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2024.03 Go Beyond Japan’s Major Cities: Hokuriku Shinkansen Extension in 2024 Endless Fun for the Whole Family in Ishikawa and Fukui Prefectures

Photo credit:© East Japan Railway Company


With international visitors to Japan approaching an all-time high, escaping the major urban areas to explore is very rewarding for keen travelers. The Hokuriku Shinkansen has served to link Tokyo with Nagano (opened in 1997) and Kanazawa (extension completed in 2015), two major destinations in their own right. However, in March 2024, the line will be expanded from its previous terminus of Kanazawa to travel south through Ishikawa and Fukui prefectures. Explore this relatively unexplored side of Japan and enjoy cultural experiences great for the whole family across the six stations below and their surrounding areas.


New bullet train stops between Kanazawa (Ishikawa Prefecture) and Tsuruga (Fukui Prefecture) – open March 16, 2024 – provide even easier access to this beautiful region.

Komatsu Station: Views of Mt. Hakusan, sculpture gardens and more

Komatsu is the first station on the new Hokuriku Shinkansen extension, in the southwest of Ishikawa Prefecture. For travelers coming from Kanazawa, this will be the first stop when heading south. 


The Komatsu area features a number of attractions for travelers of all ages. First and foremost, the powerful Mt. Hakusan is the highest peak in the area, surging to 2,702 meters (8,865 feet) and serving as the source of the Tedori River. 


Mt. Hakusan is an immediate reminder of rural Japan’s natural grandeur.

Komatsu is also home to a very intriguing sculpture garden that features a giant Buddha head standing amidst the local forests and fields. 


This giant Buddha head serves as the entrance to a cave system and sculpture exhibition housed in an old rock quarry.

Lastly, visitors to Komatsu can also take in a number of amazing cars from all over the globe at Japan’s very first car museum! The collection here is sure to impress visitors of all ages who take the time to explore Komatsu and its surroundings.


The extensive collection of over 500 cars is guaranteed to impress adults and children alike.

Kaga Onsen Station: Hot springs galore on the last stop in Ishikawa Prefecture

Heading south from Komatsu, the next stop on the new Hokuriku Shinkansen extension, and the last on the Ishikawa side, is Kaga Onsen Station. This greater area famous for “onsen” hot springs includes four unique smaller areas, all of which offer distinct atmosphere and sights.

First, located quite close to Kaga Onsen Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, Yamashiro Onsen is accessible in about 15 minutes by bus, and boasts historic hot springs, alongside kutani pottery exhibitions and workshops.


Yamashiro Onsen’s traditional hot springs add great flavor to this rustic, traditional side of Ishikawa.

Secondly, Yamanaka Onsen in the foothills of the aforementioned Mt. Hakusan is also accessible from Kaga Onsen Station by bus, and provides views of breathtaking scenery alongside the chance to relax and unwind.


Yamanaka Onsen’s location in the foothills of Mt. Hakusan is truly spectacular.

The third hot springs area is Awazu Onsen, located 35 minutes from Kaga Onsen Station by bus. Here there is also a craft village where visitors can enjoy traditional Japanese papermaking, pottery, kaga yuzen silk design and more.


Awazu Onsen’s classic buildings offer a glimpse back into a simpler era of Japanese history.
Photo credit: Ⓒ Ishikawa Prefecture Tourism League


The final Kaga Onsen area is Katayamazu Onsen. Here the central bathhouse features striking modern architecture and floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Cycling around nearby Lake Shibayama, adjacent to the Japan Sea coast, is another great activity to enjoy in this quiet, idyllic area.


Katayamazu Onsen’s striking modern hot springs building offers great perspective against the quiet surroundings.
Photo credit: Ⓒ Ishikawa Prefecture Tourism League

Awara Onsen Station: Stunning bluffs and calming local vibes

Across the border into Fukui Prefecture, the next new stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen is Awara Onsen . Like its neighbor Kaga Onsen, this area is generally low key with a number of hot springs and foot baths that visitors can enjoy. One provocative location near Awara Onsen is Tojinbo, a location along the Japan Sea coast that provides stunning views of natural seaside bluffs.


The sweeping bluffs at Tojinbo are a picturesque stop, and the area has many shops and restaurants, too.

While the dramatic cliffside at Tojinbo is one of the greatest draws of this laid-back area, a local craft brewery and fruit orchard also offer enjoyable experiences for visitors to Fukui Prefecture.

Fukui Station: Dinosaurs and more in the prefectural capital

Fukui City is the capital of Fukui and has a number of historical connections to local feudal lords. As an Edo era castle town, it was the center of the Fukui Domain during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Located on the ancient castle ruin site, the Fukui Prefectural Government Office reflects this history today. Just a five-minute walk away, visitors can also find a serene Japanese garden with a pond and traditional tea house. Also, the nearby city of Katsuyama is famous as one of Japan’s top centers of dinosaur research. The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum is a top attraction here, offering fun for the whole family.


The Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum offers captivating displays on the prefecture’s history of dinosaur excavation.

In autumn, a flower park just outside Fukui City boasts a whopping 100 million cosmos flowers that bloom and form an expansive landscape of gorgeous pink. This is a wonderful outdoor location to explore and take in Fukui’s natural beauty.


The annual cosmos bloom near Fukui City is a wonderful autumn event to catch.

Echizen-Takefu Station: A brand-new shinkansen stop in traditional Fukui

While the other five stations on this list are all being revamped and renovated to allow for bullet train access, Echizen-Takefu Station has been built brand new in the area to promote visitors coming to this historical region of Japan. Local residents are excited to welcome new visitors!


The Echizen-Takefu area is home to many traditional crafts, including the Washi (Japanese paper) making pictured here.

Echizen-Takefu is a hotbed of Japanese traditional artisanship, and visitors here will find endless ways to explore Japanese tradition, including villages centered around soba making, Japanese washi paper making, traditional blade making and blacksmithing, and more.

The Fukui coast near Echizen is also famous for having some of Japan’s best crab. Whether you’re an experienced foodie or just want to try some of the world’s best seafood, the Fukui coast won’t let you down.


It’s not Fukui without delectable crab!

Tsuruga Station: A historic port and charming old city

The final new stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension is Tsuruga Station. Located in southern Fukui on the border with Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, Tsuruga has been an important port city throughout history.


Seaside Tsuruga features lovely beaches and sweeping views.

Today, the seaside location means Tsuruga is an excellent place to enjoy seafood, as well as gorgeous beaches and a nearby chain of five seaside saltwater lakes that offer pleasure boat cruises. An indoor kid’s park near Tsuruga Station is also a great place to let young ones work off some energy after traveling.

Connecting your Hokuriku Shinkansen journey to other areas via special rail passes

In closing, visitors to the Hokuriku area will certainly benefit from taking advantage of special JR rail passes in conjunction with their trip on the new shinkansen route.

Visitors wanting to expand a Kansai area itinerary to the Hokuriku region may be interested in the Hokuriku Arch Pass is also valid for seven days and provides unlimited rides from both Tokyo and Osaka to the Hokuriku region. Alternatively, the Kansai-Hokuriku Area Pass allows for seven days of unlimited train rides from Kansai to Toyama, Ishikawa and Fukui prefectures.

Once the Hokuriku Shinkansen extension opens to include Komatsu, Kaga Onsen, Awara Onsen, Fukui, Echizen-Takefu and Tsuruga stations, we hope you’ll take advantage of these rail passes to explore the grandeur of relatively unexplored and culturally rich Hokuriku!



Yamashiro Onsen


Yamanaka Onsen


Fukui City



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