Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass user guide. Perfect deal to travel Takayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Shirakawago from Nagoya or Osaka

Tanabata festival decoration in Takayama ©Y.Shimizu/©JNTO
Tanabata festival decoration in Takayama ©Y.Shimizu/©JNTO

This train pass has been very popular to travel Kanazawa, Takayama and Shirakawago. The train route to these destinations from Nagoya and Osaka are covered. However there are some restrictions. You may be confused how you use this pass.

In this post, I will clarify the condition and the coverage area of this pass. You will find what you can do and what you cannot do by this pass in this post. I also compare the price of pass and a regular fare. You will easily find how you can get the worth of this pass.

Who is eligible

Visitors who land as “Temporary Visitor” status can purchase this pass.

Types, prices and conditions

There is only 5 days pass.

TYPESAdultChild (6-11yrs)
5 Days14,000 yen7,000 yen

*5 year old or younger child is free. Maximum 2 children per one adult. But one of your adult traveler must share the seat with the child who is 5 years old or younger.

The pass must be used in consecutive days. The validity of a rail pass starts from 12 O’clock at night.

e.g.
If you start to use 5 days pass on May 1, the pass is expired at 23:59 on May 5.

You may book a reserved seat in the train up to 4 times by this pass. This four times booking seat fee is covered. But you cannot book a seat on Limited Express Haruka and Hokuriku Shinkansen. This four times reservation does not include Nohi bus reservation. I will tell you about this restriction later.

Sales location

You CANNOT purchase this pass in Japan. You have to purchase an exchange order before you leave your country. You can find the sales location list in the official site in the link below:

Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass official site

Coverage area and valid transportation

Kentrokuen garden is one of three best Japanese Gardens.  ©JTA/ ©JNTO
Kentrokuen garden is one of three best Japanese Gardens. ©JTA/ ©JNTO

The pass covers Osaka, Kyoto, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama, Gero, Gifu and Nagoya. Please see the coverage map below:

The coverage area of this pass is blue shaded.

Basically this pass covers JR trains, Nohi Bus and Kaetsuno Bus in the coverage area. I would like to show you the key train and bus services one by one.

Limited Express Haruka and Kansai Airport Rapid train

Limited Express Haruka connects Kansai airport, Tennoji, Shin-Osaka and Kyoto.

Haruka operation route shown by a bold red line

If you start using this pass right after you arrive in Kansai airport, you may take this train. This train has both reserved seat car and non reserved seat car. But this pass covers only non reserved seat car. This train does not stop at Osaka. Please see the link below to find more information about Haruka:

Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka

If you cannot take Haruka, you can take Kansai Airport Rapid train too. This is a sort of commute trains. Haruka has nicer interior.

Kansai Airport Rapid Service

Local train service in downtown Osaka

This pass covers a local train in Osaka, such as Osaka Kanjo line (Osaka loop line). You can get many places by this pass in Osaka. Please see the link below to find the information about JR local train service in Osaka:

Limited Express Thunderbird (Osaka, Kyoto – Kanazawa)

This train is a primary way to get Kanazawa from Osaka or Kyoto.

Limited Express Thunderbird operation route shown by a bold red line

You can book a reserved seat on this train by this pass. But you have to make a reservation after you arrive in Japan.

Nohi Bus (Kanazawa – Shirakawago – Takayama), Kaetsuno Bus (Shin Takaoka – Shirakawago)

Both bus services are shown by a green line in the coverage map above.

Most of you take Nohi Bus to get Shirakawago. You also take this bus when you move between Takayama and Kanazawa. All bus services between Kanazawa and Shirakawago requires an advanced booking. You cannot book online and you have to make a call to book a seat. A few bus services can be taken without reservation between Takayama and Shirakawago. You can find the phone number and timetable at Nohi Bus Official Site.

If you want to visit Ainokura, Suganuma and/or Gokayama, you will take Kaetsuno Bus. Reservation is not required.

The Hokuriku Shinkansen (Kanazawa – Toyama)

The Shinkansen train runs very frequently between Kanazawa and Toyama.

Hokuriku Shinkansen route which is covered by this pass. (shown by a red bold line)

This pass does not allow you to book a seat on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. There are three kinds of trains running on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Those are Kagayaki, Hakutaka and Tsurugi. But the fastest train “Kagayaki” does not have any non reserved seat cars. You have to take other two trains, Hakutaka or Tsurugi on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Usually Tsurugi has lots of empty seats and easily can take a seat in non reserved cars.

Please find more details about the Hokuriku Shinkansen in the following link:

Hokuriku Shinkansen, Direct access to Kanazawa, Nagano and Toyama from Tokyo

Find your hotels in 400 cities throughout Japan!!!

Hotels in Takayama
Hotels in Kanazawa
Hotels in Shirakawago

Limited Express Wide View Hida (Nagoya – Takayama – Toyama)

This is very popular train to get Takayama. The scenery is very nice from this train.

Limited Express Wide View Hida operation route (shown by a bold red line)

This train runs once an hour in daytime between Nagoya and Takayama. But this train runs only a few times between Takayama and Toyama. If you cannot take this train between Toyama and Takayama, you can take a local train. But there is no direct local train between Toyama and Takayama. You have to change trains at Inotani between Takayama and Toyama.

Please see the link below to find more information about Wide View Hida:

You can book a reserved seat on this train by this pass. But you have to make a reservation after you arrive in Japan.

Train which is not covered at all or partially

This pass does not cover any train services between Gifu and Kyoto. This means you cannot make a circle tour by this pass. I would like to show you some trains which are not covered by this pass and how much you have to pay extra.

The Tokaido Shinkansen (Nagoya – Kyoto – Shin Osaka)

It is not covered at all. Even though the Shinkansen runs partially between Kyoto and Shin-Osaka in the coverage area, it is not covered at all. You may consider using Platt Kodama for this segment. Please see the link below to find more information about Platt Kodama:

Platt Kodama (The Shinkansen Kodama deal)

Osaka departure of Limited Express Wide View Hida (Osaka – Kyoto – Gifu – Takayama)

One round trip of Wide View Hida runs between Osaka and Takayama. However this train runs outside the coverage area partially.

This train runs outside the coverage area between Kyoto and Gifu.

If you take this train, you have to pay for Kyoto – Gifu. The one way extra cost (the base fare and the reserved seat fee) is 4,290 yen. Reserved seat fee is covered in the coverage area. But you have to use two of four times seat booking for Takayama – Gifu and Osaka – Kyoto. If you take this route, you have to book a seat for both inside coverage area and outside coverage area at same time. You can get a same seat all the way.

Limited Express Shirasagi (Kanazawa – Nagoya)

If you move between Nagoya and Kanazawa, Limited Express Shirasagi is the fastest way. However this train runs outside the coverage area partially.

The segment between Tsuruga and Gifu is outside the coverage area.

If you take this train, you have to pay for Tsuruga – Gifu. The one way extra cost (the base fare and the reserved seat fee) is 3,360 yen. Reserved seat fee is covered in the coverage area. But you have to use two of four times seat booking for Nagoya – Gifu and Kanazawa – Tsuruga. If you take this route, you have to book a seat for both inside coverage area and outside coverage area at same time. You can get a same seat all the way.

If you want to avoid this extra cost, you can take one of these following routes:

  • Limited Express Wide View Hida (Nagoya – Toyama), Hokuriku Shinkansen (Toyama – Kanazawa)
  • Limited Express Wide View Hida (Nagoya – Takayama), Nohi Bus (Takayama – Kanazawa)

These routes are covered by trip time is much longer than Limited Express Shirasagi. If you take Limited Express Shirasagi, the trip time is 3 hours and get Nagoya from Kanazawa without changing trains. But if you take one of these above routes, the travel time is 4.5 hours and you have to change trains or train/bus. Please think which choice is better for you, spending 1.5 hours or spending 3,360 yen.

Local train service in downtown Kyoto

You can get Kyoto by this pass. But after you arrive in Kyoto, this pass does not help you at all. You cannot get even some spots in Kyoto by this pass. JR lines connect Arashiyama and Fushimi from Kyoto station. But this pass does not cover these lines.

Trip to Nara, Trip to Kobe

These cities are a step away from Kyoto or Osaka. But these cities are not in the coverage area. Please do not think using this pass even partially. Just pay as you go or think about using other deal:

Kansai ticket guide

Compare cost between pass and single fare

First of all, please see the fare table for major segments below:

One way fare

Kansai airport – Shin-Osaka by Limited Express NON reserved seat2330 yen
Kansai airport – Kyoto by Limited Express NON reserved seat2850 yen
Osaka – Kanazawa by Limited Express reserved seat7650 yen
Kyoto – Kanazawa by Limited Express reserved seat6900 yen
Nagoya – Takayama by Limited Express reserved seat6030 yen
Toyama – Takayama by Limited Express reserved seat3360 yen
Toyama – Kanazawa by Hokuriku Shinkansen NON reserved seat2810 yen
Kanazawa – Shirakawago by Nohi bus1850 yen
Takayama – Shirakawago by Nohi bus2470 yen
Kanazawa – Takayama by Nohi bus3390 yen
Shirakawago – Shin-Takaoka by Kaetsuno bus1800 yen

I show you some itineraries and compare costs. You may find more information about the access to Takayama and Kanazawa at the links below:

Round trip to Shirakawago via Kanazawa from Osaka by the Limited Express Thunderbird and Nohi bus

Limited Express "Thunderbird"
The limited express Thunderbird runs between Osaka/Kyoto and Kanazawa.

Return fares by Limited Express Thunderbird between Osaka and Kanazawa 7650 yen X 2 = 15300 yen
Return fares by Nohi bus between Kanazawa and Shirakawago 1850 yen X 2 = 3900 yen
Total 19200 yen

Even if you don’t go to Takayama, this pass is still cheaper than single fare. If you depart from Kyoto, the pass is way cheaper than single fare too.

You may find the timetable of the limited express Thunderbird in the link below:

JPRail.com PDF timetable (valid until mid October 2019)

Round trip to Shirakawago via Takayama from Nagoya by the Limited Express Wide View Hida and Nohi bus

Wide View Hida at Toyama station
The limited express Wide View Hida by KIHA85 series at Toyama station (C) JP Rail

Return fares by Limited Express Wide View Hida between Nagoya and Takayama 6030 yen X 2 = 12060 yen
Return fares by Nohi bus between Takayama and Shirakawago 2470 yen X 2 = 4940 yen
Total 17000 yen

Many travellers who stay in Nagoya want to visit Shirakawago. This pass is much cheaper than single fare as well.

You may find the timetable of the limited express Wide View Hida in the link below:

JPRail.com PDF timetable (valid until mid October 2019)

One way trip to Nagoya from Osaka via Kanazawa, Shirakawago and Takayama

World Heritage Shirakawago has lots of traditional Japanese residences. ©Akimasa Yuasa/©JNTO
World Heritage Shirakawago has lots of traditional Japanese residences. ©Akimasa Yuasa/©JNTO

Single fare by Limited Express Thunderbird between Osaka and Kanazawa 7650 yen
Single fare by Nohi bus between Kanazawa and Shirakawago 1850 yen
Single fare by Nohi bus between Kanazawa and Shirakawago 2470 yen
Single fare by Limited Express Wide View Hida between Nagoya and Takayama 6030 yen
Total 18000 yen

If you arrive in KIX and depart from Chubu and make this route in 5 days, you also include Kansai airport to Osaka. This itinerary is very attractive and this pass gives you a great saving!

Small circle trip from/to Osaka via Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama and Toyama

Most of  train is operated by this fleet, E6 / W6 series.
Most of train is operated by this fleet, E6 / W6 series.

Single fare by Limited Express Thunderbird between Osaka and Kanazawa 7650 yen
Single fare by Nohi bus between Kanazawa and Shirakawago 1850 yen
Single fare by Nohi bus between Shirakawago and Takayama 2470 yen
Single fare by Limited Express Wide View Hida between Takayama and Toyama 3360 yen
Single fare by Hokuriku Shikansen and Limited Express Thunderbird between Toyama and Osaka via Kanazawa 8910 yen
Total 24240 yen

Now you can make a different route on the way back to Osaka by this pass. You have only 5 days. But you can include Toyama. this pass does not cover any local transportation in Toyama. But you can visit Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route when you are in Toyama.
*You cannot go through Alpine route to Shinano-Omachi in this itinerary. It is completely outside coverage area. You have to make a round trip to Murodo or other point on Alpine route.

Suggested itinerary

Day 1 Osaka – Kanazawa
Day 2 Kanazawa – Shirakawago – Takayama
Day 3 Takayama – Toyama
Day 4 Toyama – Alpine route – Toyama or Kanazawa
Day 5 Toyama or Kanazawa – Osaka or KIX or Kyoto

Yes. You can do it in 5 days. If you arrive in Kansai airport early morning, you can start this sample right after you arrive in Kansai. You can reach Kanazawa on day 1.

Small circle trip from/to Nagoya via Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama and Toyama

Single fare by Limited Express Wide View Hida between Nagoya and Takayama 6030 yen
Single fare by Nohi bus between Takayama and Shirakawago 2470 yen
Single fare by Nohi bus between Shirakawago and Kanazawa 1850 yen
Single fare by Hokuriku Shikansen between Kanazawa and Toyama 2810 yen
Single fare by Limited Express Wide View Hida between Toyama and Nagoya 7650 yen
Total 20810 yen

It is similar plan as above but depart/arrive in Nagoya. You can make a trip to Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route in this itinerary too.

Suggested itinerary

Day 1 Nagoya – Takayama
Day 2 Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa
Day 3 Kanazawa – Toyama
Day 4 Toyama – Alpine route – Toyama
Day 5 Toyama – Nagoya

Assessment

This deal is highly recommended if you visit Takayama, Shirakawago and/or Kanazawa from Osaka, Kyoto or Nagoya. Especially the coverage of Nohi Bus and Kaetsuno Bus offers a big deal.

I hope this post helps you to build your trip plan.

1,024 thoughts on “Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass user guide. Perfect deal to travel Takayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Shirakawago from Nagoya or Osaka”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    You’ve been very helpful in my previous travels to Japan. Thank you for providing information. This time, my family and I (2 adults and 2 children) are planning to travel to Japan once again in January, particulary in Nagoya. We will be needing your help which pass would be suitable for our itinerary. I’m contemplating on getting either a Kintetsu Rail Plus Pass or Takayama Hokuriku Pass.

    Here is our itinerary:

    January 22- Arrival at Nagoya Airport, check in at our hotel in Nagoya
    January 23 Thursday (Day 1): Takayama, Shirakawa Go
    January 24 Friday (Day 2): Bokka No Sato (early morning), Nabano No Sato (afternoon)
    January 25 Saturday (Day 3): Nagoya to Universal Studios Osaka
    January 26 Sunday (Day 4): Nagoya City Tour

    I also have a question on using either of the pass that I mentioned in getting to Shirakawa-Go. I’m confused, can’t we take the train using a certain pass to Takayama then use the same pass to a bus to Shirakawa-Go or is it not covered at all? How do we reserve the bus? How soon can we call to reserve at Nohi Bus? And if we call them to reserve our ticket, how do we pay the tickets, should we pay upon arrival to Japan and upon picking up the tickets?

    Thank you so much for you help, Takeshi. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    1. Hi Ann,

      Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass covers the train to Takayama and the bus to Shirakawago. You can use this pass the trip on Jan 23. But this pass covers only this trip.

      You have to call to book a seat for Nohi bus. The seat is on sale one month prior to the travel date.
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/shirakawago.pdf

      Kintetsu Rail Pass covers the trip on Jan 23 and 24. But if you want to maximize your time in USJ, Kintetsu Rail Pass is not recommended. Because the Shinkansen is much faster. Please see the link below:
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/how-to-transfer-between-nagoya-and-osaka-kyoto-by-train.html

      If you want to take the Shinkansen, there is no deals. You have to buy a regular ticket which is around 6,500 yen one way. If you take the Shinkansen, Kintetsu rail pass is not the choice. When you go to Nabana no Sato, you may take the direct bus from Nagoya.
      https://www.nagashima-onsen.co.jp/nabana/illumination/access/index.html#train

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thanks for replying, Takeshi. I’ve changed my itinerary to the ff:

        Thursday Day 1: USJ from Nagoya
        Friday Day 2: Shirakawa-go, Takayama
        Saturday Day 3:Kanazawa, Toyama
        Sunday Day 4: Nagoya City Tour

        Questions:
        1. Do you think purchasing Takayama-Hokuriku Pass would be a great value for money?
        2. Can we use also use Takayama-Hokuriku Pass from Chubu-Nagoya and Nagoya back to Chubu on the 5th day?
        3. Is it reasonable to purchase a separate pass which is a Kintetsu Rail Pass just for our Day 1 trip to USJ? Or should we just purchase a roundtrip Kintetsu Rail ticket to and from USJ?

        Thanks so much.

        1. Hi Ann,

          1. Yes.
          2. No. It’s not covered. You have to pay the regular fare to take a train or a bus.
          3. You can get the worth of Kintetsu Rail Pass. But you have to add the limited express fare on top of the pass. Kintetsu rail pass does not cover the limited express seat fee.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi San

    I am interested in your itinerary but my starting and ending point is Tokyo, would this make sense, we have children (11 and 14 years) and some senior citizens so want to take it easy:

    Day 1 – Tokyo
    Day 2 – Toyama via JR Pass (overnight Toyama)
    Day 3 – Kanazawa
    Day 4 – Kanazawa
    Day 5 – Takayama via Shirakawa (overnight Takayama)
    Day 6 – Takayama
    Day 7 – Nagano or Matsumoto (overnight) before we return to Tokyo

    Its Day 7 that we are not sure whether it is easier to go from Takayama to Nagano to visit the Snow Monkeys and return to Tokyo Or should we go to Matsumoto and return to Tokyo. We don’t want too many changing of trains. Appreciate your kind advise.

    1. Hi Carol san,

      If you want to visit Snow Monkey Park, you should visit on the way to Toyama. It is much easier because Nagano is the gateway to Snow Monkey Park. Nagano is located in the middle of the trip from Tokyo to Toyama.

      If you go to Nagano from Takayama, you have to go to Toyama again and take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to get Nagano. It is okay but you have to spend 1.5 hours to get Toyama from Takayama.

      If you go to Matsumoto from Takayama, you should take the express bus. It is not covered by JR pass but it is much easier and faster:
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/highwaybus/matsumoto_en/

      If you take the trains to get Matsumoto from Takayama, you have to go to Nagoya and change trains. It is covered by JR pass fully but the trip time is more than 4 hours.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Day 1 – Tokyo
        Day 2 – Tokyo
        Day 3 – JR Train from Tokyo to Kanazawa
        Day 4 – Kanazawa
        Day 5 – Takayama via Shirakawa (overnight Takayama)
        Day 6 – Takayama
        Day 7 – JR Train from Takayama to Toyama
        Day 8 – JR Train from Toyama to Tokyo

        In this case, is it worth it for us to still take the 7-day Hokuriku Arch Pass or the regular 7-day JR Pass or buy individual train tickets? Appreciate your advice.

        1. Hi Carol,

          Hokuriku Arch Pass is slightly cheaper. Takayama is not in the coverage area of Hokuriku arch pass. So you have to pay the extra for Takayama to Inotani on the way to Toyama. If you take the limited express Wide View Hida, the extra fare (base fare + reserved seat fee) is 2,500 to 2,800 yen. Even if you add this fare on top of Hokuriku arch pass, it’s still cheaper than 7 days JR pass.

          But if you use JR pass, you can take the train to Nagoya from Takayama and then take the Shinkansen from Nagoya to Tokyo. You can take the different route and see the different scenery. That is other option for you.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hello Takeshi-san,

    My winter trip to Japan this round will be from 25/1 – 2/2. We are flying to and from Nagoya international airport. My family of 3 including our 5 year old plans to visit the following places:
    Day1: takayama (reaching airport at 8.30am) and Ainokura
    Day2: shin hotoka ropeway in the morning. Shirakawago in the evening and over night there hopefully for the light up
    Day3: Kanazawa
    Day4: Kaga or nearby onsen town
    Day5: Fukui dinasour museum, tojinbo and tsuruga
    Day6: okuibuki ski resort
    Day7-8: Nagoya

    We have been to Kanazawa before and would probably visit lesser places. As such 1 day is enough.

    My questions are:
    1) my original intention was to get the takayama hokuriku pass from day 1 to day 5 and rent a car from day 6-7. But after reading that the pass does not cover the trip to shin hotoka, i’m not sure if it would be worth it
    2) should I just rent car for the entire trip from day 1-7?
    3) does the nohi bus covered in the pass allow me to go to Shirawakago during light up and stay overnight or I need to leave the town? This is assuming I’m selected for the stay.

    Hopefully you can help me make a better decision. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jenny san,

      You cannot expect to have a big saving by using this pass. But you can get the worth of it.

      If you want to see the light up event in Shirakawago, you have to get a ticket to see it. Otherwise you cannot enter the village. Please read the link below carefully:
      https://shirakawa-go.gr.jp/en/events/lighup-2020/

      You can take the bus to Shirakawago by Nohi bus. But you have to book a seat in advance. In the light up season, it will be packed and super super busy. You have to make a call to book a seat in advance.
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/shirakawago.pdf

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thanks much Takeshi-san.
        One last question, I read that nohi bus goes to shin hotaka from takayama. Is this covered in the takayama hokuriku pass?

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