How to access to Shirakawago from Takayama, Kanazawa, Takaoka and Toyama.

Very popular scene of Shirakawago from Tenshukaku view point
Very popular scene of Shirakawago from Tenshukaku view point

Shirakawago is known as UNESCO World heritage site and it is very very popular destination among oversea tourist in these days. You cannot access to this village by any train services. But there are many bus routes available from many cities around Shirakawago, such as Takayama, Kanazawa and some more.

In this post, I would like to share the information about access to Shirakawago, basic information of this village and some deals to cover the trip to Shirakawago.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Access to Shirakawago from Takayama, Kanazawa, Takaoka and Toyama

There are several gate cities to get Shirakawago. Please see the maps below:

Click to view large
Click to view large


View Shirakawa-go in a larger map

Shirakawago bus stop is located other side of river from the village. All bus services that come to Shirakawago stop at this bus stop.

Overview of bus stop in Shirakawago. This photo was taken at the foot of the bridge to the village.
Overview of bus stop in Shirakawago. This photo was taken at the foot of the bridge to the village.

There are some shops and restaurants in the heritage houses around bus parking. The buildings in the photo below are same buildings that are in the photo of bus stop above.

2016 winter Japan trip 671

Shirakawago information center is located just beside bus stop.

Shirakawago information center
Shirakawago information center

This building is not in the photo of bus parking above. It is right side of the parking. It is very closed to the parking and you cannot miss it.

Information center window
Information center window

There are some lockers in the information center building. The staff at the window can hold the baggage at same rate of locker in case of full. The rate is 300 to 800 yen. It depends on the size. Of course you can get the map of the village and the updated information at this window.

Next let me show you these bus lines one by one.

Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa route

Nohi bus has the biggest network in this area.
Nohi bus has the biggest network in this area.

This is a primary route to access to Shirakawago. Nohi Bus (濃飛バス) has many trips between Takayama and Shirakawago. It connects these places in 50 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes. This bus company has also many trips from Kanazawa too. The trip time between Kanazawa and Shirakawago is 1 hour 25 minutes Some of the trips run as “Express Service” between Takayama and Kanazawa via Shirakawago. Please see the timetable and the rate at Nohi Bus official site in the link below.

Nohi Bus official site

Luggage space of Nohi bus
Luggage space of Nohi bus
Interior of Nohi bus motorcoach. It does not equip a bathroom.
Interior of Nohi bus motorcoach. It does not equip a bathroom.

At Takayama, Takayama bus terminal is just step away from Takayama station.

Takayama station (left / white building) and Nohi bus Takayama Bust Terminal (right / Brown and green sign)
Takayama station (left / white building) and Nohi bus Takayama Bust Terminal (right / Brown and green sign)

At Kanazawa, you can take Nohi bus from bus stop #2 in east side of the station.

Nohi Bus ticket center is located at the ground level of this building. It is just in front of bus bay #2 at Kanazawa station east side.
Nohi Bus ticket center is located at the ground level of this building. It is just in front of bus bay #2 at Kanazawa station east side.

If you need the access information of Kanazawa or Takayama, please refer the links below:

How to access to Kanazawa and Toyama from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya and Niigata.
How to access to Takayama by trains and buses.

Takaoka – Shin-Takaoka – Johana – Ainokura – Suganuma – Shirakawago route

Exterior of Kaetsuno Bus
Exterior of Kaetsuno Bus

This route is operated by Kaetsuno Bus. And this lines is called “Sekai-Isan Bus” that means World Heritage Bus. Because this bus connects not only Shirakawago but also Ainokura and Suganuma. These two village are much smaller than Shirakawago. But many travelers prefer to visit these village because it is much quieter than Shirakawago and these places are listed on World Heritage too. In these days, Shirakawago has been very popular. Some of travelers are tired of this busy village. If you want to visit Ainokura or Suganuma, this bus is your choice anyway.

Suganuma village can be seen through the window when  you are on Sekai-Isan bus.
Suganuma village can be seen through the window when you are on Sekai-Isan bus.

You can catch this bus at several points, Takaoka, Shin-Takaoka and Johana. Takaoka and Shin-Takaoka are located between Toyama and Kanazawa. Especially if you stay in Toyama or this route is most convenient route to get Shirakawago.

From Takaoka to Johana, JR Johana line runs on same route as this bus. If you have rail pass, such as JR Pass, you can take Johana line and save your cost. But actually it is only 100 yen difference between Takaoka or Shin-Takaoka departure and Johana departure. If you want to take train, you can change at Johana station.

JR Johana station is very small. Bus stop is just in front of the station.
JR Johana station is very small. Bus stop is just in front of the station.

Kaetsuno Bus has website in Japanese only.

Kaetsuno Bus Sekai-Isan Bus information (Japanese)

But Japan Guide provides the timetable and the fare information in English. Please see the link below to get the detailed information.

Japan Guide Sekai-Isan Bus information (English)

Otherwise you can get on the bus at Takaoka or Shin-Takaoka. Shin-Takaoka is Hokuriku Shinkansen station. Takaoka can be accessed by Ainokaze Toyama Railway or Johana line only. Probably Shin-Takaoka is more convenient for most travelers.

Shin-Takaoka station bus stops
Shin-Takaoka station bus stops

If you take a bus at Takaoka station, bus depart from bus bay #7 at north side of Takaoka station. If you take a bus at Shin-Takaoka station, bus leave from bus bay #4 at south side of the station.

Kaetsuno bus use same type motorcoach as Nohi bus.

Interior of Kaetsuno Bus
Interior of Kaetsuno Bus

It does not equip a washroom.

Takayama – Shirakawago – Toyama route

Nohi bus also operates bus service on this route. But the number of trips to Toyama is fewer than trip to Kanazawa . Please refer Nohi bus official site and find the timetable.

The fleet and interior of motorcoach is same as the bus of Kanazawa – Takayama route. The bus depart from bus bay #1 at Toyama station south side.

Toyama station south side
Toyama station south side

Suggested deals to visit Shirakawago

There are several deals available.

Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass

This deal includes JR train from Kansai airport to Nagoya via Osaka, Kyoto, Fukui, Kanazawa, Toyama, Takayama and Gifu. You can make trains trips as many as you want in 5 days valid period. It also includes Nohi Bus Kanazawa-Takayama line and Kaetsuno Bus Sekai-Isan Bus. Please see the link below to find the detailed information of this deal.

Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass

Takaoka – Shirakawago Katamichi Free Kippu (one way deal from Takaoka to Shirakawago)

This is one way deal of Kaetsuno Bus Sekai-Isan Bus. It includes only one way trip from Takaoka to Shirakawago. But you can make stopover on the way to Shirakawago, such as Ainokura and Suganuma. You cannot go back and this deal is not available from Shirakawago to Takaoka. It is sold at 2000 yen and it is valid for 2 days. If you take a bus from Takaoka, you can purchase it at the window near bus stop. If you take a bus from Shin-Takaoka, you can purchase it from the driver.

Access to Shirakawago village from bus stop

You have to pass “Deaibashi” bridge from the bus parking to the village area.

Deaibashi bridge from the bus parking side
Deaibashi bridge from the bus parking side
Deaibashi from the village side
Deaibashi from the village side

Once you pass the bridge, it is village area. You may walk and enjoy the scenery.

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In Shirakawago, the scenery from the viewpoint is very popular. You can find the photo at the top of this article. This viewpoint is called Tenshukaku viewpoint. If you visit Shirakawago from late spring to autumn season, you can hike up if you want. But in winter season, road is closed. Shuttle bus runs in all season between village area and the viewpoint.

Shuttle bus to viewpoint
Shuttle bus to viewpoint
Trailhead to the viewpoint. The sign says it is closed due to snow.
Trailhead to the viewpoint. The sign says it is closed due to snow.

If you hike up, it takes 20 to 30 minutes. If you ride the bus, the fare is 200 yen one way. Shuttle bus stop in the village is sometimes changed. Please make sure where it is at the information center.

Reservation

Reservation is required to take most of Nohi bus routes. But at this point, there is no online booking available. You have to make a call at 0577-32-1688 to make a reservation. They speak English. If the seat is available, you can take a bus without booking. But Shirakawago is very popular in these days. It is not recommended to take a bus without reservation.

Kaetsuno Bus does not accept any advanced booking. The seat is first come first serve basis. This is another reason why you should take this bus from Takaoka or Shin-Takaoka, not from Johana.

My trip experience

I have visited Shirakawago in February, 2016. I took a bus from Johana to Shirakawago and Shirakawago to Takayama. The bus was almost full when I got on Sekai-Isan Bus at Johana. There were a few empty seats on Nohi Bus from Shirakawago to Takaoka too. Please see the link below to find my trip report. It may give you some idea to plan your trip to Shirakawago.

Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 6, Takaoka to Shirakawago via Himi line, Johana line and Shirakawago

183 thoughts on “How to access to Shirakawago from Takayama, Kanazawa, Takaoka and Toyama.”

  1. Dear Takeshi-san,

    I will be visiting Kanazawa in October this year, we plan to include visiting the village in Shirakawa in our itinerary. Is it possible to visit the village for just a day tour? And also, what bus should we take from Kanazawa?

    Thank you in advance.

    Sincerely,

    Eli

  2. Hi Takeshi-san,
    I hope you are not bored with my question, I have plan to go to shirakawago by bus from takayama. My plan is Takayama-Shirakawago and Shirakawago-Kanazawa to take train to osaka. I just want to ask is the bus fare using one way fare or by longest distance because I check in nouhi bus website the fare from takayama to shirakawago or kanazawa is same.

    Regards,
    Afif h

    1. Hi Afif h san,

      Sorry but I don’t understand what you mean.
      Takayama ~ Shirakawago 2,470
      Takayama ~ Kanazawa 3,390
      Shirakawago ~ Kanazawa 1,850

      If you go to Kanazawa from Takayama directly, you will pay 3390 yen. If you drop by Shirakawago on the way to Kanazawa from Takayama, you need to pay 2470 + 1850 yen.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi-san,
        Sorry if my question make you confused, when I check Nouhi bus website the price shown is only for the longest route which is Kanazawa thats why Im asking is the price is fix fare or not.
        Appreciate for your respond, after read your respond I’m understand about the fare…

        Regards

          1. Hi Takeshi-san,

            One little question, I will be staying in Takayama and going to Shirakawago in the morning and in the same day we will go to Osaka through Kanazawa, we bring 2 large luggage (28″) and one baby stroller, is it OK if we put our stuff in the bus compartment.

            Or better we keep our luggage in Takayama and travel going back from shirakawago to takayama and continue to Osaka.

            highly regards,
            Afif H

          2. Hi Afif san,

            You can store your luggage in luggage compartment of the bus and when you are in Shirakawago, you can store those at information center. Don’t go back to Takayama. You will waste more than 2 hours.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Good day Takeshi-San,

    I am planning to visit
    1. Shirakawago 2. Mt fuji area 3. Lake Kawaguchi 4. Kōtoku-in hake 5. Hakone Shrine

    My question is what is the best JR pass i can get? I will be staying in Tokyo from 2-10 March.

    Do you think I need to spend a day in some of the places? Or just day trip will do?

    Thank you so much.
    Aaron

    1. Hi Aaron san,

      All places can be done as day trip. Shirakawago is the longest trip from Tokyo.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/1-day/sample-itinerary-of-day-trip-to-kanazawa-and-shirakawago-from-tokyo.html

      You need JR pass 7 days but JR pass does not cover much in Hakone and Fuji area.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html

      But there is no better choice than JR pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    Thank you in advance for your kind advice. I am planning to visit japan on early April this year but still not sure if the planning is good and which pass to buy. Hope you can share some tips with me.

    Day 1: Arrival at osaka airport at 9am. Travel straight to kyoto.

    Day 2: Kyoto.

    Day 3: Leave kyoto in the afternoon/ evening to kanazawa (stay 1night).

    Day 4: travel from kanazawa to shirakawago and not sure to go takayama or toyama (stay 1 night)

    Day 5: takayama or toyama (stay another 1 night or not stay but to travel to tokyo in the evening).

    Day 6 – Day 8 : Tokyo

    Day 9: deciding btw Hakone or laka kawaguchi for Mt Fuji view and travel back to osaka (1night in osaka)

    Day 10 – Day 12 : Osaka, flight at 11am from osaka airport

    Would you recommend passes needed for this trip? I’m thinking of Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass then for the first 5days but not sure what pass to use later.

    Or should i buy JR 7days pass from day 3 upon leaving kyoto?

    I have hard time deciding between (1) takayama or toyama and (2)hakone or lake kawaguchi. I am also not sure if i should shorten 1 day of tokyo and leave that day for osaka.

    Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you.

    Regards,
    Shirley

  5. Hi Takeshi,
    My husband and I are planning to travel to Japan in end of March for 9 days and have drafted an itinerary but still not confident to decide which passes suitable with the itinerary.

    Day 1: Arrive in Osaka at 9.30am. Stay near Namba Station. Visit Osaka Castle, Kema Sakuranomiya Park, Shinsekai, Shinsaibashi, Dotonbori.
    Day 2: Day trip to Nara (Nara Park) and Kobe (Harborland, Sorakuen Garden), back to Osaka.
    Day 3: To Kyoto. Stay near Fushimi Inari. Visit Ginkakuji, Philoshopers Path, Higashiyama district, Yasaka Shrine, Gion district.
    Day 4: Still in Kyoto. Visit Nishimi Market, Kinkakuji, Arashiyama.
    Day 5: To Kanazawa. Stay near Kanazawa Station. Explore Kanazawa.
    Day 6: To Shirakawago, drop the luggage at the lockers (Can I do that?), explore Shirakawago, take the luggage and go to Takayama, spend 3 hours there and head to Tokyo. (I hope the station in Takayama has lockers).
    Day 7: In Tokyo. Stay in Shinjuku area. Visit Tsukiji Fish Market, Ueno Park, Shibuya, Shinjuku.
    Day 8: Day trip to Mount Fuji area. Visit Chureito Pagoda, Kawaguchi Lake, Mt. KachiKachi Ropeway, back to Tokyo.
    Day 9: in Tokyo. Visit Odaiba, Asakusa. Go to airport at 20.00 to catch a 23.45-flight.

    The questions are:
    1. What suitable passes needed for this trip? I’m thinking of these passes (please correct them):
    Kansai Thru Pass 3Day for Osaka-Nara-Kobe-Kyoto (but I’ll be spending 4 days);
    Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass for Kanazawa-Shirakawago-Takayama;
    Fuji Hakone Pass for Mount Fuji area;
    And for Tokyo, it’s still blur 
    2. For Day 5 and 6, I have option B which is:
    Day 5: To Kanazawa, stay near Kanazawa Station, explore Kanazawa, visit Takayama for 3 hours then back to Kanazawa.
    Day 6: To Shirakawago, drop luggage, explore Shirakawago, take luggage, leave for Tokyo.
    Which one do you think is more convenient, option A (original plan) or B?

    Looking forward to your suggestion and thank you in advance.

    Cheers,
    Happy

    1. Hi Happy,

      1. You have picked the correct deals until you get Tokyo. For day 1, you can use Yokoso Osaka ticket and use Kansai thru pass for next 3 days.
      http://www.howto-osaka.com/en/ticket/ticket/yokoso.html

      Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass covers until you get Nagoya. You have to add single fare for Nagoya to Tokyo. If you take Shinkansen, it costs around 11,000 yen.

      Or, you can take direct express bus from Takayama to Tokyo. This is not covered by Takayama Hokuriku Area pass but it’s cheaper than Shinkansen fare and it’s direct. Reservation is required to take this bus. Please see the link below:
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/shinjuku.pdf

      Fuji Hakone pass is too much for visiting Lake Kawaguchi area only. It’s designed for both Hakone and Fuji. Just take express bus to Lake Kawaguchi and pay single fare for taking train to get Chureito. It’s a few hundred yen.
      http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/highway/detail/id/1

      Tokyo subway pass is recommended for sightseeing in Tokyo. It covers most part of Tokyo.
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel/index.html
      http://jprail.com/destinations/kanto-area/tokyo-kanto-area/guide-to-take-trains-in-tokyo-how-to-choose-the-best-deal-and-the-best-route-by-train-to-get-the-major-spots.html

      Plan B is not recommended. You will waste many hours.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Good day Takeshi san,

    We were planning to buy JR Hokuriku Area Pass. Does this have the same restrictions as JR Pass?
    1. Multiple entry visa (Include Temporary Visitor Visa Multiple Entry status)
    2. Long term visas which allow to stay in Japan more than 90 days
    3. Student visa
    4. Permanent residency visa
    5. Any other visas which are not temporary visitor single entry visa for sightseeing
    I got these from this site: http://www.jrpass.com/japan-rail-pass-eligibility
    Actually, I have a multiple-entry visa while my younger sister is currently an exchange student for 6 months (she has visa for application with Certificate of Eligibility Issued in Japan). Are we eligible for this pass JR Hokuriku Area Pass?

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