Staying in the area over Golden Week? If you want to use your three and four-day weekends to explore the area without spending a lot on train fare, JR West has you covered. You may have seen the Hokuriku O-dekake Pass (北陸お出かけパス）advertized before:
Basically, this is a day-long all-you-can-ride pass for anywhere within the area listed on the map. The zone goes as far north as Tanihama (谷浜）in Niigata Prefecture, and as far south as Nagahama, Fukui on the Hokuriku Line and Aonogou, Fukui on the Obama Line. (Yes, you can visit the city of Obama.) The zone also includes the Noto Line as far as Wakura Onsen. If you haven’t visited Echizen, the Noto, or Toyama Prefecture yet, this is a cheap way to get there and back in a day. Fare from Kanazawa to Aonogou on local trains is 3,570 yen one way, so if you want to go far north or south, this pass can pay for itself at least three times over.
So, how does it work? The pass costs 2,000 yen. It can ONLY be used for local trains (no Limited Express trains like the Thunderbird, Shirasagi, or Hokuetsu). It can also ONLY be used on Saturdays, Sundays, or national holidays. You can get on and off as many times as you would like. The biggest catch perhaps is that it must be purchased AT LEAST three days in advance. You can purchase it as early as one month before the day you want to use it, but they are quite strict about the three days. Passes are definitely available at the larger JR stations like Kanazawa and Komatsu, and must be ordered at the counter. Smaller stations may or may not have them. The offer ends September 30th of this year, but it will probably be back.
Intrigued, but not sure which direction to go? The southern part of Fukui might be familiar to most Ishikawa JETs, but only from out the window of an Osaka or Nagoya-bound train. The Echizen area of Fukui (normally 1,600+ each way from Kanazawa) is full of temples, shrines, and ruins to explore.
For those of you living in Southern Ishikawa, this is a cheap way to explore the lower Noto, as tickets from Komatsu to Wakura Onsen usually run about 1,890 yen each way. Similarly, folks in the Noto can get to places like Natadera and Yunokuni no Mori in Kaga.
Your Hokuriku staycation can still be awesome and within budget–just make sure to get your Hokuriku O-dekake Pass at least three days in advance!