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.
- 1 Access to Shirakawago from Takayama, Kanazawa, Takaoka and Toyama
- 2 Suggested deals to visit Shirakawago
- 3 Access to Shirakawago village from bus stop
- 4 Reservation
- 5 My trip experience
Access to Shirakawago from Takayama, Kanazawa, Takaoka and Toyama
There are several gate cities to get Shirakawago. Please see the maps below:
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.
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.
Shirakawago information center is located just beside bus stop.
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.
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
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.
At Takayama, Takayama bus terminal is just step away from Takayama station.
At Kanazawa, you can take Nohi bus from bus stop #2 in east side of the station.
If you need the access information of Kanazawa or Takayama, please refer the links below:
Takaoka – Shin-Takaoka – Johana – Ainokura – Suganuma – Shirakawago route
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.
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.
Kaetsuno Bus has website in Japanese only.
But Japan Guide provides the timetable and the fare information in English. Please see the link below to get the detailed information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once you pass the bridge, it is village area. You may walk and enjoy the scenery.
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.
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 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.