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.

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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

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    We plan to visit Takayama, Kanazawa n Shirakawago from Osaka (arriving n departing city). Total of 3 nights (booked 1 night at Kanazawa n 2 night at Takayama currently).
    Is the Takayama-Hokuriku pass good for us? Are allow to use the Thunderbird train with this pass?

    Do you think it would be a better idea to stay all 3 nights at Kanazawa and make trips to Shirakawago?

    Appreciate your thoughts n advise

    1. Hi Chan Yew Chong,

      Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass is the best choice. It covers Thunderbird.
      I think you should keep this plan that is Kanazawa 1 night and Takayama 2 nights. You can drop by Shirakawago on the way between Takayama and Kanazawa.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    I am planning to travel from Tokyo to Hakone to Takayama and to Kanazawa and finally to Nara/Kyoto/Osaka in Nov 16. My itinerary is shown below:
    Day 1-2: Tokyo
    Day 3: Hakone
    Day 4-5: Takyama
    Day 6-8: Kanazawa
    Day 9-20: Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe.

    I would like your advice on the cheapest and and preferably efficient way to travel either by coach or train from Hakone to Takayama. I have checked via hyperdia that the most common way to travel is from Hakone-Yumato back to Odawara via the Hakone Torzan Railway, and from Nagoya to Takayama via the Shinkansen but the cost is around 14k Yen or more. Is there a cheaper alternative?

    I have not gotten any JR pass yet but i am considering the to get the Takayama Hokuriku Pass as i will be visiting Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa for 5 consecutive days and travelling to Nara/Kyoto/Osaka. Appreciate your help and advice on this, thanks!

    1. Hi Jason,

      The best deal is single fare ticket + seat fee for Shinkansen, Odawara-Nagoya (around 9,000 yen) and Takayama Hokuriku area pass. JR pass is not your choice. If you have one more big trip when you are in Osaka/Kyoto, JR Pass will suit. But this trip must be a long trip, such as day trip to Hiroshima.
      http://jprail.com/sample-itineraries/1-day/day-trip-to-hiroshima-and-miyajima-from-osakakyoto.html

      Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe do not work. These trips do not help to use JR pass. For these trips in Kansai area, Kansai thru pass and other passes are available.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/how-to-choose-discount-railway-ticket-and-pass-in-kansai-area.html

      Please think about using these deals.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi Takeshi, ,
    Just notice from hyperdia that kanzawa have 3 different statons and if from shinjuku to kanzawa wonder which station do I stop : kanzawa -bunko, kanzawa hakkei keikyu or kanzawa hakkei seaside before continuing to shirawagako? Thanks in advance .

    Regards,Amy

    1. Hi Amy,

      I recommend you to use Hokuriku Arch Pass + Hakone Free Pass. Even if you use JR Pass, you need to purchase Hakone Free Pass at Odawara. Hokuriku Arch Pass + Hakone Free Pass (from Shijuku) are better choice.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/tokyo-osaka-hokuriku-arch-pass-user-guide-clarify-valid-trains-coverage-area-and-compare-single-fare-and-pass.html
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/

      Kanazawa is “Kanazawa” station. Three stations that you mentioned, kanzawa -bunko, kanzawa hakkei keikyu or kanzawa hakkei seaside are not in Kanazawa. These are closed to Yokohama.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    My fiance and I will be visiting Hirayu, Takayama, Shirakawa-go and Toyama between the 3rd of November and the 5th of November. We are trying to figure out what is the best way to travel around by bus.

    Below is our intended itinerary.

    3 November – Depart from Matsumoto, arrive in Hirayu
    4 November – Depart Hirayu, arrive in Takayama
    5 November – Depart Takayama to Toyama, via Shirakawago (hope to stop over for a few hours)

    Is there a tourist pass you could recommend?

    If we purchase a ticket from Takayama to Toyama, are we allowed to get off the bus at Shirakawa-go for a couple of hours and hop back on to the next bus to continue our journey? Or do we need to purchase 2 separate tickets for this?

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Thank you and kind regards

    1. Hi Jo,

      There is no deals to cover your trip unfortunately. You have to purchase a ticket separately. You have to purchase a ticket separately for Takayama to Shirakawago and Shirakawago to Toyama. Stopover is not allowed by one ticket.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi,

    Here is my itinerary, i’m not sure the best route from tokyo to kyoto for covering Alpen Routes and Shirakawa Go. But do you think is enough if using 7 days JR Pass ?, Could you please advise.

    Day 1 – Tokyo
    Day 2 – Tokyo – Toyama
    Day 3 – Toyama – Alpen routes
    Day 4 – Toyama – Kanazawa
    Day 5 – Kanazawa – Shirakawa go
    Day 6 – Kanazawa – Kyoto
    Day 7 – Kyoto – Kayosan
    Day 8 – Kyoto – Miyajima
    Day 9 – Kyoto/osaka
    Day 10 – Kyoto
    Day 11 – Kyoto – Hakone
    Day 12 – Hakone/Mt.Fuji – Tokyo
    Day 13 – Tokyo

    Thank you

  6. Hello Takeshi,

    What travel pass do you recommend from Takayama to Tokyo? There are 4 of us travelling and will be leaving for Tokyo on Dec 30 2016. Thanks a lot

    1. Hi Dewi,

      Unfortunately there is no deals to cover this segment. Only regular ticket is your choice.
      December 30th is expected to be the busiest day in the year. I recommend you to book your train ticket right after you arrive in Japan. You can book a ticket at any major JR stations in advance. Unfortunately there is no online reservation available. Try to book after you arrive in Japan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi takeshi-san, i’m going to visit japan on 25dec to 1jan.. my route is osaka-kyoto-tokyo. I want to visit shirakawago from kyoto-shirakawago-tokyo. But i found out that nohi bus doesnt operate on 29dec to 3jan. So is there any other option how can i go to shirakawago from takayama or kanazawa? Or any other route suggestion? I’m planning to shirakawago from 30-31dec.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Ivana san,

      The bus between Kanazawa, Shirakawago and Takayama will run in all season. Just one trip will be canceled in New Years season. Please see the timetable in the link carefully. It will be only one round trip suspended.
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/shirakawago.pdf

      December 30 will be the busiest season in the year. You will find the phone number and online reservation site address in the timetable. I strongly recommend you to book in advance. You can book one month prior to departure date. So that is November 30 to Shirakawago. Please try to book asap. It’s not surprised if it’s booked out right after ticket is on sale.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi Takeshi,
    We are planning to go Shirakawago from Takayama by using Nori Bus. Can we change to Kaetsuno bus to visit Ainokura and Suganuma and return back to Shirakawago? After that we will change to Nori bus again to reach Kanazawa? For your information, we are using Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass.

    We plan to visit Shirakawago on 27/11/16 which is Sunday, but from the above information, Nori bus is not operated during weekend. So is there another other alternative way to reach Shirakawago?

    Thank you.

  9. Hi, Takeshi-san.

    I am planning to go to Shirakawa-go to Gokayama (Suganuma and Ainokuraguchi) on November 20, 2016 which is Sunday via Takaoka. During this trip, I will be using the JR Pass (Kansai-Hokuriku Pass or I call as KHP) and will be staying in Takaoka. Since Gokayama-Shirakawa-go trip on the said date is not included in KHP, I will still use the said pass from Takaoka to Johana taking the first or second train from Takaoka to Johana to get on the 7:00 am bus ride from Johana to Shirakawa-go. However, as you mentioned the bus from Takaoka in Johana you rode is almost full. Will the driver let you stand in the middle of the bus say all the seats up to aisle have already been seated? By the way, the 7:00 am bus to Shirakawa-go will originate at Johana station.

    Further, do you have any known information if one can really buy Gokayama and Shirakawa-go 2-day Pass inside the bus or with bus driver most specially in Johana? Purchasing them with the bus driver is timewise most feasible for me. My thought is that riding the bus from Takaoka will render KHP as unused for the day. I thought as well, worst case, that 7:00 am opening of Kaetsuno Bus Ticket Office just to purchase the 2-day Pass will let me ride on the second bus trip (first bus trip from Takaoka) at 8:00 am which would arrive at 10 am in Shirakawa-go considering the trip is weekend that is pretty sure crowded. I found an online brochure regarding purchase inside the bus and would like to verify if this is true http://foreign.info-toyama.com/_img/_news/_file/8/00000128-101.pdf.

    I hope anyone here reading your blog who have taken this trip via Takaoka or Johana can answer my concerns as well. Thanks.

    1. Hi Jini san,

      As you mentioned, 7:00 am departure bus is from Johana. So you don’t need to worry about the seat. If you take next bus at Johana and the seat is full, you cannot take the bus. You have to wait for next one. When I took the bus at Johana, there were another two passengers waiting for the bus. Most of passengers board on the bus at Takaoka or Shin-Takaoka. Johana route is not very popular among the tourist and in my opinion, Kaetsuno bus does not care about passenger from Joahana so much. It’s low demand.

      I’m not 100% sure but I think you can purchase a pass from driver. I recommend you to contact to Kaetsuno bus after you arrive in Japan.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  10. Hi takeshi, my mom, sis and i plan to go to japan for 7 days 6 nights trip. Below are our itinery. Can you please advise about it. Our arrival and departure both are kansai airport.
    – Osaka 3 nights (attending conference)
    – Shirakawago 1 night
    – Mount Fuji 1 night
    – Osaka 1 night
    I have problem in planning the route from shirakawago to mount fuji or vise versa. Do i need to go back to osaka to go to mount fuji?

    1. Hi Tina,

      Which area in Fuji are you going to?
      If you go to Hakone, go to Nagoya and take Shinkansen to Odawara. If you Lake Kawaguchi area, there is direct bus from Takayama to Lake Kawaguchi.
      http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/highway/detail/id/38

      So make sure which area you go. And then you can consider which deal you use. The direct bus above is very convenient. But it’s not covered by any deals. At this point, we cannot discuss about the deals.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi takeshi, we decided to go to lake kawaguchi and stay 1 night. What travel pass u would recommend? Our trip is in end of august this year.
        Day 1 to 2: Osaka 2 nights
        Day 3: kanazawa 1 night
        Day 4: Shirakawago 1 night
        Day 5: lake kawaguchi 1 night
        Day 6: Osaka 1 night or overnight train to reach kansai airport on d7 morning.
        Do u recommend to use jp rail pass + osaka 2 days pass or takayama hokuriku area travel pass?
        Thank you

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