Since March 2015 the bullet train (Shinkansen) service from Tokyo to Nagano has been extended to Kanazawa, dramatically cutting travel times between Tokyo, Toyama and Kanazawa.

The extended Shinkansen line makes the beautiful Hokuriku region more accessible, and opens up new possibilities of exploring the country, away from the usual “Tokaido” route between Tokyo and Kyoto. The Hokuriku region along the Sea of Japan coast is rich in tradition and offers pleasant countryside and spectacular natural scenery. Among the destinations to benefit from easier access from Tokyo is Shirakawago.

Central Japan Railway’s new Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass is a reasonably-priced and convenient way to visit the area. It covers:

  • train travel on JR’s Takayama line from Nagoya up through the picturesque centre of the country via Gero and Takayama
  • bus services from Takayama and Kanazawa to picturesque Shirakawago, a World Heritage site home to the famous “Gassho-Zukuri” traditional farmhouses
  • the newest Hokuriku Shinkansen between Toyama and Kanazawa
  • JR trains from Kanazawa to Kyoto, Osaka and Kansai airport.

The extended Hokuriku Shinkansen has created an alternative to the Tokaido Shinkansen for fast travel between Eastern Japan (Tokyo) and Western Japan (Kyoto/Osaka). It is particularly attractive for those interested in seeing Kanazawa or in balancing their city sightseeing with a visit to Japan’s countryside and nature that can be found abundantly in the Hokuriku Region.

And priced at only Yen 13,500 per adult for 5 days, the Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass offers a great way to explore this area of Japan, on a route from Nagoya which ends conveniently at Kyoto and Osaka.