Take advantage of the convenient Hokuriku Shinkansen and venture into the prefectures of Fukui, Toyama, and Ishikawa with this easy eight-day itinerary.

Or make it longer — we’ve only touched upon what the Hokuriku region has to offer. Go out and discover for yourself what other hidden townscapes, natural wonders, and spiritual experiences it holds.

Pro tip: Train travel to many of these spots is covered by the Hokuriku Arch Pass.

Suggested Activity
Go Bar Hopping in Osaka [With Full Dinner]
Spend an evening exploring the bars in Osaka's popular nightlife district of Namba. Sample tasty Japanese pub-style food, and wash it down with your choice of drinks, from sake to umeshu and beer — all in the company of a knowledgeable guide!

Day 1: Tokyo to Toyama City

Tokyo Station to Toyama Station via the Hokuriku Shinkansen
¥12,960, or use a Hokuriku Arch Pass
2 hours and 8 minutes

Speed off to Toyama City and leave the perpetual buzz of Tokyo behind. Toyama is in the heart of Toyama Prefecture, and is your base for two nights as you get better acquainted with the region.

Iwase

For the rest of the day, explore the traditional Iwase area, only 20 minutes north of Toyama Station via the city’s tram (not covered by the Hokuriku Arch Pass). Get off at Higashi-Iwase, Keirinjo-mae, or Iwase-hama.

Iwase was once a bustling port town with important trade links. Now it’s famous for its Meiji-era buildings and delicious food scene. Visit the store Otsukaya for unusual triangular dorayaki (Japanese pancakes), or sit down at a mom-and-pop soba shop for a bite to eat.

mountains surrounding Toyama during cherry blossom season
Photo by © Toyama Tourism Organization (Public Interest Corporation)

Kansui Park

Venture back to central Toyama, but this time using the Fugan Suijo Line (not covered by the Hokuriku Arch Pass), which takes you on a one-hour cruise along the Fugan Canal.

Finish the day exploring Kansui Park, which includes a picturesque Starbucks and the nearby Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design. If you crave more, head south of Toyama Station and visit the Glass Art Museum and Toyama Castle.

Day 2: Kurobe Gorge

Toyama Station to Unazukionsen Station via the Hokuriku Shinkansen and Toyama Chiho Railway Main Line (not covered by the Hokuriku Arch Pass)
¥3,630
1 hour (est.)

Suggested Activity
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Introduce yourself to one of the most majestic sites of Toyama Prefecture: Kurobe Gorge and its sightseeing railway.

Tourist railway running along the Kurobe Gorge
Photo by Getty Images

Toyama to Kurobe Gorge

Start early and grab the Shinkansen from Toyama to Kurobe-Unazukionsen, change to Shin-Kurobe Station, and then take the Toyama Chiho Railway Main Line to Unazukionsen Station.

Kurobe Gorge Railway

Unazuki Station, a two-minute walk from Unazukionsen Station, is the boarding point for the sightseeing train. You can buy tickets (from ¥1,410) in advance or on the day (timetable).

The open-air train will ferry you over bright crimson bridges and into Kurobe Gorge. Depending on the season, the full round-trip can take either 80 minutes or two hours, with the option to get off and explore trails, natural hot springs, and observation points when the weather is ideal.

Note: Due to repair work, currently the train’s terminus is Nekomata Station (around halfway). The whole line should resume operating in 2025.

Suggested Activity
Zoom Through Osaka in a Go-kart (Costume Included)
Feel like you are in a video game with this fun go-karting experience. Ideal for small groups, the tour allows you to explore Osaka in a unique and exciting way. 

Day 3: Shirakawago

Toyama to Shirakawago via bus
¥2,400
1 hour and 20 minutes

Time to head further into the mountains and see the thatched-roof houses of Gokayama and Shirakawago, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Traditional and Historical Japanese village Shirakawago in autumn season
Photo by Getty Images

Note that Gokayama includes the villages of Suganuma and Ainokura, and they are not within walking distance of each other!

Toyama to Shirakawago

Treat yourself and sleep in; the bus from Toyama to Shirakawago doesn’t leave till around 10 a.m. There are limited options from Toyama, so if you want to go earlier, take a bus from Shin-Takaoka Station.

Shirakawago (Ogimachi Village)

As you descend on Shirakawago, spot your first glimpse of the triangle-shaped gasshō-zukuri houses — we suggest calling one of these buildings home for the night. After you arrive, sit down for a bite of local beef before visiting a museum or two and taking photos from the observation deck.

Alternative option: Switch out Shirakawago for Ainokura Village in Gokayama if you want the same vibes but fewer people. Note that there’s not a direct bus from Ainokura to Kanazawa.

Or if you want to go from Kanazawa to Shirakawago, you can take an easy tour.

Day 4: Gokayama and Kanazawa

Shirakawago to Suganuma Village (Gokayama) via bus
¥870
30 minutes (timetable)

Wake up fresh in your gasshō inn and hop on a 25-minute bus to Suganuma Village in Gokayama, where you’ll spend the morning before traveling to Kanazawa.

Gokayama (Suganuma Village)

Gokayama’s humble hamlets open a window into everyday mountain life. Stroll around Suganuma Village and breathe in the peace.

To see Gokayama and other World Heritage villages without worrying about bus times, consider joining a private tour from Kanazawa instead. These bus tours take a similar route.

Kanazawa

Suganuma Village (Gokayama) to Kanazawa via bus
¥2,000
1 hour

Make it to Kanazawa in Ishikawa Prefecture for midday. Check the timetable, as timings may change depending on the season. Booking is required.

Head to the old Samurai District of Nagamachi to peek into the past lives of feudal lords. We recommend visiting the Nomura Samurai Family House, where koi, green tea, swords, and armor are on full display.

Photo by Aimee Gardner

Next up is the main geisha district, Higashi Chaya, which is almost synonymous with gold. Stroll through the glimmering streets at golden hour, try gold-leaf ice cream, or even splurge on a golden facemask. You can also peruse the craft stores, meet geiko, or ride a rickshaw.

Note: Geisha are known as geigi or geiko in Kanazawa.

Continue the luxury with a kaiseki dinner celebrating local cuisine at Kinjohro Hotel.

Photo by Alex Ziminski

Pro tip: Also visit the quieter Kazuemachi Chaya District across the river from Higashi Chaya.

Day 5: Kanazawa

Kanazawa Castle up close
Photo by Alex Ziminski

Today’s the day to walk in the footsteps of the ancient samurai lord of Kanazawa, Maeda Toshiie. See where he called home and head to Kanazawa Castle Park to behold one of the largest wooden castles in Japan.

Kenrokuen Gardens
Photo by Alex Ziminski

Over a bridge and you’re in Kenrokuen Garden. This beautiful landscape garden is ideal for a leisurely stroll and to try a traditional tea ceremony with English-language explanations. Also, just south of Kenrokuen is the D.T. Suzuki Museum and a Zen experience at Houenji Temple.

Day 6: Tōjinbō Cliffs and Oshima Island

Start the day in Kanazawa with a sushi breakfast at Omicho Market before heading off to Fukui.

Awara Onsen

Kanazawa to Awara-Yunomachi Station via Shinkansen and bus
¥3,160
Around 1 hour

Your entry into Fukui Prefecture begins with the onsen town of Awara. When coming from Kanazawa, change to a bus at Awara Onsen Station for Awara-Yunomachi. Surround yourself with tranquil hot springs — including a free foot bath — and check in to one of the area’s hotels, such as the traditional wooden townhouse Auberge Homachi.

Tōjinbō Cliffs and Oshima Island

Jump on a bus again and head to the start of a coastal walkway or directly to Tōjinbō Cliffs, an impressive jagged coastline that inspires ghost tales. Climb the nearby tower at sunset to watch the day sink into the sea.

Tojinbo and Oshima Island, Fukui Prefecture, Honshu, Japan
Photo by Getty Images

A 30-minute walk (or five-minute bus ride) away is the picturesque Oshima Island, which is connected to the mainland by a 224-meter-long vermillion bridge. A brisk walk around the island takes only an hour.

Day 7: Ichijōdani Asakura Ruins and Daihonzan Eiheiji Fukui

Awara-Yunomachi Station to Eiheiji Temple via train and bus
¥1,480
Around 1 hour and 10 minutes

Change to a bus into the mountains at Fukui Station for an intimate look at Fukui’s long-standing culture and history.

Eiheiji Temple

Make your way to Eiheiji Temple to drop off your bags at either your mountain hotel or traditional monastery. Here, you can experience the life of a monk through meditations and authentic Buddhist cuisine, shojin ryori.

Don’t stop. For now, make your way to the Asakura Ruins.

Pro tip: If you don’t mind carrying your luggage, or want to opt for a hotel in the center of Fukui, we recommend first going to Ichijōdani Asakura Ruins from Fukui Station (timetable), then Eiheiji Temple.

Ichijōdani Asakura Ruins

Eiheiji Temple to Ichijōdani Asakura Ruins (or vice versa) via bus
¥450
17 minutes

The Ichijōdani Asakura Ruins are remnants of a samurai town paused in the Sengoku period (15th – 16th century). Ruled by the Asakura clan, it once flourished with temples, houses, and shops. Excavation brought the town back to life — minus the inhabitants — so you can now walk through the reconstructed streets.

Cherry blossoms at Ichijyo-tani Asakura ruins, Fukui Prefecture, Honshu, Japan
Photo by Getty Images

Note: The bus that connects Asakura Ruins and Eiheiji Temple departs infrequently. Check the timetable (or consider a taxi).

Return to Eiheiji Temple

The Eiheiji Temple complex is steeped in Zen — it’s not known as “The Temple of Eternal Peace” for nothing. Walk inside the temple grounds and experience a hidden pocket away from the rest of the world.

Day 8: Dinosaur Museum and back to Tokyo

Eiheiji Temple to Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum via train and bus
¥1,350
1 hour and 30 minutes

Take a bus, train, and shuttle bus to the most famous spot in Fukui — the Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum.

Optional extra: Try out the sake brewery Eshikoto and taste 200 years of history.

Dinosaur Museum

Did you know that Fukui was the home base for many of our favorite prehistoric animals? So much so that they found enough artifacts to open one of the largest dinosaur museums in the world.

Dig deep and find thousands of specimens, including dino bones, skeletons, and large-scale dioramas. Head back to Fukui Station using the bus and Echizen Railway in around one hour and 30 minutes.

Fukui to Tokyo

Fukui to Tokyo Station via the Hokuriku Shinkansen
¥15,610
3 hours and 30 minutes

Break up the return trip to Tokyo with a quick stop to try some Echizen crab, a local delicacy, near Fukui Station. After that, retrace your journey through the Shinkansen window as you whizz past the memories of your Hokuriku adventure.

But it doesn’t have to end there. Add a day or two and discover Tsuruga, tackle the stunning landscapes of the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, or venture into the Kaga Onsen area in Ishikawa.

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