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

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:

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. anna says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    Our arrival in KIX is at 9pm on 18 Oct. If i buy the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass, this will expire on what day and time?
    I am asking as we still have 1 day in Nagoya if this is only valid until 23 Oct.
    If that is the case, what pass should i get that will include our train ride to Chubu Centrair International airport for our flight on 24 Oct?

    Thanks,
    Anna

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Anna san,

      The pass is valid for midnight to midnight. So if you start using it at even 21:00 on 18 Oct, it will be expired at 23:59 on 22 Oct.

      Only single ticket is your choice to get Chubu airport. This pass does not cover either train or bus to Chubu airport from Nagoya anyway.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Lim says:

    Hi Takeshi san,

    I have a day of my plan itinerary following: Kiso Valley -> Nakatsugawa -> Takayama -> Shirakawa go

    Which part of this journey, if any, can the Takayama-Hokuriku area be used?

    Also, as a side question, I intend to go for the Alpine route from Toyama -> Alpine -> Nagano -> Tokyo. As I am arriving from Nagoya, is there any way i can purchase the Tateyama Kurobe Option ticket outside Tokyo/Nagano?

    Thank you.

    Best regards,
    Lim

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Lim san,

      Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass covers only Nagoya – Takayama – Shirakawago only. After visiting Kiso valley, you need to go to Nagoya anway. Because there is no direct transfer from Kiso valley to Takayama. So you have to pay extra to get Nagoya from Nakatsugawa.

      Tateyama Kurobe Option ticket is JR East deal so you cannot purchase it at any locations other than Nagano and Tokyo. You can find the detailed locations at the link below:
      http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/tateyama_kurobe/index.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Anna says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    I will be visiting Osaka and my trip would be:
    20-21 Oct Osaka
    22-23 Oct Kyoto
    23 Oct Travel from Kyoto to Nagoya then sidetrip to Shirakawago
    24 Oct Fly back home from Nagoya

    Do you think its better to purchase this Takayama – Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass instead of the Haruka Icoca card?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Anna,

      If you use this pass, you cannot go to Nagoya directly from Kyoto. You have to go through Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama and then Nagoya. But it’s very hard to do this route from Kyoto to Nagoya in one day. It’s not impossible but it’s not feasible. But there is no other deals that cover your original route. If you do your original route, you have to use single fare for most part of your trip.

      If you can stay in Takayama instead of Nagoya, it’s much easier. But if you leave from Nagoya very early, it’s risky. It takes at least 3 hours to get airport from Takayama.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Anna says:

        Hi Takeshi San,

        If we leave Kyoto very early in the morning of 23 Oct then go through Kanazawa and then sight see Shirakawago for half day then to Nagoya, is this feasible?
        Another thing, can i use Takayama – Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass when I land in KIX on 19 Oct to Namba?

  4. Dear Takeshi san,

    I am travelling to Osaka on 13/11/15, staying a night in Osaka.
    14/11/15 to Takayama one night.
    15-17/11/15 to Tokyo. Might go to Mt. Fuji – day trip.
    18-21/11/15 back to Osaka.
    Which JR pass shall i purchase?
    Thank you.

    Elaine

  5. Dear Takeshi san,

    Does the Hokuriku Area Pass cover these places.
    Tokyo (narita) to Nagoya to Takayama to Shirakawago to Kanazawa to toyama -Alpine Route -Tokyo Hotel ( on the 5th day)? We ( 65ys, 35 yrs, and 5 yrs – 3 generations) will arrived in Narita on 12-sep-2015 at 8.00 am. Can you suggest a doable iternary for us. If the Iternary is too hectic for us we can skip Kanazawa. Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Teo san,

      This pass covers from Nagoya to Toyama only. After leaving Toyama, all fares are additional on top of this pass and this pass does not cover any more. There is no deal for these trips. Only single fare is your choice if you use this pass. Probably JR pass 7 days is better choice even though this pass does not cover bus to Shirakawago. It’s not a good idea to use Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass for your trip because you will start from Tokyo.

      You can complete this trip in 5 days easily.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. sj2159
    su says:

    Dear Takeshi

    Will this pass allow traveling from Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa as I’m going to base in Shin-Osaka.

    Thanks.
    Su

  7. Hi Takeshi san,

    Am visiting Japan for 10 days end of August. Will want to go from Tokyo to Shirakawago, Takayama and Kanazawa. Will need to return to tokyo for my flight. Would just the JR pass be enough to cover all these areas ? Or do I need the Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass? I would think in between I may need to take buses and if I do not have the Takayama Hokuriku Area pass , I will have to pay separately. But this will not be too expensive am I right?

    Would appreciate your advice ! Thanks!

    christellle

  8. catherine2409
    Catherine Chan says:

    Dear Takeshi
    I am organising my first free and easy trip to Japan from 18 April 2016. My air ticket allows me to arrive in Narita then fly out from Haneda. I have 9.5 days starting from my arrival time at 8am and leaving at noon time. I will like to see cherry blossoms in Tohoku region since all the other flower spots would have ended their season by early April. I like very scenic places, some temples, 1-2 hot springs and I don’t mind taking local train rides. I am currently reading up…Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Takayama, Hakone, Yamanashi, Aomori, Hirosaki but I am really not sure how to go about with JP pass, JR East pass, suica pass etc…
    will you be able to guide me along please. Many thanks!

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi Catherine,

      Before choosing the pass, you have to make sure where you want to go. JR East Pass covers Tohoku region but not west side, like Osaka, Kyoto, Takayama. As long as you want to visit both Tohoku and west side, like Takayama, Kyoto and Osaka, only JR pass is your choice.

      As I see your draft plan, you will make a trip wide area of Japan. I think JR Pass is your choice. But I’m not sure 7 days or 14 days. If you stay in Tokyo after arrival or before departure for a few days, 7 days pass is okay. You don’t need JR Pass to explore in Tokyo. Subway pass or other local deal is okay.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. jay yap says:

    thanks Takeshi San,

    planning to spend a few days in central japan

    My itinerary for Sept/Oct 2015 as follows:

    D1- D3 NGO to Takayama (3 nights)
    D4 – D5 Gifu
    D6 – Gifu /to NGO

    will this be best with JR per trip passZ ?

    Looking forward to your reply

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi Jay san,

      If you intend to visit Shirakawago, this pass is a good choice. Otherwise single fare is cheaper. If you look for cheaper option, you can take highway bus.
      http://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/nagoya.html

      Even if you visit Takayama and Shirakawago, highway bus and bus to Shirakawago’s fare is cheaper than this pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. Darren says:

    Dear Takeshi-san,

    I am using Takayama-hokuriku pass to travel on Jan 2016. Which is the better way to travel from Takayama back to Kanazawa? Pass through Shirakawago or Toyama?

    Many thanks & regards.

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