shirakawago winter

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-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:

JPRail.com PDF timetable (valid until mid March, 2020)

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.

1,078 thoughts on “Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass user guide. Perfect deal to travel Takayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Shirakawago from Nagoya or Osaka”

  1. Hi Takeshi,
    I am going to Nagoya from Namba, is it possible in one day trip using Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass
    Thank you in advance

  2. Hello! I would love to hear your thoughts on my itinerary.

    14 Dec – Arrive KIX 5:30pm. (I have purchased the 5 Day JR Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass – selected date is this date). I am hoping I can activate this pass right away to travel straight to Takayama (hotel Hidal Hotel Plaza booked this date as well.) Is it possible to catch the train still?
    15 Dec – trip to Shirakawa-go using Nohi Bus from Kanazawa
    16 Dec – Not sure which day trip to choose from!
    17 Dec – check out from hotel in Takayama and back to Osaka. Airbnb booked on this day. Explore Dontoburi!
    18 Dec – USJ (this pass will grant us access to Universal City right?)
    19 Dec – Osaka castle, Nara Park & Bamboo Forest, Inari Shrine
    20 Dec – return home (singapore)

    My main concern is whether I need to incur additional cost to get to Takayama from KIX and if there are still trains scheduled at night.

    1. Hi Nadya,

      Unfortynately you cannot get Takayama on the arrival day. 17:30 is too late to reach there by Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass. This pass allows you to get Takayama via Kanazawa and Toyama. You can get Kanazawa and Toyama. But this choice is the last train. If your flight delays, you cannot get even Kanazawa or Toyama. So you should cancel the first night of Takayama hotel and stay in Osaka on the arrival day. You can drop by Kanazawa and Shirakawago on the way to Takayama on 2nd day.

      I think this is the best option for you.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi, based on itinerary below, may I ask if Takayama-Hokiruku Pass will be paid off?

    Day 0 – arrival at nagoya airport – 9pm
    Day 1 – explore nagoya city
    Day 2 – nagoya to Shirakawaka-go
    Day 3 – nagoya to takayama / overnight at takayama
    Day 4 – takayama to shinhotaka
    – takayama back to nagoya
    Day 5 – explore nagoya city
    Day 6 – nagoya to osaka
    Day 7 – explore osaka
    Day 8 – osaka to kyoto
    – explore kyoto
    Day 9 – osaka back to nagoya for flight back to home country

    If not recommended, can you suggest other pass?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Hi Jen,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass for day 2 to 4. You can get the worth of it. But this pass does not cover Shin-Hotaka. You have to add the regular fare ticket.

      You may use Kintetsu Rail Pass or Platt Kodama for Nagoya to/from Osaka:
      https://jprail.com/destinations/kansai-area/how-to-transfer-between-nagoya-and-osaka-kyoto-by-train.html

      In Nagoya, you may add subway deal as you need:
      https://www.kotsu.city.nagoya.jp/en/pc/TICKET/TRP0001071.htm

      There is no deals for airport – Nagoya.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi,
    My itineary as below:-
    23rd dec – arrive KIX afternoon
    24th dec – travel to Takayama
    25th dec – day trip from Takayama to Shirakawa-go
    26th dec – day trip from Takayama to Gero Onsen
    27th dec – Takayama to Kanazawa to Osaka
    28th dec – day trip from Osaka to Kyoto
    29th dec – Osaka to Hiroshima and Iwakuni
    30th dec – day trip from Hiroshima to Miyajima
    31st dec – day trip from Hiroshima to Rabbit Island and Kojima
    1st Jan – Hiroshima to Kurashiki to Tottori
    2nd Jan – Tottori to Osaka
    3rd Jan – Osaka to Kobe
    4th Jan – 1 day in Osaka
    5th Jan – USJ Osaka
    6th Jan – Osaka to KIX
    I’m thinking of using Takayama-Hokuriku pass (should i activate this on 23rd or 24th) + Kansai-Hiroshima pass (29th dec – 2nd Dec). What other passes should i need for the rest of the days? Or should i get the sanyo-sanin pass for 7 days instead? Waiting for your advise. Thanks in advance!

    Lee

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        Thanks for your above advise.
        One more question though. I have a mono sugoca card from previous trip to Kitakyushu. Can i use this card for my one day in osaka? Or should i get the one day eco card instead? Also can i use this card for other subways in say Lobe or Kyoto.

        Thanks!
        Lee

  5. Hi there, I would like to seek for your advice on my trip!

    Day 1 – 1 day trip from Takayama to Shirakawago
    Day 2 – Takayama to Kanazawa
    Day 3 – Tour around Kanazawa
    Day 4 – Kanazawa to Kyoto
    Day 5 – Kyoto

    Is it worth buying the 5 Day JR Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass?
    And is the one day bus pass for Kanazawa included in this JR pass?

  6. Hi Takeshi-san,

    My husband and I are travelling to Osaka next year Jan. This is our first trip to Japan and our initial itinerary are as below.

    18 Jan : Arrive KIX at 9.40pm.
    19 Jan : Sightseeing Osaka City (use 1 day Osaka Amazing Pass)
    20 Jan : Universal Studio Japan
    21 Jan : Travel to Takayama, sightseeing Takayama city. (use Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass)
    22 Jan : Shirakawago
    23 Jan : Shinhotaka ropeway (not confirm). Travel back to Kyoto.
    24 Jan : Sightseeing Kyoto (Kansai Area Pass – 3 consecutive days)
    25 Jan : Kyoto/Nara
    26 Jan : Kyoto and flight back at 10pm.

    May I know if Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is worth for my trip since we are just using it for 3 days? If yes, what is the recommendation route from Osaka to Takayama on 21 Jan and Takayama to Kyoto on 24 Jan?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Vie san,

      You may use Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass for 19th January to 23rd January. You can take JR local train in Osaka. You can use the pass to get Universal city by JR train too. So even though you use Osaka Amazing Pass on 19th, you still can start using the pass on 19th anyway. It does not help to take the train in Kyoto. So you can use Kansai area pass 3-day for the last 3 days anyway.

      If you start using the pass on 19th and will not use the pass on 19th and 20th, you still can get the worth of Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass for Osaka to Takayama and Kyoto to Takayama only.

      This pass covers the following route:
      Osaka/Kyoto (the limited express Thunderbird) Kanazawa (Hokuriku Shinkansen) Toyama (the limited express Wide View Hida) Takayama
      or
      Osaka/Kyoto (the limited express Thunderbird) Kanazawa (Nohi bus via Shirakawago) Takayama

      At last, you can find the deal for the arrival day in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-from-kansai-airport-to-downtown-osaka-kyoto-and-kobe.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. hello, is this pass allow me to travel from Nagoya straight to Toyama with the Wide Area Hida Limited Express? Understand that the train from Takayama to Toyama is with certain time slot only, so is it mean if I would like to take the Limited Express Wide Area Hida from Nagoya to Toyama, without any transfer, I have to check the timetable where the train from Takayama to Toyama is cover? Thanks in advanced 🙂

  8. Day 1 – Arrival in Nagoya (Limo Bus to Sakae)
    Day 2 – Nagoya/Gero Onsen (THA Pass Day 1 – Hida 3 8:43 am, Return – Hida 16 or Hida 18)
    Day 3 – Nagoya/Gifu (THA Pass Day 2 – Hida 3 8:43 am, Return – Hida 18 )
    Day 4 – Nagoya – Takayama (THA Pass Day 3 Hida 1 7:45)
    Day 5 – Takayama – Shirakawago (THA Pass Day 4 7:50 am or 8:20 am, Return – 16:15 or 17:20/17:30)
    Day 6 – Takayama – Kyoto (THA Pass Day 5 Hida 16 + pay additonal for Hida 36)

    Question for this itinerary

    Day 2/3 – Does it make sense for us to use our reserved seat options for Day 2 and Day 3? or better to set this aside and use for our Day 6 (Takayama to Kyoto on Hida 36)

    Day 3 – How far in advance can we call to reserve our seats (return) – ie We are travelling in December, can I call in now?

    Day 6 – we need to use the 2 reserved seat option for Hida 16 and Hida 36 so we can take the same seats all the way from Takayama to Kyoto?
    When we arrive – is it possible to reserve this as soon as we get our THA pass MCO exchanged at Nagoya Station?
    Is it better to buy the Platt Kodama to go Takayama – Nagoya – Kyoto rather than the Hida 36 (Takayama direct to Kyoto)?

    Are the reserved seats only for train/Hida or we also use the reserved seat for the bus reservation (I’m reading so many things about this pass, i’m getting very confused already)

    I’m also trying to see where I can squeeze in a trip to Shinhotaka ropeway – is it better to take a day trip from Takayama, or from Nagoya? I understand this is not covered by the THA pass? Is there a pass that would cover this plus Shirakawago?

    Arigato gosaimasu Takeshi-san!

    1. Hi Alegria,

      Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass gives you up to 4 times of reserved seat using. This does not inclued the reserved seat on the bus to Shirakawago. So if you reserved a seat on day 2 and 3, you cannot reserve seat on day 4 and 6. You should use reserved seat for a long trip. Those are day 2 for the trip to Gero onsen, day 4 from Nagoya to Takayama and day 6 from Takayama to Gifu. Those are 4 times.

      You will pay for Gifu to Kyoto. So this is not included of the usage of Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass. If you are okay with the travel by Hida 16 and 36, you don’t need to use Platt Kodama. Hida 16 and 36 are same train. You can stay at the same seat until you get Kyoto.

      You can book all seats when you exchange the pass. You should do it.

      Shin-Hotaka is too far to get from Nagoya as day trip. You should go there from Takayama. You have to squeeze it on day 4 or 6.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hey Takeshi,

            Oh.. then we shall swap the itinerary so then I will explore Osaka first and then Takayama as below now. However I selected the pass redemption date to be 14 Dec- does it matter if I redeem it on lets say 16 Dec?

            14 Dec – Arrive KIX 5:30pm. (If i activate the pass to travel from airport to Osaka, it will be 5 days starting am I right? So I should purchase other tickets instead of using the pass first?) Check in Airbnb. Explore Dontoburi!
            15 Dec – Osaka castle, Nara Park & Bamboo Forest, Inari Shrine.
            16 Dec – day trip to Kanazawa (hoping to activate the pass on this day).
            17 Dec – USJ (I can use the pass to Universal City right?)
            18 Dec – check out Airbnb. Travel to Takayama.
            19 Dec – trip to Shirakawa-go using Nohi Bus reservation, explore kamikochi
            20 Dec – check out takayama hotel in AM and travel back to Osaka. (What is the fastest route that I can take?) Flight home to SG at 6:30PM (local time).

            1. Hi

              It is okay but do you really want to go back to Osaka after Kanazawa? When you go to Takayama, you have to go through Kanazawa. It takes 2.5 hours one way from Osaka to Kanazawa. If you make a day trip to Kanazawa, you will waste 5 hours. 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

              The common route to Takayama from Osaka is Osaka-Nagoya-Takayama route. But this route is not covered by Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass fully as I mentioned in this post. So you have to take Osaka-Kanazawa-Toyama-Takayama or Osaka-Kanazawa-Shirakawago-Takayama.

              So I recommend you to switch USJ and Kanazawa. You may go to USJ on 16th and go to Kanazawa on 17th. After Kanazawa, I recommend you to go to Takayama.

              In this plan, you add Kamikochi. But Kamikochi is basically closed in winter time:
              https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6040.html

              Some part of Kamikochi can be accessed. But you have to walk and you must have some winter gears. If you just want to visit and see the places, it is not recommended. If you want to add one more place, Shin-Hotaka is recommended:
              https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5943.html

              This route is not covered by Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass. You have to pay a regular fare from Takayama.

              I forgot to tell you about the trip to Nara and Kyoto in the previous reply. It is not impossible to visit Osaka castle, Nara, Inari and Bamboo in one day. But it is very tight. You can go if you are okay with a very short stay in each places. But you may not have enough time to see all places.

              Cheers,

              Takeshi / JPRail.com

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