14th March, 2015 saw the official opening of the new Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train route between Nagano and Kanazawa. The Nagano Shinkansen bullet train used to run only between Tokyo and Nagano but has now been extended and connects Tokyo and Kanazawa with a new name, the ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen.’ The Hokuriku Shinkansen runs at a maximum speed of 285 km per hour and travels the 450 km route between Tokyo and Kanazawa in just two and a half hours. The same journey took nearly four hours prior to the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. The route from Tokyo to the Hokuriku region, including Toyama prefecture, is greatly improved with its attractive scenery represented by the mountains of Tateyama Kurobe, and to Ishikawa prefecture with Kanazawa, the popular historical city of the Kaga domain.

Japan’s newest bullet train: Hokuriku Shinkansen

Posted on 10/07/2015

The 4 types of the Hokuriku Shinkansen

Japanese bullet trains all have unique names such as ‘Nozomi’ (Hope), ‘Hikari’ (Light), and ‘Kodama’ (Echo) on the Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen bullet train railway line, and ‘Hayabusa’ (Peregrine falcon) and ‘Yamabiko’ (Mountain echo) on the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train railway line. The Hokuriku Shinkansen has a set-up of the following four train names according to its operating system, such as the intervals at which the trains operate and the stations at which they stop.    

KAGAYAKI (Shine)

The fastest type among the four types of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, connecting Tokyo and Kanazawa in approx. two and a half hours.

・Number per day: 10 round trips between Tokyo and Kanazawa

・Train stops at: Tokyo, Ueno, Omiya, Nagano, Toyama, and Kanazawa.

 

HAKUTAKA (White hawk)

Same as the Kagayaki, this operates between Tokyo and Kanazawa but stops at more stations and therefore takes longer.

・Number per day: 14 round trips between Tokyo and Kanazawa, 1 round trip between Nagano and Kanazawa

・Train stops at: Tokyo, Ueno, Omiya, (Takasaki), (Annaka Haruna), (Karuizawa), (Sakudaira), (Ueda), Nagano, (Iiyama), Joetsu Myoko, Itoigawa, Kurobe Unazuki Onsen, Toyama, Sin Takaoka, Kanazawa

※Some of the trains will not stop at the stations in brackets. You must check before getting on the train.

 

TSURUGI

(Meaning sword but came from Mt Tsurugi-dake in Toyama region)

Shuttle-type operation between Toyama and Kanazawa.

・Number per day: 18 round trips between Toyama and Kanazawa

・Train stops at: Toyama, Shin-Takaoka, Kanazawa

 

ASAMA

(The name comes from Mount Asama)

The original type of Nagano Shinkansen bullet train that operates between Tokyo and Nagano.

・Number per day: 16 round trips between Tokyo and Nagano

・Train stops at: Tokyo, Ueno, Omiya, (Kumagaya), (Honjo Waseda), Takasaki, (Annnaka Haruna), Karuizawa, Sakudaira, Ueda, and Nagano.

※Some of the trains will not stop at the stations in brackets. You must check before getting on the train.

 

All of the above are 12-coach trains. They consist of one Gran Class (first-class) carriage, one Green Class (upper-class) carriage, and 10 standard carriages. (Some of the ‘Tsurugi’ shuttle-type trains have a different carriage formation.)   

Thanks to the opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, people can now easily make a day trip from Tokyo to Kanazawa. If you take the Kagayaki 503 departing Tokyo Station at 07:20, you will arrive at Kanazawa Station at 09:54. For your return, take the Kagayaki 518 departing Kanazawa Station at 21:00 and you will have more than 10 hours to enjoy sightseeing in Kanazawa. You will have enough time to visit Kanazawa’s main tourist attractions such as Kenrokuen Garden, the Nagamachi Samurai district, and Higashi-chaya Teahouse district. Since Kanazawa’s main attractions are all located within a 15-minute radius of Kanazawa Station by bus, you won’t waste time getting around the city center. The Kanazawa loop bus that departs from the station will efficiently take you around the sightseeing spots in the town.

 

Do you have a JR Pass?

The Japan Rail Pass is valid on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. (If you wish to travel in Gran class, there is an additional charge.) A standard single fare from Tokyo to Kanazawa is 14,320 yen on Kagayaki, the fastest train. A 7-day JR Pass for standard class costs 29,110 yen (as of July 2015), which is almost the same as a return fare to Kanazawa from Tokyo. So if you have a JR Pass, it’s definitely worth a visit to Kanazawa.