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

shirakawago winterRail pass for visitors
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-day pass.

Purchasing placeAdultChild (6-11yrs)
Overseas travel agent
(Before arrival in Japan)
14,000 yen7,000 yen
At the designated station
(After arrival in Japan
15,000 yen7,500 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 on the train up to 4 times by this pass. This four times booking seat fee is covered. But you cannot book a seat on the limited express Haruka and the Hokuriku Shinkansen. This four times reservation does not include Nohi bus reservation. I will tell you about this restriction later.

Sales location

You can purchase this pass before or after you arrive in Japan. If you purchase an exchange order of this pass, the price is 1,000 yen cheaper than the price in Japan. 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.

The limited express Haruka and Kansai Airport Rapid train

The 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 services 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:

The limited express Thunderbird (Osaka, Kyoto – Kanazawa)

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

The 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 in the link below:

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.

The 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:

Find your hotels in 400 cities throughout Japan!!!

Hotels in Takayama
Hotels in Kanazawa
Hotels in Shirakawago

The 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 if you want to take the Shinkansen between Nagoya and Kyoto/Shin-Osaka.

Osaka departure of the 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 around 4,500 yen. The 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.

The limited express Shirasagi (Kanazawa – Nagoya)

If you move between Nagoya and Kanazawa, the 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 around 3,500 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:

  • The limited express Wide View Hida (Nagoya – Toyama), the Hokuriku Shinkansen (Toyama – Kanazawa)
  • The limited express Wide View Hida (Nagoya – Takayama), Nohi Bus (Takayama – Kanazawa)

These routes are covered but the trip time is much longer than the limited express Shirasagi. If you take the limited express Shirasagi, the trip time is about 3 hours to get Nagoya from Kanazawa without changing trains. But if you take one of these above routes, the travel time is about 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:

Compare cost between pass and single fare

First of all, please see the fare table for major segments below. These fares are approximate and may be varied by the seasonality:

One way fare

Kansai airport – Shin-Osaka by Limited Express NON reserved seat2,500 yen
Kansai airport – Kyoto by Limited Express NON reserved seat3,000 yen
Osaka – Kanazawa by Limited Express reserved seat7,800 yen
Kyoto – Kanazawa by Limited Express reserved seat7,000 yen
Nagoya – Takayama by Limited Express reserved seat6,000 yen
Toyama – Takayama by Limited Express reserved seat3,500 yen
Toyama – Kanazawa by Hokuriku Shinkansen NON reserved seat2,900 yen
Kanazawa – Shirakawago by Nohi bus2,000 yen
Takayama – Shirakawago by Nohi bus2,600 yen
Kanazawa – Takayama by Nohi bus3,600 yen
Shirakawago – Shin-Takaoka by Kaetsuno bus1,800 yen

You may find more information about the access to Takayama and Kanazawa at the links below:

You can find the timetable of the limited express Wide View Hida, Thunderbird, and Shirasagi in the link below:

Due to COVID-19, it may be operated on a schedule different from the normal timetable. Check the train schedule on Hyperdia.
Hyperdia perfect guide, train timetable and route search engine

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.

Comments

  1. Nadiah says:

    Dear Takeshi-san,

    Just to be clear, local train refers to the normal JR train right? And this covered with the pass?

    Arigatou 🙂

  2. Toey says:

    Hi Takeshi-San
    My plan is
    Day1 KIX-Shin Osaka (my hotel is here) – Kyoto – Shin Osaka
    Day2 Shin Osaka – Kyoto – Shin Osaka
    Day3 Shin Osaka – Kyoto – Kanazawa – Shirakawago – Takayama
    Day4 Takayama – Gero onsen – Nagoya
    Day5 Nagoya
    Day6 Nagoya
    Day7 Nagoya

    Can I use this pass for Day1-Day4? Is Gero onsen included?

    Thanks!

  3. Nadiah says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    We are trying to squeeze this in our already packed itinerary. If we stay overnight in Kanazawa ie 22/7, is it possible to visit takayama via toyama and shirakawago in one day ie 23/7. The plan is to travel back to Kyoto early morning the next day ie 24/7 to experience Gion Matsuri.

    Thks,
    Nadiah

    • Hi Nadiah san,

      Yes. you can. But you have to be Toyama by 8:00 am. Because the first express train (Wide View Hida) departs at 8:00. (arrive 9:31). The next one is 13:00. It’s too late. Local train runs but it’s too slow.

      Cheers,

      Takehsi / JP Rail

  4. Ant says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    I’m planning to buy Takayama-Hokuriku area pass for my trip during 1- 5 July as I will travel to Kanazawa and Toyama. My question is that my first day arriving at Kansai Airport is quite late, 22.50 and I want to start using the pass travelling from Kansai airport to Tennoji by JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service, hopefully I can get the train at 23.32. However, I need to exchange the ticket first and JR office at the airport closes at 23.00. Are there any other options to get the JR ticket if the office closes? or if I need to buy the single ticket for JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service, where can I buy it after 11 pm?

    Thank you very much
    Ant

  5. Goh says:

    Hi, Takeshi-San 🙂

    Your website is very informative, your valuable sharing is greatly treasured ~~
    This is indeed a very good news that Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass is now available again although with a bit of higher price.

    Following is my itinerary to Japan in Jan 2016:
    Day 1 : KIX -> Kyoto (Kansai Thru Pass 3-NonConsecutive-Day)
    Day 2 : Kyoto (Kyoto 1-Day City Bus)
    Day 3 : Kyoto -> Kanazawa -> Toyama -> Takayama (5-Day Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass)
    Day 4 : Takayama -> Shirakawago (5-Day Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass)
    Day 5 : Shirakawago –> Kanazawa (5-Day Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass)
    Day 6 : Kanazawa -> Osaka (5-Day Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass)
    Day 7 : Osaka -> Kobe -> Osaka (Single fare ticket perhaps)
    Day 8 : Osaka / Kyoto day trip (Kansai Thru Pass 3-NonConsecutive-Day)
    Day 9 : Osaka -> KIX (Kansai Thru Pass 3-NonConsecutive-Day)

    Much appreciate if you could assist on my below inquiries:
    (1) Do I utilize the passes in the most sensible way?

    (2) On Day 3, instead of taking Nohi Bus from Kanazawa to Takayama, I wish to go via Toyama by Hokuriku Shinkansen (Hakutaka or Tsurugi) and Limited Express Wide View Hida.
    Is taking this Limited Express Wide View Hida covered in the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass?

    (3) Will it be too late to reserve seats for Nohi Bus to Shirakawago & Kanazawa only when I reach Takayama (i.e. 1 day before I take the Nohi Bus)?

    Looking forward to your kind comments. Thank you in advance~~

  6. Raymond Cheang says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I have been following your website and it is very informative to travellers like me. Keep up the good work!!

    I have written to you earlier with regards to the and it is good to hear that JP West has come up with the Takayam-Hokuriku 5 day Tourist Pass from 1 Jul 2015.

    Below is my plan agenda for my trip to Japan in Dec 2015

    Dec 2: KIX -> Kyoto
    Dec 3: Kyoto
    Dec 4: Kyoto
    Dec 5: Kyoto
    Dec 6: Kyoto -> Nara -> Kyoto
    Dec 7: Kyoto -> Kanazawa
    Dec 8: Kanazawa -> Shiragawa -> Kanazawa -> Osaka
    Dec 9: Osaka
    Dec 10: Osaka
    Dec 11: Osaka -> KIX

    Below are my questions:

    1.Can I start using my Takayama-Hokuriku 5 Day Tourist pass from 7 Dec instead of when I arrive on Dec 2?
    2. For this tourist pass, I understand that it covers the Nohi Bus from Kanazawa to Shiragawa and back to Kanazawa. Does the Nohi call center speak English or can I get the hostel where I will be staying to help me make reservation? Do I need to tell Nohi bus that I am using the tourist pass so that I will not be charged?
    3. Since I am using the tourist pass from 7 Dec, it means I can use to catch my train back to KIX from Osaka using LTD Karuka Express? What do you mean by non reserved seats? Do you mean that we can board with our pass and seat at any available seat or do you mean non reserved coach on the LTd HAruka Express?

    Appreciate your help here to answer my questions above.

    Thanks!

  7. Grace says:

    Hi Takeshi-San
    If I use this pass after 1 July, can I take Limited Express (wide view) Hida train from Kyoto to Takayama ?

    Many thanks
    Grace

  8. Jefferene says:

    Hi, Takeshi-San, thanks for the reply.

    The online reservation that I was referring was this: https://secure.j-bus.co.jp/hon
    Some travellers did reservation for the Nohi bus through this site. Am jusy wondering, can I make reservation online then exchange the tickets using the Hokuriku pass at Takayama station.

    • Hi Jefferene san,

      If so, I think you can use this site. Nohi bus will take care of both passes by same system.
      Bu as I mentioned, I have never used this site and I’m not sure 100%.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  9. Jefferene says:

    This is a great news for me, I will certainly get this pass for our trip in November.

    Just like to confirm again, can we still reserve the tickets for Nohi bus online via J-bus if I am going to get this Hokuriku pass?

    Noted that shinkansen from Kyoto to Nagoya is not covered but can I still exchange the tickets for Nagoya to Takayama at Kyoto station?

  10. Godfrey says:

    Hi, does this route covered by All Japan JR pass because I m arriving at Narita airport.

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