amanohashidate, Miyazu without any extra charge.

When you use this deal, there are a few exceptions. You have to know that before you choose this deal. Please see the below to learn.

Tokaido Shinkansen among Maibara, Kyoto and Shin-Osaka

Even though it is in the coverage area, you cannot take Shinkansen train in this segment. Because Tokaido Shinkansen belongs to other JR company, JR Central. It is same JR Group company and many trains go through both areas each other. But technically it is different company. Therefore this deal cannot include this Shinkansen segment. When you depart from Kyoto or Maibara and take Shinkansen, you have to take Special Rapid Service to Shin-Osaka and then transfer to Shinkansen train there.

NON JR lines, IR Ishikawa Railway and Ainokaze Toyama Railway

This pass does not cover any NON JR lines. But it covers IR Ishikawa Railway between Kanazawa and Tsubata, and Ainokaze Toyama railway between Toyama and Takaoka. Because JR West own Tsubata to Wakura-Onsen, Takaoka to Himi and Takaoka to Johana. Especially you can never get Tsubata to Wakura-Onsen without NON JR trains. That is why these segments are allowed to take by this pass. On these NON JR segments, you cannot make any stopover. You can exit the station at departure and arrival points, Toyama, Takaoka, Tsubata and Kanazawa only.

Kagawaki on Hokuriku Shinkansen

Kagayaki that is the fastest train on Hokuriku Shinkansen does not have any non reserved seats. This pass does not cover any reserved seats. You cannot take this train. You can get other Hokuriku Shinkansen trains, Hakutaka and Tsurugi.

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Hotels in Kanazawa
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Price, eligibility and how to purchase

This pass is available for temporary visitor only. If you are resident, you can’t purchase it.

JR West is the first company that has different price tag for same product. Please see the below:

Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass 7-day

 Purchasing from the travel agent overseas
(Before arrival)
Purchasing from JR West online
(Before arrival)
Purchasing from JR West station
(After arrival)
Adult15,270 yen16,090 yen16,290 yen
Child
(6-11 years old)
7,630 yen8,040 yen8,140 yen

As you have seen, you can purchase this pass after you arrive in Japan. But you have to pay 1000 yen more.

If you want to purchase this at 15,000 yen, you can purchase it at authorized travel agents. You can find the dealers list and exchange location at the link below:

JR West Rail Pass Dealer’s list

You also can purchase this pass online through JR West official site. But the price is not much cheaper than the price which is sold at the station.

Valid period

It is valid for 7 days. One day means midnight to midnight, technically 0:00 to 23:59. So try to start in the morning. It does not make sense to start to use in the evening.

You can purchase this pass only once per visit if you purchase online or inside Japan. If you purchase it at authorized agents outside Japan, you can purchase as many as you want. If you need more coverage, please think about combining with other deals in Kansai area, like Kansai Thru Pass or Kansai Area Pass or pick up other deals, like Japan Rail Pass.

Compare to single fares

Base fare and surcharge for the major segments are the following. Please compare the price of Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass and these fares. If you use Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass, these following fare, both base fare and surcharge, are covered.

*All surcharges in the following table are non reserved seat rate.

SegmentBase fareSurcharge
Osaka – Kyoto560 yen
Osaka – Sannomiya (Kobe)410 yen
Osaka – Nara800 yen
Kyoto – Nara710 yen
Osaka – Himeji1490 yen1730 yen
Osaka – Kansai Airport1190 yen970 yen
Osaka – Okayama3020 yen2480 yen
Osaka – Kinosaki Onsen3350 yen1730 yen
Osaka – Kanazawa4750 yen2380 yen
Kyoto – Kanazawa4000 yen2380 yen
Osaka – Toyama5620 yen4220 yen
Kyoto – Toyama5080 yen4220 yen
Kanazwa – Toyama970 yen1840 yen

As you see, Osaka-Kanazawa one way fare and surcharge total amount is 7,130 yen. Round trip to Kanazawa from Osaka is slightly smaller than online purchase price, 15,000 yen. But you will use this pass in Kansai area, like Osaka-Kyoto, Kyoto-Nara. It is not difficult to pay off.

Assessment

I believe this deal will be fit to many travellers who want to go to Kanazawa and Toyama. At this point, Takayama Hokuriku Tourist Pass is available but this pass will be on sale until June.

Takayama – Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass. Perfect deal to get Takayama, Kanazawa, Shirakawago from Nagoya or Osaka

After that, this pass may be substitute choice for the tranvellers who want to go to Shirakawago via Kanazawa. If you have a plan to go to Hokuriku area when you stay in Kansai area, this pass is the best choice. Kanazzwa can be visited as day trip from Osaka or Kyoto.

How to access to Kanazawa and Toyama from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Niigata.

You can visit other side of Kansai area, like Kinosaki Onsen and Shirahama by this pass.

This pass gives you many way to enjoy Kansai and outside Kansai area.

Comments

  1. audrey says:

    Dear Takeshi-san

    I am arriving in Osaka at 9.20pm flight for a 9 day trip. So I am planning to visit Osaka, Mt Koya, Nara, Kyoto in 9 days. Would you recommend this Kansai Hakuriku pass?

    If I skip Mt Koya and visit Hiroshima/Miyajima instead, is the JR pass a better deal?

    Thank you very much.

    Audrey

  2. Janice says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I am finalizing the details for my upcoming trip in Nov.

    19th – Arrive in KIX @ 0650 and take train to Toyama
    19th – 23rd -Stay in Toyama for 4 nights ( I plan to go to Tateyama Alps on 20th Nov, do you think that the weather will be too cold?) Is 4 nights too much for Toyama?
    23rd – Toyama to Kanazawa (2 nights)
    25th to 28th – Kyoto
    28th to 1st Dec – Osaka, departing via KIX

    I was thinking of going to Shirakawago/ Takayama along the way.

    Is the Kansai- Hokuriku pass still the best? The pass does not cover Shirakawago/Takayama. As such, any other passes available? Or is driving a better option (there are 7 adults and 1 child in my party).

    Any comment /suggestion is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Janice

    • Hi Janice san,

      Tateyama Kurobe in late November is winter season and it’s very cold. Many tourists enjoy ski around Murodo area. Officially it’s open until end of November. But in this season, this route is closed very often because of snow.

      If you really want to go there, you must prepare winter shoes, cloth and other winter gears. Honestly in this season, this route is not recommended.

      In my opinion, 4 nights in Toyama is too much. Even if you go to Tateyama Kurobe, 2 or 3 nights is okay. Takayama and Shirakawago can be accessed from Kanazawa by bus. But if you take these transportation, Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is much better deal because it includes bus to Shirakawago.
      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

      But this pass is valid for 5 days only. You need to shorten your trip in Hokuriku area if you use this pass.

      I’m not very familiar with rent a car in Japan. But I think it’s hard to find the car that can take 8 passengers. You may need two cars. And also, road is very slippery and may be winter condition in mountain area, such as Shirakawago. If you don’t have any experience in winter condition. driving is not recommended.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

    • Janice says:

      Thanks again Takeshi-san for your prompt response.

      After considering your comments, I will skip the Tateyama Kurobe and spend 2 nights at Toyama instead of 4.

      What do you think of Kurobe Gorge? In looking at their website, best time to visit for Koyo leaves viewing is until 10th Nov. Do you think it is worthwhile going?

      Would I be able to use the Kansai Hokuriku pass from Toyama to UnazakiOnsen? From what I gather, the best route is to take the Toyama Chiho to Unazaki, is that right?

      What about the Shinhotaka Ropeway will it be closed?

      Thank you!

      Regards
      Janice

      • Hi Janice,

        I don’t recommend Kurobe gorge either. Usually fall foliage can be seen until early November but you will be there late November. It’s too late to see it. I think there is no place to see fall foliage in mountain area. You may see it in Kyoto or other low elevation area. It may be snowing in mountain side.

        Toyama Chiho Railway is not JR line and not covered. This pass covers only JR line.

        Shin-Hodaka Ropeway is open year round.

        Cheers,

        Takeshi / JPRail.com

        • janice says:

          Thanks so much Takeshi-san. I will have to revisit my itinerary again.

          Regards
          Janice

          • Janice says:

            Sorry to be bother again Takeshi-san.

            I might just want to give the Kurobe Gorge a try…(though I know I will miss the Koyo leaves. I’ll get to see Koyo in Kyoto :))

            Does the Kansai-Hokuriku pass covers the trip from – – Toyama to UnazakiOnsen?
            – Toyama to Takoaka Station and Himi?

            I am a bit confused as there is a note which says
            “As a special exception, the pass can be used for the Himi, Johana, or Nanao lines only if the pass-holder does not alight from the IR Ishikawa Railway ”

            Thank you once again!

            Regards
            Janice

            • Hi Janice,

              You can get Kurobe-Unazukionsen station by Hokuriku Shinkansen. Toyama Chiho railway’s Unazuki station is not covered.
              Himi is in coverage area. The “Exception” means non JR line that is covered by this rail pass. It’s shown by red solid line in the map above, such as Toyama-Takaoka, Kanazawa-Tsubata. Only these sections are NON JR lines that are covered by the pass.

              If you go to Himi from Toyama, you can take Non JR line to get Takaoka and transfer to Himi line. Or take Hokuriku Shinkansen to get Shin-Takaoka and transfer to Johana line to Takaoka. In this case, you have to transfer twice at Shin-Takaoaka and Takaoka.

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Elaine Lam says:

    Dear Sir,

    Your posts have been most informative. Thank you for the important info.

    I am reading up for my family trip to Japan for 10 days in Dec. We intend to visit Sapporo ( for the longest 3 nights stay), Aomori, Nagoya, Kanazawa, Nara, Kobe and Osaka. From what I gathered, we need a 7 day JR Pass and a Kansai Horukiru 5 day Pass for our journey. We are wondering whether we should fly to and fro to Hokkaido to save time instead of using the railway. Are we using the passes right?

    Can you help us with this itinerary?.

  4. KC says:

    1. It looks like this pass does not cover Nagoya. Does it?

    This is my itinerary:

    Osaka – Kyoto – Kanazawa – Toyama (day trip Alpine Route and up to Murodo only, I know this is not covered by the pass) – back to Toyama – Kanazawa – Nohi bus to Shirakawago – Takayama – Nagoya – Osaka

    My Questions:
    2. on my way from Toyama to Shirakawago, is there a train instead of Nohi bus?

    • Hi KC,

      1. This pass does not cover Nagoya. If you intend to use this pass for Osaka-Toyama and Toyama-Kanazawa, single fare is cheaper.

      2. No. Shirakawago can be accessed from Kanazawa, Takayama or Shin-Takaoka (Kaetsuno bus).
      It’s Japanese timetable from Shin-Takaoka.
      http://www.kaetsunou.co.jp/sekaiisan/sekaiisan-bus-new.html
      Fare is 1800 yen. Shin-Takaoka departures are the second row of 8:25 in the first table. Shirakawago is the last row.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Cristina says:

    Hi:

    We plan to go to Takayama, Kanazawa, Shirakawago/Gotayama from Kyoto. We leave Kyoto on June 1 and then on June 3, we make our way to Tokyo.
    Is this Pass the most convenient, economical and best way to cover all of these areas? Can we use this pass all the way to Tokyo? Can we also use this pass coming from Osaka, Kyoto and then the Takayama, Kanazawa, shirakawago area, Tokyo?

    Can you suggest how we can best travel by rail for our schedule below:
    May 26-28 Osaka
    May 29-31 Kyoto
    June 1-2 Kanazawa, Takayama, Shirakawago-is two nights enough time for this area?
    June 3-6 Tokyo

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  6. Sharmaine says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    Thank you so much for your advice! We are currently based in South Korea and we want to ensure that we will have seats on the Tokyo – Shinano Omachi route and Toyama-Osaka route. Should we buy the pass in South Korea or will we be able to purchase it at Narita Airport? Thank you!

    • Hi Sharmaine san,

      You can purchase JR pass exchange order at South Korea.
      http://www.japanrailpass.net/area_01.html

      And you may turn in an actual pass at Narita. But if you use the pass for Narita-Shinanomachi and Toyama-Osaka, single fare is cheaper than the pass.
      Even if you purchase the pass, you cannot book it in advance. You can go ahead for booking after you arrive in Japan anyway. Especially overnight train Moonlight Shinshu will be tough. Usually Toyama-Kanazawa-Osaka is okay. But it will be Golden Week and it may be busier than usual.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Sharmaine says:

    Dear Takeshi-san,

    I woud like to use the Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass to explore the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto.

    Here is my initial plan:
    Day 1 (1 May): Take the overnight Moonlight Shinshu from Tokyo to Shin-Omanachi.
    Day 2 (2 May): Finish the Alpine Route and we will be at Toyama Station. Take the Shinkanasen Tsurugi from Toyama to Kanazawa and change to the Thunderbird from Kanazawa to Osaka. Arrive in Osaka before midnight.
    Day 3 (3 May): Osaka – Kyoto round trip
    Day 4 (4 May): Osaka – Nara round trip

    May I know if all trains are covered by the Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass? Is the local subway covered too?

    Where can I purchase this pass in South Korea, or can I purchase it at Tokyo Narita airport?

    Thank you!

  8. june says:

    Hi, Takeshi san,

    Just wondering that the JR Hokuriku Pass and Kansai Hokuriku Pass is the same type ?

    This is my plan :
    20/5 Kansai Airport to Kanazawa
    21/5 Kanazawa to Toyama
    22/5 Toyama – Tateyama – Alpine Route – Matsumoto
    23/5 Matsumoto – Takayama
    24/5 Takayama to shirakawa
    25/5 Takayama
    26/5 Takayama – Gero Onsen
    27/5 Gero – Nagoya
    28/5 Nagoya – Yokohama
    29/5 Yokohama – Tsukiji Fish market – Hakone – Yokohama
    30/5 Yokohama – Airport

    any recommendation cheapest pass for my trip?

    Regards

  9. Janice says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    We are planning a 12 day trip to Japan The flight arrives at KIX on 19th Nov and departing from KIX on 1st Dec. My party includes 7 adults and a 3 year old kid.

    This is my initial plan.
    19th Nov – Arrive KIX
    19th Nov – Stay overnight at Kyoto
    20th Nov – Leave for Kanazawa (2 nights, 2 nights Toyama?.)
    24th Nov – Kanazawa – Kyoto ( 4 nights)
    28th Nov – Kyoto to Osaka

    Which segment should I use since it is a 7 day pass?
    Should I purchase KIX- Kyoto – using ICOCA and Haruka pass?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

    Cheers!
    Janice

    I plan to cover Kyoto-Kanezawa (including Tateyama Kurobe)-Osaka.

  10. Jenny Tan says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    Need your advice ….

    We will be visiting Osaka 13-19 MAY 2015.
    We will be going to Toyama on 14 May-16 MAY
    We want to visit Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route on 15MAY-
    Can you please advise us which pass should we buy before visiting Japan

    Thanks so much…

    Regards,
    Jenny n daughters

    • Hi Jenny,

      You can use this pass, Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass. This pass does not cover Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route. So you need to add all fares from Toyama to Alpine route.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

    • Jenny Tan says:

      Hi Takeshi san,

      Thank you for your advice.
      Can I use this Kansai Hokuriku Area Pass on JR THUNDERBIRD
      from Osaka to Toyama ??
      Wat is JR Conventional Line ?
      Is JR THUNDERBIRD the same as JR Conventional Line ?

      Regards,
      Jenny

      • Hi Jenny,

        Yes. You can take Thunderbird from Osaka to Kanazawa. You have to change to Hokuriku Shinkansen at Kanazawa to Toyama.
        All conventional line’s trains are cover by this pass too. Conventional line means other than Shinkansen. Limited Express Thunderbird is express train that runs on conventional line.

        Cheers,

        Takeshi / JP Rail

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