Taking a highway bus can be a cheap option if you are making a long distance trip from Kanazawa Station. There are two main companies that run highway bus services from Kanazawa Station: JR and Hokutetsu. Both of these companies have information counters at the Transport Information Center which is just outside the east exit of Kanazawa Station. Prices vary a lot according to the particular bus service, the date of departure and the time of day, but Hokutetsu buses are often cheaper than those of JR.
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JR Highway Express Buses
JR Highway Express Buses all depart from bus stop #5 at Kanazawa Station’s East Gate bus terminal. JR runs several buses daily to the following destinations: Toyama, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, and destinations in Tokyo such as Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Tokyo Station, and Ueno. You can look up journey times and fares and make bookings at Kousokubus.net or make inquiries directly at the Transport Information Center.
Hokutetsu Highway Buses
Hokutetsu Highway Buses and some associated companies run highway buses from bus stop #2 at Kanazawa Station’s East Gate bus terminal. Some of the services listed by Hokutetsu are actually run by other private bus companies but you can still book the tickets at the Hokutetsu counter. Hokutetsu has a wider range of destinations than JR. These include destinations that are fairly close such as Kaga Onsen, Toyama, Takaoka, and Fukui. There are also major destinations like Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, and Shibuya and Hachioji in Tokyo. And there are also more distant destinations such as Niigata, Sendai, Yamagata, Yokohama, Kamakura, Shirakawa-go and Takayama. Unfortunately, Hokutetsu have very limited online information in English about their highway bus services. You can either have someone help you use their Japanese website, or ask directly at the Kanazawa Station Transport Information Center.
Night Bus Services
For really long journeys taking a night bus can be a way to save money and the cost of one night’s stay at a hotel. You sleep all night on the bus and wake up early at your destination. However, some people find it hard to sleep on a night bus and arrive very tired. On some JR services though, it is possible to pay more for more comfortable seating. Both JR and Hokutetsu run a variety of night bus services from Kanazawa Station. JR run night bus services to Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Tokyo Station and Ueno. Hokutetsu run night bus services to Shibuya, Hachioji, Yokohama, Kamakura, Sendai, and Yamagata.
Willer Express is another highway bus company that runs just two night bus services from Kanazawa Station. Unlike the other companies these buses run from the bus terminal on the west side of the station. These services run every night and are both bound for destinations in Tokyo. The first service departs from the bus stop #1 at the West Gate bus terminal at 21.10 and arrives at Ikebukuro at 6.00 and Tokyo Disneyland at 7.30 the following morning. The second service departs from bus stop #2 at the West Gate bus terminal at 22.45 and arrives at Shinjuku at 6.30 and at Tokyo Disneyland at 7.20 the following morning. You can book these services online on the Willer Express English website.
The Willer Express Japan Bus Pass
If you intend to continue using Willer Express for other journeys around Japan you might consider buying a Willer Express Japan Bus Pass. This can be used on all long distance buses on the Willer Express network for three days or five days that you choose within two months of purchase. The three day pass costs 10,000 yen and the five day pass 15,000. This bus pass can only be used by temporary visitors to Japan and must be purchased online on the Willer Express website.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.