Located in Ishikawa Prefecture in Central Japan, Kanazawa Station sits at the border of eastern and western Japan. A lovely city in its own right, Kanazawa has become a favourite on the tourist route from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka. A city known for its beautiful gardens, historic districts and streetscapes and fantastic seafood, Kanazawa has a lot to offer and its station is a convenient hub connecting visitors to many regions of Japan.
The station is relatively new and pleasant to spend time in. While large, it is nowhere near the size of stations in Tokyo and Osaka. It is easy to navigate yourself from one point to the next, and with lots of good shops and restaurants inside the station, it’s an excellent place to spend a few hours if transferring from one train line to another.
The following page provides information to assist with moving to and from Kanazawa Station as you travel to Nagano and through Central Japan. It is not intended to provide complete information about the station or its many facilities, but instead, provide some helpful information for travellers enroute to other destinations.
Train lines running to and from Kanazawa Station
Several train lines operate out of Kanazawa Station including:
Hokuriku Main Line
IR Ishikawa Railway Line
Of those, the Hokuriku Shinkansen – heading to Nagano and Tokyo – and Hokuriku Main Line – heading to Kyoto and Osaka – will be of most interest to international visitors.
Hokuriku / Kanazawa to Tokyo via Nagano Station
Running from Kanazawa Station to Tokyo Station, the Hokuriku Shinkansen runs to the south-southeast toward the capital and stops at stations including:
Kanazawa / Shin-Takaoka / Toyama / Kurobe-Unazukionsen / Itoigawa / Joetsu-Myoko / Iiyama / Nagano / Ueda / Sakudaira / Karuizawa / Annaka-Haruna / Takasaki / Honjo-Waseda / Kumagaya / Omiya / Ueno / Tokyo
Our ‘Hokuriku Timetable‘ page provides a list of services from Kanazawa to Tokyo including Nagano. Two services operate from Kanazawa to Tokyo via Nagano – the Kagayaki and the Hakutaka. The Kagayaki is reservation-only and stops at Toyama, Nagano, Omiya and Ueno before terminating at Tokyo. The journey from Kanazawa to Tokyo takes 150 minutes and Kanazawa to Nagano takes approximately 65 minutes.
The Hakutaka includes both reserved and non-reserved carriages and stops at a greater number of stations. Kanazawa to Tokyo takes between 180 to 200 minutes (depending on the stations included in the specific service) while a journey from Kanazawa to Nagano takes 85 to 90 minutes to travel from Kanazawa to Nagano.
Expect to pay approximately JPY14,000-15,000 for a one-way ticket from Kanazawa to Tokyo and around JPY9,000 for a one-way ticket from Kanazawa to Nagano.
A third service – Tsurugi – is only available between Kanazawa and Toyama, taking just under 25 minutes; while a fourth service – Asama – is only available from Tokyo to Nagano and therefore cannot be used from Kanazawa.
Visitors wanting to head from Kanazawa to the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, including its amazing Snow Walls in spring, can do so via Toyama Station. The easiest option is to take the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Toyama and then transfer to the Dentetsu-Toyama Line. Depending on which service you use, the total travel time is between 125 to 125-minutes and costs around JPY4600.
Lying to the south, the historic town of Takayama can be reached by bus from Kanazawa Station (see below) or train. Visitors wanting to use the train should proceed to Toyama Station using the Hokuriku Shinkansen and then switch to the Limited Express Hida service from Toyama to Takayama.
This is the fastest option by train, taking around 115 minutes and JPY6770 one-way.
The Hokuriku Shinkansen is covered by the Japan Rail (JR Pass), JR East Pass and JR Hokuriku Pass – for further details, please see below – however JR Passes do not however cover transport on the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route.
Other train services to and from Kanazawa Station
For visitors transiting the station on their way to or from Fukui, Kyoto and Osaka, the Limited Express Thunderbird runs on the Hokuriku Main Line and other connecting lines. Services depart from Platforms No. 1 and 2 at Kanazawa Station and stop at the following:
*Please note, stations marked in bold / red on the map are stops on all Thunderbird Services. Most Thunderbird services use Kanazawa as their northern terminus however there is also one service each day which begins or ends a little further north at Wakura Onsen.
Depending on which Thunderbird service you use, the total travel time from Kanazawa to Osaka is between 160 to 170-minutes and costs just under JPY8000. Refer to our ‘Limited Express Thunderbird Timetable’ page for the daily schedule.
Japan Rail (JR) Passes covering Kanazawa to Nagano
There is no escaping the fact that travel using the shinkansen and other rapid services is expensive. Given the speed and distances covered by these trains, travelers should think of them much like taking a flight, with tickets accordingly priced. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing one of several passes which allow for unlimited use of the Hokuriku along with other services:
Japan Rail (JR) Pass
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the JR Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances. Travelers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars.
The JR Pass allows for use of any service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost). This pass also covers the Thunderbird.
Japan Rail (JR) East Pass/ Nagano & Niigata
This pass covers the Hokuriku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines serving Nagano and Niigata, along with other regional services. There is only one option of pass, covering 5 days of use within a 14-day period from its date of activation.
Notably cheaper than the JR Pass, this is a great option for visitors staying within Nagano and Niigata. Much like the JR Pass, it allows for use of any service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
Please note, this pass does not cover services to the west of Kanazawa such as those connecting to Kyoto and Osaka. As such, it does not cover the Thunderbird.
Hokuriku Arch Pass
Valid for 7 consecutive days from date of activation, the Hokuriku Arch Pass covers train services from Tokyo – including trains from both Narita and Haneda Airports – to Nagano and Kanazawa and then onto Kyoto, Osaka and Kansai Airport.
For many international visitors, this pass covers the majority of their intended destinations as the they follow the most popular tourist route from Tokyo to Kanazawa and onto Kyoto and Osaka. Notably cheaper than the full JR Pass, the Hokuriku Arch Pass offers fantastic convenience and savings. This pass covers the Thunderbird.
This pass also covers the Thunderbird.
Purchasing a JR Pass
Passes can be purchased via the official website or via a JR-affiliated overseas sales office. Once you have completed payment, you will receive an exchange order. This is a proof of payment and looks almost like a flight ticket with your personal details, type of pass, and validity (three months from the date of issue).
It is important to note that the exchange order is not your actual pass and will need to be exchanged for your pass once in Japan. Whatever you do, do not lose the exchange order and prioritise exchanging it for your pass when you arrive.
Activating a JR Pass
Prior to using your pass, you must actually get your hands on it by exchanging the order/proof of purchase you received online. This can be done a numerous JR Pass Exchange Offices found at any major train station or airport including Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Chubu Centrair International Airport and Kansai International Airport.
If you have time to do so before leaving the airport, you can use the pass immediately. Tokyo Station is another popular place to exchange/obtain your pass at either of these offices:
JR East Travel Service Center (Marunouchi North Exit): 07:30 to 20:00
JR Central Ticket Office (Yaesu North Exit): 07:30 to 20:00
If you need to exchange your pass while at Kanazawa Station, you can do so at either of these offices:
Central Ticket Office: 04:40 to 23:30
Nippon Travel Agency TiS: 11:00 to 19:00 (Weekdays) / 10:30 to 18:30 (Weekends)
To exchange/activate your pass you will need your exchange order and passport.
Make sure you allow adequate time to exchange and activate your pass if you are intending to use it on the same day or do so a day or two before you plan to start using it (you can always nominate a later activation date).
Once you have your activated pass you are free to ride however you can’t insert your pass into the ticket gates. Simply walk through the side booth (permanently attended by station staff) and show your pass. You will be waved through and you can make your way to the platform.
Bus services running to and from Kanazawa Station
When visiting Kanazawa, it is worth taking the time to head south to the World Heritage-listed villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, and from there, onto the historic old town of Takayama. Daily bus services to those destinations operate to and from Kanazawa Station.
To Shirakawa-go & Gokayama / Takayama
The Hokuetsu Bus company operates regular services between Kanazawa Station and Ogimachi (with some additional services to Suganuma from March until November). The bus departs from the East Exit of Kanazawa and takes between 75 to 85 minutes to reach Ogimachi – depending on the service you use – and costs around JPY1850.
Please see the following page for information including timetables and fares to and from Kanazawa. The full journey from Kanazawa to Takayama by bus takes around 2 hours and costs JPY3600 one-way while a return ticket will cost around JPY6400.
Kanazawa Station Tourist Information Center
The station’s Tourist Information Center is easy to find, located on the northern side of the station, just inside the entrance. Directly across from the ticket gates leading to the train platforms, you literally can’t miss it. Open daily from 08:00 until 20:00, staff can assist with general enquiries, transport enquiries, timetables and maps, accommodation bookings and luggage delivery.
Book a Private Tour or Charter from/to Kanazawa
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Got a question about visiting Nagano and Central Japan? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get planning together!