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. juliana says:

    Hi Takeshi san,
    i’m planning to visit these places between 29Dec till 3jan 2016 and end up at Osaka
    Can you pls advise which is the best routing to cover and which rail/bus/train is most economical ?
    Day 1 -Osaka to Takayama
    Day 2 – Takayama
    Day 3 – Shirakawago -Kanazawa
    Day 4 – Kanazawa
    Day 5 kanazawa-Osaka

    • Hi Juliana san,

      Takayama Hokuriku area pass is the best and only deal to cover your trip. But when you go to Takayama on day 1, you have to take the route via Kanazawa. You cannot take the route via Gifu or Nagoya.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. David says:

    Hi,

    If my route is Osaka-Takayama-Shirakawa-Kanazawa-Tokyo Airport, can i use Hokuriku Area Pass?

    Or is the pass valid for Osaka-Takayama-Shirakawa-Kanazawa only, but then i still need to buy separately for Kanazawa-Tokyo?

    Thanks for advise

  3. Jeff says:

    Hi Takashi san,
    I am travelling to Osaka-Kyoto-Takayama-Shirakawago-KIX in this coming November. Is this pass suitable for my itinerary as below?
    Day 1 – KIX – Kyoto
    Day 2 – Kyoto
    Day 3 – Kyoto – Takayama
    Day 4 – Takayama – Shirakawago
    Day 5 – Takayama – Osaka
    Day 6 – Osaka
    Day 7 – Osaka – KIX
    Q1 : Can I use this pass for the first 5 days of my itinerary.
    Q2 : Is this pass cover the Limited Express Haruka from KIX to Kyoto?
    Q3 : Can I go Takayama directly from Kyoto by Limited Express Hida using this pass
    a) Limited Express Hida No.25 – Kyoto 0831 -> Takayama 12:16 on Day 3 &
    b) Limited Express Hida No.36 – Takayama 15:36 -> Osaka 19:51 on Day 5

    TQ

  4. Ryan Chua says:

    Hi
    Good day!

    I am interested on availing this plan but pls guide me how I can maximize my stay. I plan to use this on Nov 5-9 so far here is my plan:

    Nov. 5 – Shin Osaka – Kanazawa
    Nov 6 – Kanazawa – ? – Kanazawa
    Nov 7 – Kanazawa – ? – Kanazawa
    Nov. 8 – Kanazawa – ? – Kanazawa
    Nov 9- Kanazawa – Shin Osaka

    Pls help fill this up. I am going by myself so it wouldnt take me that long to one place to another. Pls send a quotation as well on other charges not included and how to reserve rapid train, shinkansen and buses.

    Thank you very much!

  5. Elizia says:

    Hi, Takeshi-san

    Kyoto – Gifu – Takayama
    I wish to go via Gifu by Ltd. Exp (wide view) Hida. Is this covered in the Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass?

    Thanks
    Elizia

  6. Wyen says:

    Hi there,
    I’m going to Osaka on next May 2016 for 11days and below is my I ternary
    Day 1 to day 6 – I will go to Kyoto directly and is buying icoca + haruka 1 way KIX is a good deal since I can’t buy 1way from Kyoto to KIX.
    Day 7 to day11 – is this route possible if I buy takayama hokuriku pass. From Kyoto to Kanazawa – shiragawa -takayama- KIX. Is takayama to KIX route is doable and how long does it takes? Between Kanazawa and takayama , which places is more Interesting so that I can stay for 2nights either one of them. Thanks

    • Hi Wyen,

      You can use Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass. It’s very hard to say which one is better, Takayama or Kanazawa. Both cities are very lovely and attractive. YOu can stay in 2 nights each and make Shirakawago between these cities.

      It takes 6 hours at least from Takayama to KIX. You have to take same route as Kyoto to Takayama via Kanazawa. It takes 2 hr 15 mins from Takayama to Kanazzwa, 2.5 hrs for Kanazawa to Shin-Osaka and another one hour for Shin-Osaka to KIX.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Wyen says:

        Hi,
        My iternary would be slightly as same as below u suggested earlier
        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

        My iternary would be like this
        Suggested itinerary
        Day 1 Kyoto-Kanazawa
        Day 2 Kanazawa – Shirakawago – Takayama
        Day 3 Takayama – Toyama
        Day 4 Toyama – Alpine route – Kanazawa
        Day 5 Toyama or Kanazawa – Osaka or KIX or Kyoto

        As for day 3 and 4, can I replace it by skipping Toyama using bus from takayama to Kanazawa ? Which is one would be time consuming and more feasible? Thanks

  7. chloe says:

    Hi Takashi san,

    May I know if this pass is suitable for my itinerary as below?
    Day 1- KIX – Osaka
    Day 2 – Universal Studio, Osaka
    Day 3 – Kyoto
    Day 4 – Kyoto
    Day 5 – Kyoto
    Day 6 – Shirakawago
    Day 7 – Takayama
    Day 8 – Takayama – KIX

    Regards,
    Chloe

  8. Jefferene says:

    Hi, Takashi San,
    Can I check with you if this pass cover the Osaka Loop subway line and the Kanazawa loop bus? Thank you very much for your information.

  9. Dlimsh says:

    Hi Mr Takeshi,

    Can I check whether I have to pay additional fee for reserve seat by the Nohi bus from Shirakawa-go to Gokayama and back using the Takayama Hokurika 5 day pass because these are all reserve seat ?

    Secondly, I understand that I can have 3 reserve seat ticket using this pass. Can I check if I can exchange for my 5-day pass and confirm the reserve seat at Nagoya Airport. If yes, where can I do the booking and exchange.

    My trip involves Nagoya-Takayama-Shirakawa-go – Kanazawa – Kyoto. Can you advise which is the situation route to make reservation for my 3 reserve seat.

    Thank you for your advice.

    • Hi Dlimsh,

      You don’t need to pay for Nohi bus reserved seat. It’s included and this in outside 4 times reserved seat. This “4 times” restriction applies to train reserved seat.
      You cannot exchange and book at Chubu (Nagoya) airport. You have to get Nagoya station first. This pass does not include any transportation to Nagoya station from airport. Once you get Nagoya station, you can exchange and book. You can find the location to exchange at the link below:
      http://touristpass.jp/en/takayama_hokuriku/exchange/locations.html

      You have 4 times to book for the train. So you can book for Nagoya-Takayama and Kanazawa-Kyoto. Actually you need only twice to use reserved seat.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • May says:

        Hello Takashi,

        Thanks for your great website and information!

        We will visit Osaka in November and stay in Kanazawa for day trip to Shirakawa-go and Takayama.

        Can we reserve seats on the Nohi bus before arrival in Japan or can we only do so once we have exchanged the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Pass? I am concerned that if it is very popular then all the reserved seats may be unavailable by the time we arrive in Japan. Is reservation only by phone? Thanks.

        • Hi May,

          You can reserve it before you arrive in Japan but you need to make a call.
          In peak season, in case that bus is full, extra bus usually come up.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          • May says:

            Hello Takashi,

            Thanks for your reply. We will be staying in Kanazawa. Do you consider there is sufficient time allowed to visit both Shirakawago and Takayama if we went by the following timetable?

            1. 8:10am – 9:25am Kanazawa – Shirakawago by Nohi bus
            2. 13:15pm-14:05pm Shirakawago – Takayama by Nohi bus
            3. 17:15pm-18:52pm Takayama to Toyoma by Shinkansen
            4. 19:11pm-19:33pm Toyama to Kanazawa by Ltd Exp Thunderbird

  10. Wing says:

    Hi Mr. Takeshi San,

    I am going to Nagoya, Takayama, Kanazawa and Shirkawago and departing at NGO airport. Do you think this pass is suitable for my itinerary?

    Wing

    Thank you!

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