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Kansai and Chubu are two of the most beautiful regions of Japan. Both are bursting with attractions for almost all types of traveler: countless heritage sites, breathtaking nature, bountiful markets, and irresistible cuisine.

Thanks to the country’s sprawling transportation network, it is easy to get around these two regions. Major cities are connected by efficient railway and highway bus systems. It’s no wonder many travelers include Kansai and Chubu in their Japan itinerary!

While numerous tourist passes are available for exploring each individual region, there are only a few that cover BOTH. One of them is the JR Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass.

Offered by JR Central and JR West, this pass allows the user unlimited rides on JR local and limited express trains, Hokuriku Shinkansen and buses in these areas:

  • some areas in Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Kansai Airport)
  • Nagoya
  • Hokuriku area (Fukui, Ishikawa, and Toyama)
  • Gifu (Gero and Takayama as a jump-off point for Shirakawa-go)

The pass is valid for 5 consecutive days.

This will help you save a considerable amount compared to purchasing regular tickets. For example, for our itinerary, it would have cost us ¥25,000-30,000 without the pass (all non-reserved seats). The pass only costs around half of that and with up to four free reserved seats. We saved a lot using the pass. Here are more information and details about this pass — price, where to buy, how to use, and the coverage.

How much is the pass?

You can purchase the pass outside of Japan, online, or when you arrive in Japan. The price varies depending on where you purchase the pass.

  • Purchasing Abroad and Online: ¥14,260 (Adult); ¥7,130 (Child)
  • Purchasing in Japan: ¥15,280 (Adult); ¥7,640 (Child)


  1. This pass is only available to foreigners with the “Temporary Visitor” status/visa. The pass is non-transferable. Only the person whose name is on the pass can use it.
  2. The pass is valid for 5 consecutive days. The validity date is specified on the pass. For example, the validity date on my pass was from February 24 to February 28, 2020.
  3. Children age is 6-11 years old. 12 years old and above are considered adults already. Children 5 years and below are free, but they will share the seat with the accompanying adult.
  4. Secure your pass and don’t lose it. It will not be replaced or reissued whether it’s lost or stolen.

Where to Buy

  • Purchasing in Japan. You can purchase at the JR ticket office at major railway stations such as Tokyo, Nagoya, Chubu Centrair Airport, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kansai Airport. In our case, we got our pass at Kansai Airport station JR ticket office.
  • Purchasing Outside Japan. You can also buy from the select travel agencies outside Japan. For the Philippines, there are agencies in Manila, Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasay, Taguig, and Cebu. Some of these agencies are Reli Tours, ATTIC Tours, Rakso, Discovery Tours, Universal Holidays, and JTB Travel Saloon. You may also ask your trusted travel agents if they offer this pass.

    You will receive an MCO (miscellaneous charges order) that you need to exchange into the actual pass within three months from the date of issue of the MCO. You can exchange at the JR ticket office at major railway stations such as Tokyo, Nagoya, Chubu Centrair Airport, Kyoto, Osaka, and Kansai Airport.

  • Reserving Online. You can reserve your pass online through JR West online train reservation or via other online ticketing sites like Klook. Remember to take note of the instructions and guidelines on where and how to redeem and pick up your actual pass.



  1. When purchasing, exchanging or picking up your pass, the people who will actually use the pass should be present. Don’t forget to bring your passport and the MCO (if purchased outside Japan) or your credit card (if online reservation).
  2. The details you provided for the MCO and the pass cannot be changed or modified.
  3. Read all the instructions on how to exchange and pick up especially for those who purchased outside Japan and online. Take note of the information that you need to provide and the things to bring upon exchange/pick up.

What are the areas covered by the pass?

Area Coverage

The Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass can be used in these areas in the Kansai and Chubu regions.

  • Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya
  • Hokuriku Subregion: Ishikawa (Kanazawa), Fukui and Toyama
  • Gifu: Takayama, Shirakawa-go, Gero

Note that the pass doesn’t cover all of Chubu or all of Kansai, but only the areas specified above.

Shirakawa-go in Winter

Route Coverage

  • Unlimited use of JR limited express, express, rapid, and local trains with non-reserved seats between Nagoya and Toyama, Kyoto/Osaka (Shin-Osaka) and Kanazawa, Osaka and Kansai Airport, and within central Osaka.
  • Unlimited use of JR Hokuriku Shinkansen with non-reserved seats between Toyama Station and Kanazawa Station.
  • Unlimited use of Nohi Bus, Toyama Chitetsu Bus, and Hokutetsu Bus between Takayama Nohi Bus Center, Shirakawa-go, and Kanazawa. Another route is between Takayama Nohi Bus Center, Shirakawa-go, and Toyama.
  • Unlimited use of Kaetsuno Bus between Shirakawa-go, Gokayama, and Shin-Takaoka Station.

JR Railway and Bus Lines Coverage

  • JR Railways: Tokaido/Takayama Lines (Nagoya-Toyama), Hokuriku/Kosei/Tokaido Lines (Osaka-Kanazawa), Hanwa/Kansai Airport Lines (Osaka-Kansai Airport & Osaka City), and Hokuriku Shinkansen (Toyama-Kanazawa)
  • Bus Lines: Nohi Bus, Toyama Chitetsu Bus, Hokutetsu Bus, and Kaetsuno Bus.


  1. Inclusive of up to four (4) reserved seats on ordinary lines on the limited express trains EXCEPT the Limited Express Haruka and Hokuriku Shinkansen. When you want to use one of the four reserved seating, make sure to go to the JR ticket office to get the free seat ticket.
  2. Only non-reserved seats for Limited Express “Haruka” (between Osaka and Kansai Airport) and Hokuriku Shinkansen (between Kanazawa and Toyama).
  3. This pass does not cover Green Car seats or Gran Class seats. It only includes unlimited non-reserved seats plus your four free reserved seats.
  4. You cannot refund unused reserved seats in case you were not able to avail of all four slots.
  5. This pass does not cover the ride on Tokaido Shinkansen between Kyoto Station and Shin-Osaka Station.
  6. For Nohi Bus, Toyama Chitetsu Bus, and Hokutetsu Bus, a reservation is required. You may reserve up to a month prior to your travel date. Here are the contact details:
    • For Takayama – Shirakawa-go – Kanazawa Route
      (+81) 577-32-1688 (Nohi Bus) / (+81) 76-234-0123 (Hokuriku Railway)
      Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    • For Takayama – Shirakawa-go – Toyama Route
      (+81) 577-32-1688 (Nohi Bus) / (+81) 76-433-4890 (Toyama Railway)
      Office Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Nohi) / 8:30 AM – 7:00 PM (Toyama)
  7. No prior reservation needed for Kaetsuno Bus.

How to Use

If you purchase the pass from Klook, you will be presented two options on how you want to get the Exchange Voucher, which you will use to get the pass: Delivery or Airport Pickup. If you opt for pickup, you will be emailed a voucher. Then follow these steps.

If you choose delivery when you book with Klook, you will be sent the Exchange Order. Then, skip to Step 2.

  1. Upon arrival at the airport, drop by their designated location or store and present your voucher. The staff may also check your passport for confirmation. You will be given an Exchange Order.
  2. After entering Japan, proceed to the JR Office at major train station and provide the Exchange Order and your passport to the staff. You will be issued the pass, which is valid for five days. You don’t have to use it right away. You will be asked the date when you plan to first use it.
  3. To use the pass, simply present the pass to the attendant at the manned gate. If it’s your very first time to use the pass, the attendant will stamp a seal on the pass.
  4. For every succeeding use, all you need to do is show the pass to the staff beside the manned gates. They will not stamp the pass anymore. They’ll just check it.

To use it for trains with reserved seating, drop by the JR counter first before proceeding to the gates. You will be given a ticket, which shows your car number and seat number.


  1. Always have your passport with you in case the attendant or train car conductor asks for it.
  2. Plan your itinerary well, so you can plot and determine which train trips to use the four free reserved seats.
  3. Review the Terms of Use including the guidelines and other concerns like refunds.
  4. To maximize this pass, plan your itinerary well.
  5. You may use Hyperdia to track the schedule and to get other information regarding your train rides like the platform number and the type of trains.
  6. Be mindful of the time and train/bus schedule.
  7. Always check the platform, your train car number, and seat number to avoid waiting at the wrong platform, entering the wrong car, and taking the wrong seat. You can check the platform number on Hyperdia or the electronic signage at the station.

    2020 • 3 • 16

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Asta Alvarez

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