The Hokuriku Shinkansen line: Connecting Tokyo to Kanazawa & Tsuruga

Kagayaki Train in the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line

The Hokuriku Shinkansen Line represents an extension of the Nagano Shinkansen Line, which was completed during the mid-1990s to facilitate the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano.

Thanks to the Hokuriku Shinkansen, which began operating in 2015, it is possible to cover the journey from Tokyo to Kanazawa.

Now you can visit the attractions in Kanazawa in record time with the Hokuriku Shinkansen. These include the famous Kenrokuen Garden, Ninjadera Temple, Oyama Shrine, Omicho Market, or the Nagamachi samurai district.

Additionally, from March 16, 2024, the Hokuriku Shinkansen line extends from Kanazawa to Tsuruga. This means you can now visit this port city from Tokyo in just over 3 hours.

Below, you can find all the information you need to plan a journey on the Hokuriku Shinkansen with your JR Pass or one of the regional passes.

The Hokuriku Shinkansen with the JR Pass

Passage on the Hokuriku Shinkansen is covered by the Japan Rail Pass, as well as several regional rail passes. You can activate your JR Pass in many of the main train stations.

These include but are not limited to the Travel Service Centers in Nagano and Tokyo Station, and the Nippon Travel Agency branch at Kanazawa Station.

If you wish to make a seat reservation, visit a ticketing office within the train station. Give the staff member your desired destination and present your JR Pass.

Then, whether using a reservation or accessing non-reserved seating, simply present your JR Pass to the gate staff to board your train.

Once you have your JR Pass in hand, you are ready to embark on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line. There are many options concerning trains and points of departure, as outlined below.

Hokuriku Shinkansen Stations

The primary stations of note along the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line are Tokyo Station, Nagano Station, and Kanazawa Station.

Additional stations along this line include :

  • Iiyama
  • Joetsumyoko
  • Itoigawa
  • Kurobe-Unazuki Onsen
  • Toyama
  • Shin-Takaoka
  • Kanazawa

From March 16, 2024, the stations along the extension to Tsuruga include:

  • Komatsu
  • Kaga Onsen
  • Awara Onsen
  • Fukui
  • Echizen-Takefu
  • Tsuruga

If you wish to bypass the smaller stations along your route, consider reserving a seat on the express train Kagayaki. The Hakutaka also bypasses many stations between Tokyo and Nagano.


Hokuriku Shinkansen Line Map
The Hokuriku Shinkansen Line Map

Train Services

You can use the Hokuriku Shinkansen to travel to Nagano, Kanazawa, Toyama, and a number of other destinations. Consider the following train services connecting Tokyo, Nagano, Kanazawa, and Tsuruga.

Kagayaki Shinkansen

Tokyo – Ueno – Omiya – Nagano – Toyama – Kanazawa

The Kagayaki: the fastest train on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line. This train stops from Tokyo to Kanazawa in Ueno Station, Omiya Station, Nagano Station and Toyama Station.

The journey from Tokyo to Kanazawa will take you less than two and a half hours. The train operates at 260 km/h (160mph). The Kagayaki features only reserved seats, in both its green class and the luxury Gran Class cars.

Most Kagayaki trains will operate between Tokyo and Tsuruga from March 16, 2024.

Kagayaki Seat reservation

Hakutaka Shinkansen

Tokyo – Ueno – Omiya – Takasaki – Nagano – Joetsu-Myoko – Itoigawa – Kurobe-Unazukionsen – Toyama – Shin-Takaoka – Kanazawa

Hakutaka makes more stops between Tokyo and Kanazawa than the Kagayaki (less than 3 hours). The operating speed of Hakutaka is 260 km/h (160 mph).

About one in three Hakutaka trains will travel all the way to Tsuruga starting on March 16, 2024. They will make stops at every station along the route from Kanazawa to Tsuruga.

Hakutaka Seat reservation

Asama Shinkansen

Tokyo – Ueno – Omiya – Takasaki – Karuizawa – Sakudaira – Ueda – Nagano

The Asama takes its name from Mount Asama, an active volcano near Karuizawa. Two train types are operating the Asama train services: 8-coach and 12-coach train sets. Both are non-smoking trains with reserved and non-reserved seating space, Green Cars, and wheelchair space.

Asama Seat reservation

Tsurugi Shinkansen

Toyama – Shin-Takaoka – Kanazawa

The Tsurugi train serves as the main connection between Toyama and Kanazawa. The service was first introduced in 1961 and included a sleeping car. After many line reformations, the Tsurugi uses 12-coach trains, 3 of which are not in use currently. 1 of the 12 cars a Green Car (first class).

The majority of Tsurugi trains will run between Toyama and Tsuruga starting on March 16, 2024, with a small number running just between Kanazawa and Tsuruga.

Most trains will stop at every station, but stopping patterns will vary by train. The restrictions on using select cars will end on March 16.

Tsurugi Seat reservation


Tokyo to Nagano

Zenkoji shrine in Nagano

A Shinkansen train known as the Asama, named after a large active volcano, makes the trek from Tokyo Station to Nagano Station. At Tokyo Station, you can locate the Shinkansen departure tracks from Track 20 to Track 23. You may also take the Kagayaki or Hakutaka trains from Tokyo to Nagano as described above.

Tokyo to Kanazawa

Kenrokuen Garden at Kanazawa
Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa – Photo by @Daderot (Wikimedia)

From either Tokyo Station or Nagano Station, you can take the express train Kagayaki or the Hakutaka to Kanazawa Station.

The trip from Tokyo to Kanazawa takes only two and a half hours on the express train or about three to three and a half hours on the non-express train. If using this train, take care to make your set reservations in advance.

If all seats are booked, standing tickets can be purchased. The Kagayaki typically departs during morning and evening hours.

An additional train called the Tsurugi operates on this line between Kanazawa Station and Toyama Station. The Tsurugi trains do not connect to Tokyo or Nagano and cater mostly to local traffic commuting between the two cities.

Note that several of the train cars of the Tsurugi, specifically cars 8, 9, 10, and 12, cannot be used. However, this will change from March 16, 2024, when the line extends to Tsuruga.

Hokuriku Shinkansen expansion from March 16, 2024

Tsuruga shrine

The Hokuriku Shinkansen is embarking on a new chapter with its extension to Tsuruga, starting March 16, 2024.

The fastest trains will link Tokyo and Tsuruga in 3 hours and 8 minutes, trimming the travel time by up to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, the journey from Tokyo to Fukui is reduced to 2 hours and 51 minutes. This offers a substantial time saving of 36 minutes compared to current routes​​​​.

With 14 round trips planned each day between Tokyo and Tsuruga, the extension promises increased flexibility and convenience for travelers​​.

The extension will also lead to changes in existing services. The Limited Express Thunderbird, which currently connects Kanazawa with Kyoto and Osaka, will operate on a shortened route between Tsuruga and Osaka.

Additionally, the Shirasagi service, running between Nagoya and Kanazawa, will now terminate at Tsuruga. As a result, some limited express services will be discontinued, including the Ohayo Express, Oyasumi Express, and Dinostar​​.

The Hokuriku Shinkansen’s expansion to Tsuruga is a step toward the ultimate goal of extending the line to Osaka. At present, this section is expected to open by 2046​​.

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