The Nanao Line is a railway line in Ishikawa Prefecture that runs between Tsubata Station and Anamizu Station. It is an important route for accessing destinations on the Noto Peninsula. The line is operated by two companies: JR West and by the semi-private Noto Railway. This line does not connect directly with the rest of the JR West railway network. To access the line from Kanazawa Station passengers can take a through train service that runs along the IR Ishikawa Railway to Tsubata Station and then continues on the Nanao Line. Most through services from Kanazawa Station terminate at Nanao Station.
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The southern part of the Nanao Line from Tsubata Station to Wakura Onsen is run by JR West. There are 20 stations on this part of the line:
Tsubata –> Naka-Tsubata –> Hon-Tsubata –> Nose –> Unoke –> Yokoyama –> Takamatsu –> Menden –> Hodatsu –> Shikinami –> Minami-Hakui –> Hakui –> Chiji –> Kanemaru –> Notobe –> Yoshikawa –> Noto-Ninomiya –> Tokuda –> Nanao –> Wakura Onsen
Nanao Station and Wakura Onsen Station are jointly operated by JR West and the Noto Railway, and then the remaining 6 stations are fully under the control of the Noto Railway:
Wakura Onsen –> Tatsuruhama –> Kasashiho –> Noto-Nakajima –> Nishigishi –> Noto-Kashima –> Anamizu
This line previously continued on from Anamizu Station to the city of Wajima but this section of the line was closed in 2001. Passengers who wish to visit Wajima should now take a bus from Anamizu Station, or take a direct bus from Kanazawa.
Below are the main destinations with fares and example train times given from Kanazawa Station.
Tsubata Station is jointly operated by JR West and IR Ishikawa Railway. Through trains bound for Nanao Station join the Nanao Line here.
Train fare: 270 yen
Train time: 12 minutes
Unoke Station serves the city of Kahoku. This is the closest station to the Nishida Kitaro Museum of Philosophy. Nishida Kitaro was an important 20th century philosopher who was born in Ishikawa Prefecture and who founded the Kyoto School of philosophy. The museum preserves mementos from his life, and examples of his poetry and calligraphy. The museum building, by the famous architect Tadao Ando, is designed to reflect Nishida Kitaro’s ideas. The museum is a 20 minute walk from Unoke Station.
Train fare: 400 yen
Train time: 25 minutes
Exit here for the Cosmo Isle Space Science Museum which has exhibits dedicated to space exploration and UFO sightings. The city of Hakui has a reputation for being the number one location in Japan for UFO sightings.
Train fare: 820 yen
Train time: 1 hour
Nanao is the Noto Peninsula’s largest city. Exit here for the Nanao Art Museum, the preserved traditional buildings on the shopping street of Ipponsugi Dori, and the lively market at Nanao Fisherman’s Wharf which is a good place to pick up souvenirs. The Seihakusai Dekayama Festival, which takes place on May 3rd, 4th and 5th each year, is the Noto area’s biggest festival and features massive floats being pulled through the streets. On the last Saturday of July each year, Nanao hosts the “Monterey Jazz Festival” which attracts musicians from all over the world.
Local through train services from Kanazawa Station terminate at Nanao Station. Transfer here to reach Wakura Onsen or stations further north.
Train fare: 1,210 yen
Train time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Wakura Onsen Station
Wakura Onsen is a 1200 year old luxury hot spring resort. The baths here, overlooking the sea, are said to have many health benefits. Check the official Wakura website for recommended facilities. To visit the Notojima Glass Art Museum take a 20 minute bus ride from Wakura Onsen Station.
Train fare: 1,380 yen
Train time: 1 hour and 45 minutes with one transfer at Nanao Station
This is the northern terminus of the Nanao Line. Anamizu’s most traditional craft is metal casting and you can view the history of this local industry at the Noto Nakai Cast Metal Museum. Anamizu also holds a winter oyster festival on the last weekend of January each year.
Train fare: 2,090 yen
Train time: 2 hours and 20 minutes with one transfer at Nanao Station
At Kanazawa Station tickets for destinations on this line should be bought at IR Ishikawa Railway ticket machines, or from the IR Ishikawa Railway office.
Using the Japan Rail Pass
The Japan Rail Pass can only be used on the southern part of the Nanao Line that is run by JR West. It cannot be used on the section between Wakura Onsen and Anamizu that is run by Noto Railway. Passengers traveling from Kanazawa can also use the Japan Rail Pass to travel on the IR Ishikawa Railway on through train services that continue through Tsubata Station. However, the Japan Rail Pass cannot be used to travel from or to other stations on the IR Ishikawa Railway.
Limited Express Services for Wakura Onsen
There are three express services that run between Kanazawa Station and Wakura Onsen Station. These are the Limited Express Noto Kagaribi, the Limited Express Thunderbird, and the Hanayome Noren excursion train. These services are run by JR West and are fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass.
Article and original photos by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.