Kanazawa has excellent bus transportation services that make it super easy to get around the city. As well as regular city buses there are special bus services for tourists that cover all the major sightseeing locations. Information, advice and free bus maps, are also easy to get, either at the Tourist Information Center inside Kanazawa Station or at the Transportation Information Center which is right outside the station’s East Gate exit. In this article we will look at the best bus services to use when visiting Kanazawa.
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Kanazawa Station’s East Gate Bus Terminal
Kanazawa Station has a bus terminal at both its east and west gates, but the tourist buses all depart from the East Gate bus terminal. This terminal is very easy to use. There is an information center right outside the station exit where you can ask which bus to use. Here you can also pick up maps and timetables and buy discount bus passes. All the bus stops at the terminal are clearly numbered and signed with their destinations in Japanese and English. Departure signs also show when each bus is leaving.
Hokutetsu Tourist Buses
The Hokutetsu Bus company runs two bus services that are specially designed for tourists: the Loop Bus and the Kenrokuen Shuttle. These are the easiest bus services to use, because there is plenty of information available in English, and because they stop at all the important sightseeing locations. There is also a One Day Pass available that can make these services very economical.
The Kanazawa Loop Bus
There are two Loop Buses that follow circular routes from Kanazawa Station through all the major tourist locations before returning back to the station. One bus follows a right loop course and the other follows a left loop course. There is a flat rate fee for these buses of 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for children. The buses depart from bus stop #7 at Kanazawa Station’s East Gate bus terminal every 15 minutes from 8.30 to 18.00.
The Right Loop Bus travels east from Kanazawa Station through the Kazue-machi and Higashi Chaya-gai tea house districts, then goes south between Kanazawa Castle and the Kenrokuen Garden, passes the museum district at Hirosaka, and then heads back west through the Katamachi, and Kohrinbo shopping districts, then it stops at Omicho Ichiba Market before returning to Kanazawa Station.
The Left Loop Bus follows almost the same route in reverse, except it also passes through the Teramachi Temple district between Katamachi and Hirosaka. Basically if you want to visit Omicho Ichiba Market or the Hirosaka Museum area first you should take the Left Loop Bus. If you want to go first to the Higashi Chaya-gai, the Kenrokuen Garden or Kanazawa Castle then take the Right Loop Bus. The entire loop takes about 40 – 45 minutes.
Popular Hotels near Kanazawa Station
The Kenrokuen Shuttle
This bus takes just 16 minutes to reach Kenrokuen Garden stopping at Omicho Ichiba Market, the Kohrinbo shopping district, and the Hirosaka museum district on the way. There is a flat rate fee of 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for children. However, at the weekend or on public holidays this fee is halved to just 100 yen for adults and 50 yen for children. The bus departs from bus stop #6 at Kanazawa Station’s East Gate bus terminal every 20 minutes from 9.30 to 17.50.
The Hokutetsu One Day Pass
The Hokutetsu Onse Day Pass is a discount ticket that covers both the Loop Bus and the Kenrokuen Shuttle. This gives you unlimited rides on these services and so is worth buying if you plan to take the bus several times in one day. The pass costs just 500 yen for adults, and 250 yen for children. To use it, all you have to do is show it to the driver when you get off the bus. This pass can also be used on the Hokutetsu company’s regular local bus routes. You can download an excellent Hokutetsu pamphlet with a map and timetables in English that shows all the bus routes covered by the one day pass.
The Kanazawa Light-Up Bus
The Kanazawa Light-Up Bus is a special bus service that runs on Saturday evenings. This bus stops at 16 illuminated sightseeing locations over the course of a 43 minute circuit. Buses depart from bus stop #7 at Kanazawa Station’s East Exit bus terminal at the following times:
19.00, 19.10, 19.20, 19.30, 19.50, 20.00, 20.10, 20.20, 20.40, 20.50, 21.00, 21.10
A single ride costs 300 yen for adults and 150 yen for children. Though this bus is run by the Hokutetsu company it is not covered by the Hokutetsu One Day Pass. However, if you want to use this bus multiple times in one evening, there is a special Light-Up Bus Unlimited Ride Pass. This pass costs 500 yen for adults and 250 yen for children. For more details of this service and a map download the official Light-Up Bus pamphlet.
The JR Machi-Bus
The JR Machi-Bus (also called the Kanazawa Shopping Liner) is a special bus service that runs only on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. This bus stops at all the major shopping areas in Kanazawa such as Omicho Ichiba Market, and the Kohrinbo, Katamachi and Tatemachi shopping streets. It also takes in a few of the popular tourist locations such as Oyama Jinja Shrine, the Hirosaka museum district, and the Kenrokuen Garden. Buses depart from bus stop #5 at Kanazawa Station’s East gate bus terminal. The Machi-Bus makes regular departures between 9.40 and 20.00; leaving every 20 minutes until 18.00 and then every 30 minutes until 20.00. A single ride on the Machi-Bus costs just 100 yen for adults and 50 yen for children. It is not covered by any discount passes, but you can use a prepaid IC card such as ICOCA, SUICA or PASMO to pay your fare. You can simply wave your IC card over the card reader when you get off the bus.
Useful Tips for Kanazawa Buses
- In Kanazawa all buses are boarded from the rear and exited from the front.
- Payment is also made at the front, into a machine by the driver’s seat.
- You should pay the exact fare in cash. IC cards can be used only on the JR Machi-Bus. If you don’t have the exact fare, there is a change machine beneath the payment slot that can break down coins and 1000 yen notes.