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)
14,260 yen7,130 yen
At the designated station
(After arrival in Japan
15,280 yen7,640 yen
Online15,280 yen7,640 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. Lek says:

    Dear Takeshi,
    I and my friend will going to Osaka on 11-18 Dec and will be staying at Takayama & Kanazawa too. Could you please advise us for the following details :
    Day 1 : Kansai airport-Osaka-Kobe
    Day 2 : Osaka-Nara-Osaka
    Day 3 : Osaka-kyoto-Osaka
    ***Day 1-3 will get Kansai Thur Pass 3 days ticket
    Day 4 : Osaka-Kyoto-Osaka
    Day 5 : Osaka-Kanazawa-Takayama
    Day 6 : Takayama-Shirakawago-Kanazawa
    Day 7 : Kanazawa-Kyoto-Osaka
    Day 8 : Osaka-Kansai airport
    ***Day 4-8 will get Takayama-Hokuriku Pass

    Can we access Takayama-Hokuriku Pass for all JR line in Osaka City in Day 8 or not?

    Thank you,
    Lek

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

      Hi Lek,

      Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is valid for 5 days and it give you unlimited travel in the city of Osaka. So you can take Osaka loop line to access to many spots in Osaka. It’s no problem at all.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Sue says:

    Hi,

    I will only be travelling around Nagoya, Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawain three days. Would Shoryudo Highway Bus Ticket (3 days pass) be a better option?

    Thank you! 🙂

  3. Lin says:

    Hi Takeshi ,

    I am planning to go to kanzawa from takayama by using takayama hokuriku area pass. My question is which route is faster between
    – takayama via shirakawago to kanazawa (by bus) and
    – takayama via toyama to kanazawa (by train)

    if by train is faster, which railway (or name of train) that i can use by using this pass

    Thank you in advance
    Lin

  4. Linda says:

    Dear Takeshi San
    We will be using the Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass visiting Osaka Kyoto Kanazawa shirakawago and Gokayama when visiting Japan in January 2016.
    After that we will be travelling from Kanazawa to Nagano.
    From Kanazawa to Toyama,the Takayama Hokuriku area pass is valid but not from Toyama to Nagano.
    My question is, do I have to get off at Toyama station buy a ticket and get on another train?
    Can I just travel from Kanazawa to Toyama and pay the difference at the end of the journey?
    If I am using the JR EAST PASS does it cover Toyama to Nagano and what do I do in the above situation?
    Thank you for for time and kind assistance

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

      Hi Linda san,

      There are a few situation.
      You don’t need to get off at Toyama if you purchase a ticket for Toyama to Nagano. But Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass covers non reserved seat only. The fastest train that is “Kagayaki” does not have any non reserved seat. This is the fastest way to get Nagano from Kanazawa but you cannot take this between Kanazawa and Toyama by this pass. If you are okay with second fastest train that is “Hakutaka”, you can take all the way from Kanazawa to Nagano without any transfer. In this case, you need to pay for full fare between Toyama and Nagano. You can purchase the ticket before taking a train in Kanazawa station so you can stay in the train and continue to ride to Nagano.

      If you use JR East Pass, you need to pay only Toyama to Joetsu Myoko. You can find the timetable of Hokuriku Shinkansen at the link below:
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/english/wb/common/timetable/e_hokuriku_u/index.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. syfer30
    Joe Tjiam says:

    Hi Takeshi san, may I know where I can find the departure time table from Nagoya station to Takayama station, and vice versa?

    I’m intending to board after 10am train from Nagoya station and 6pm from Takayama Station, please advise, thank you very much.

    Regards
    Joe

  6. Lynn says:

    Hi,

    Would like to seek help on my itinerary:
    Day 1 – Tokyo
    Day 2 – Tokyo -> Kyoto
    Day 3 – Kyoto
    Day 4 – Kyoto
    Day 5 – Kyoto -> Kanazawa
    Day 6 – Kanazawa -> Gokayama -> Shiragawago -> Kanazawa
    Day 7 – Kanazawa -> Tokyo
    Day 8 – Tokyo -> Hakone -> Tokyo
    Day 9 – Tokyo

    Qn 1) Plan to get the 7-day JR pass for Day 2 to 8 of the trip. Is this advisable?

    Qn 2) Can a day trip be done from Kanazawa to Gokayama to Shiragawago and back to Kanazawa? How should I travel from Gokayama to Shirakawago? Need help to plan this day trip.

    In Tokyo and Kyoto, should I get any other pass or travel cards?

    Thank you.

  7. Jessie says:

    Hi Takeshi-san,

    I would like to seek your advice. I am going to Gifu prefecture from 14 – 18Dec. Here’s my plan:-
    14 Dec : Tokyo-Nagoya-Takayama by Nozomi Shinkanshen and then Nagoya to Takayama by Limited Express Wide View Hida Train
    15 Dec : 2nd night in Takayama – day trip to Hida Furukawa
    16 Dec : Takayama to Shinkawa-go by bus
    17 Dec : Shinakawa-go to Okuhida Onsen Village by bus
    18 Dec : Bus from Okuhida to Tokyo (Shinjuku)

    Question:-
    1. Would you suggest I buy Takayama – Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass? I calculated – it seems not worth for me to get it.
    2. Can I confirm the price for limited express ticket from Nagoya to Takayama? You mentioned about is Yen6030 but I checked hyperdia website it shows Yen1240. It is huge difference. I’m not sure which is correct.
    3. Can I buy the limited express Hida ticket from Nagoya to Takayama before I arrive into Japan? I’m worried it will be fully booked if I buy on the day itself.
    4. When I am in Tokyo Station, can I buy already a) Tokyo to Nagoya ticket and b) Nagoya to Takayama ticket? Or I can only buy Tokyo to Nagoya ticket and then when I reach Nagoya, I buy Nagoya to Takayama?
    5. Do you think the above itinerary makes sense?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Jessie

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

      Hi Jessie san,

      1. No. It doesn’t work.
      2. No. I don’t know how you got this fare. But as far as I checked it, base fare + limited express charge (reserved seat) is 6030 yen.
      3/4. No. But you can purchase is at any JR stations in downtown Tokyo.
      5. It makes sense. But if you want to save your cost, you can take highway bus from Tokyo (Shinjuku) to Takayama. You can book on the phone or online.
      http://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/tokyo.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Su Oh says:

    Konnichiwa Takeshi-San,

    Thank again for this useful website!

    We’ll be travelling in February 2016 on the following itinerary:
    1) Nagoya airport – Takayama
    2) Takayama – Shirakawago
    3) Shirakawago – Nagoya city.

    It seems like it’s cheaper for us to buy individual tickets than the pass. Do you know if there is any online site we can buy indivual rail tickets? Or can we only buy in person when we arrive at Nahoya from the airport train office?

    Also it seems Gifu bus is the only direct way to travel from Shirakawago to Nagoya city. Would you happen to know any site to buy the tickets?

    We’re actually nervous about the availability of seats on trains as we are a rather big group, 8 people travelling together. Any chance you know if 8-12 February 2016 is peak travel? We’ll only be arriving at Shirakawago after the light-up is over. but we’re still nervous that we may not get on trains after booking our accommodations! So we’re hoping to reserve all the transport in advance before confirming accomodations.

    Thanks & cheers
    Su

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

      Hi Su,

      There is no way to book a train ticket outside Japan. But mid February is low season. I’m optimistic you can book it. If you can’t, Limited Express Wide View Hida has non reserved seat. It’s first come first serve. If you show up at the platform 30 minutes before departure time, you will make it.

      Gifu bus has reservation site in Japanese only. I put the link just in case.
      https://www.highwaybus.com/rs-web01-prd-rel/gp/reservation/rsvPlanList?lineId=665

      Actually I totally have no idea about this bus because I have never taken it.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. SG says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Your site is amazing! Thanks for providing such great info. Some questions to seek your help in: I will be in Tokyo until 17th Nov, and need to be in Kobe on 25th Nov. Would like to visit Kanazawa / Shirakawago / Takayma area. Which itinerary works better in terms of cost, things to see, travel timing? As this is the autumn fall period, I am having trouble booking in Kyoto, as such toying with other options. Here’s proposed itinerary:
    Option 1:
    i) Tokyo ( dep 17th Nov) – 2N@Kyoto ( dep 19) –2N@ Kanazawa ( dep 21) – 1 N@Shirakawago ( dep 22) – 2N@Takayama (dep 24th) – Kobe( need to be in Kobe on 25th Nov )
    or

    Option 2 –
    ii) Tokyo( dep 17th Nov) – 2N@Kanazawa( ( dep 19) – (day trip) Shirakawago – 3NTakayama(dep 21) – 2N@Kyoto (dep 23)- 3N@Kobe (dep 26th)
    or

    Option 3 –
    iii) Tokyo – Kyoto – Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa – Kobe.

    Some further questions –
    i) what transport option are there from Kanazawa to Kobe?
    ii) 2nights stay in Kanazawa or 2 nights in takayama?
    iii) Shirakawago ok for day trip only?

    Thanks for your help!
    Stel

  10. yumapvc
    Hong says:

    Hi Takashi San,

    This is my first time travel to Japan and here’s my planned itinerary:

    13 Nov: Kyoto
    14 Nov: Kyoto
    15 Nov: Kyoto
    16 Nov: Kyoto/Osaka
    17 Nov: Universal Studio Japan
    18 Nov: Day tour to Shirakawago/Takayama*
    19 Nov: Nara
    20 Nov: Return

    Appreciate if you could advise on the train/bus passes to purchase during the trip as i got confused by the travel system in Japan. And would like to seek your advice on the day trip of Shirakawago/Takayama. Does it possible to make a day tour from Osaka?

    Million thanks!
    – Xiau Hong

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

      Hi Xiau Hong san,

      Takayama is too far to make a day trip from Osaka. But if you access to Shirakawago from Kanazawa, you can make it. And also you can use this pass, Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass. Please find more info at the link below:
      https://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/1-day/sample-itinerary-of-day-trip-to-kanazawa-and-shirakawago-from-osaka-or-kyoto.html

      Kanazawa is very attractive city and worth visiting there.

      If you are okay with it, you can use the following deals:

      ICOCA and Haruka one way for arrival day
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/icoca-and-haruka-ticket-very-flexible-and-good-deal-for-tourist-who-stay-in-kansai.html

      Kyoto city deals when you are in Kyoto
      http://www.insidekyoto.com/special-kyoto-bus-train-subway-passes

      Takayama Hokuriku area pass from 16 Nov to the end

      You may add subway pass or single fare as you need in Osaka.
      http://www.kotsu.city.osaka.lg.jp/foreign/english/Card.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • Hi Takeshi san:

        We are going to Japan again this Dec 25-Jan 2 and will be mostly in Tokyo. On Dec. 30-Jan 1, we plan to go to Kanazawa, TAkayama, Shinhodaka and Shirawago. Our itinerary is as follows:

        OPTION 1:
        Dec. 30 Depart Tokyo for Kanazawa (via Hokuriko Shinkansen). Tour Kanazawa til around 1 pm. Take Bus to Takayama, then transfer bus to Shinhodaka Okuhida Onsen-go . stay the night in a ryokan

        Dec 31-tour Takayama til early afternoon, go to Shirakawago, then to small village outside Kanazawa (no more rooms in kanazawa), stay the night

        Jan 1- leave kanazawa for tokyo

        OPTION 2:
        DEC 30- Depart Tokyo for Takayama, then bus to Shinhodaka Okuhida onsen go, see Ropeway and hopefully, Snow corridor

        Dec 31- Tour TAkayama, then Shirakawago in the afternoon, then Kanazawa (small village outside Kanazawa)

        Jan 1-tour Kanazawa whole day and depart for Tokyo

        Given the above options, what would the best JR pass be for us (6 people) to cover all the areas? Is it better to get a JR PASS or buy individual tickets. Are the buses on our route included in the JR PASS?

        Option 1 has a shorter travel time from Tokyo to kanazawa (2.5 hrs). It offers a break in Kanazawa before we travel by bus again to Okuhida onsen.

        Option 2 has a longer travel time (7HRS) as we were thinking of taking the trains from Tokyo-Nagano-Takayama. then bus to Okuhida Onsen. Is there a shorter option to get to Shinhodaka from Tokyo if we do option 2?

        Thanks a lot for your help.

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

          Hi Maria,

          Actually I have better route. It’s similar to option 2 but you will access to Shin-Hotaka from Matsumoto. First of all, please see the link below:
          https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-to-takayama-by-trains-and-buses.html

          You can access to Takayama by Nohi bus from Matsumoto. Shin-Hotaka is located at the mid point between Matsumoto and Takayama. Check the bus timetable for this segment at the link below:
          http://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/matsumoto.html

          This is much more accessible to Shin-Hotaka than your option 2. After visiting Shin-Hotaka, follow your itinerary of option 2. I think this is the best and the easiest route.

          JR pass does not cover any bus services in your itinerary. Single ticket is slightly cheaper than JR Pass 7 days. But if you have any other trips from Tokyo before/after this trip, such as visiting Hakone, Nikko or Mt. Fuji, JR Pass will be cheaper.

          And also, if you depart from Narita, you may use JR Pass to take Narita Express. If you use JR Pass for taking Narita Express, JR Pass will be cheaper than total single fares.

          Anyway JR Pass is more convenient and much easier to handle. This is more recommended by single fares.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

      • yumapvc
        Lu Xiau Hong says:

        Hi Takeshi San,

        Really appreciate your information. The information provided was very useful and help a lots especially the half day trip to Shirakawago.

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