Kanazawa, a city on the Japan Sea coast, draws visitors looking for a taste of traditional Japan — but without the extreme crowds of Kyoto. Which makes sense: this once feudal stronghold has a renowned garden, some truly great museums, and authentic old-Japan streetscapes. Interest piqued? Here’s how to get from Tokyo to Kanazawa affordably and easily.
The completion of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo and Kanazawa, in 2014 has made visiting easier than ever. It has also made Kanazawa a more popular destination, but it’s still, fortunately, not (yet?) overwhelmed with tourists.
|Bullet Train||★ ★ ★ ★ ★||¥14,580, cheaper with discount passes||2.5–3 hours||3.8kg CO₂||Japan Rail Pass|
|Flights||★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆||From ¥9,123 plus transfers||1 hour plus transfers||54.4kg CO₂||Search Flights|
|Buses||★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆||From ¥3,700||8.5 hours||12.3kg CO₂||Search buses|
|Car||★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆||Tolls from ¥8,870 plus fuel||6 hours||17.6kg CO₂|
Pro tip: Check out our ultra budget (just over ¥10,000, including transportation and accommodation!) two-day Kanazawa mini-break itinerary.
Taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kanazawa
Thanks to the Hokuriku Shinkansen, the journey between Tokyo and Kanazawa takes as little as two and a half hours — that’s on the speedy Kagayaki train. The Hakutaka, which makes more stops, takes more like three hours. Trains run approximately twice an hour, with Hakutaka trains being more frequent.
A regular one-way ticket costs ¥14,580, give or take a few hundred yen (depending on the season). If you’ve got a Japan Rail Pass, you can use it on Hokuriku Shinkansen. Before October 1, the cost of the round-trip journey is just shy of the cost of the pass, so just one more short rail journey — say up to the Noto Peninsula — and you’ll have more than made your money back.
Want a primer on taking the Shinkansen? We have a guide on that for you.
The Hokuriku Arch Pass
Foreign visitors to Japan who plan to visit Kanazawa may want to consider purchasing the Hokuriku Arch Pass. This 7 day regional pass covers travel between Tokyo and the Kansai region via Kanazawa, which makes for a great itinerary. This pass costs ¥24,500 if you buy it outside of Japan, making it the most affordable option for roundtrip Shinkansen travel between Tokyo and Kanazawa.
If you (like me) are not blessed with a temporary visitor visa, the Jalan Pack service through Jalan has some good combined Shinkansen and hotel deals. Of course, it’s only available in Japanese…
Flying from Tokyo to Kanazawa
The closest airport to Kanazawa is actually in the neighboring city of Komatsu, which is not really close to Kanazawa at all. The flight time is only one hour to Komatsu from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, but so is the trip from Komatsu Airport into the city. As befitting a regional airport in an area with good Shinkansen links to Tokyo, there are only 10 flights in and out per day, with the JAL/ANA duopoly as your only option.
To get from the airport to Kanazawa, you can catch a Komatsu Airport Limousine Bus for ¥1,300 (¥650 for children). One advantage of taking the bus into town from the airport is that it will drop you in Kōrinbo, right in the center of Kanazawa. You can also catch it to/from Kanazawa Station, if you’ve been unlucky enough to book a hotel in the dullest part of town.
Despite the JAL/ANA dominance, the one way fares are actually quite reasonable, and are cheaper than the Shinkansen even when factoring in the airport bus. That said, the whole getting to and from the airport thing (plus pre-flight formalities) means that the train is actually the quicker option.
|Tokyo Haneda => Komatsu||Japan Airlines||US$55.00||Nov 16, 2023||Booking options|
|Tokyo Narita => Komatsu||Spring Airlines Japan||US$195.00||Dec 04, 2023||Booking options|
Money-saving tip: Book well in advance and take the least popular early morning or late-night flights.
Highway buses from Tokyo to Kanazawa
Buses for Kanazawa take about eight and a half hours and depart from Shinjuku Station, Tokyo Station, and Tokyo Disneyland. Prices start from around ¥3,700 for the least comfortable overnight buses and go up around to ¥12,000 for more comfortable options.
Money-saving tip: Take an overnight bus to save on one night of accommodation
Although we wouldn’t recommend it (because of the cost of fuel and tolls) if you’re in the mood for driving, the journey will take you around six hours. Even using the automatic toll collection system (ETC), you can expect to pay upwards of ¥8,870 in tolls to get from Tokyo (starting at Shinjuku) to Kanazawa. Then, you need to factor in the cost of fuel, and possibly the cost of car rental if you don’t have your own.
If you really want to drive, you’re best off getting some friends together for the trip and splitting the cost to make it more managable.
In terms of the best way to get from Tokyo to Kanazawa, it really depends on your priorities. The easiest, most comfortable and most convenient option is to take the Shinkansen, which can be quite affordable if you are able to buy a JR or Hokuriku Arch pass. If you’re not able to, well, other options might seem more appealing. The cheapest option is a highway bus, especially if you’re willing to forego comfort. Flying is by far the fastest option on paper, but once you factor in travel to the airport and the check in processes etc once you’re there, it might not be the case for you. Likewise, cramming into a car with your best buddies for a weekend trip might seem fun at first, but your feelings might change after a few hours.
While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. This post was first published in 2018 and is updated regularly. Last updated in September 2023 by Shyam.