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

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I’ve bought the JR National pass. Need your advise on the travelling. How do I travel from Yokohama to Shirakawago? and Shirakawago to Nagoya? Thanks

    1. Hi Cherry,

      As you read the post above, you can access to Shirakaawgo from Takayama. Takayama can be accessed from Nagoya by limited express Wide View Hida. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/tips-for-japan-rail-pass/how-to-access-to-takayama-by-trains-and-buses.html

      When you go to Takayama from Yokohama, you can take Shinkansen (bullet train) from Shin-Yokohama to Nagoya. And follow same route from Nagoya.

      These train trips to/from Takayama are covered by JR pass. But bus to Shirakawago is not covered.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi ,

    I have one question because I need to book the nohi bus timeslot. I’m staying the night in Ainokurachi this February and plan to get back to Kanazawa via shirakawago. The route I will take is ride Kaetsuno bus to Shirakawago and then switch to Nohi Bus to Kanazawa but they have only 15 minutes difference.

    Are the bus stops for those two in a different place or same place? Will I be able to catch them on time ?
    I have conflicting information from browsing other blogs and websites, hopefully you can clarify my doubt :).

  3. Hi Takeshi san,

    If we have a JR Central Pass, and we will travel from Kanazawa station to Shirakawago, is there a JR Bus, or do we pay extra?

    Thank you!

  4. Hi Takeshi,

    Thanks for your previous reply.
    I am interested in purchasing The Seishun 18 Kippu as I will be there during March and April, so that could be quite good to have. One question, considering it is ‘excluding Reserved Seats’, if I want to reserve a seat I will simply pay separately the Seat Fee?
    In that case Seishun 18 will only cover for the train fare?

    Thanks
    Emanuele

    1. Hi Emanuele,

      It covers only base fare. If you want to reserve your seat, you have to pay both base fare and reserved seat fee.
      And also, Seishun 18 kippu covers only local and rapid trains. You cannot take express trains. Most of those trains are commute trains and those do not have reserved seat anyway. You can use this ticket but you will spend many more minutes. When you go to Nakatsugawa (nearest station to Magome) from Kii-Katsuura, it take more than 7 hours and need to change trains three or four times.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi, Takeshi-san!

    We will be travelling to Japan in February & we are planning to follow this itinerary:

    Takayama -> Shirakawago -> Takayama (Old town)

    Can you please advise me on which pass is the most recommended/easiest and practical?

    Thank you

  6. Hello,
    I am planning to travel by train from KIIKATSUURA to go to MAGOME.
    From there Walk to NIGISO and take the train to MATSUMOTO.
    Then the bus to TAKAYAMA, SHIRAKAWA and KANAZAWA.

    Will all this be covered by the JPRail pass?

  7. Hello Takeshi san,
    Would like you suggest on this my plan? I plan to travel to Shirakawago on 28/Dec/16. I will stay overnight on 27/Dec/16 in Kanazawa then will go to take the Kaetsuno bus at Takaoka or Shin-Takaoka station in early morning on28/Dec/16 to Shirakawago. And afternoon the same day will come back from Shirakawago same route. The seats for 2 people will be available? Because both the Nohi bus and Hokutetsu bus seats are not available. I worry that will not have seats available at that time for my friend and me. Thanks for you advice//Dennapha

    1. Hi Dennapha san,

      It’s hard to say. When I took this bus in this past February, the bus was almost full. It was week day and not in peak period, but it was almost full.
      Kaetsuno bus does not take reservation, so that means first come first serve basis. This bus departs from Takaoka station. I recommend you to go to Takaoka station and wait for this bus. The bus may be full when the bus comes to Shin-Takaoka. I have heard that extra bus runs when bus is full but not 100% sure.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi Takeshi San,
    We will be travelling to Japan in January and our itinery is as follows:
    Nagoya -> Takayama -> Shirakawago -> Osaka (Namba).

    May I seek your advice on which pass is more economical for our travel and the easiest/economical route from Shirakawago to Osaka.
    Thank you

      1. Hi Takeshi san,

        Thank you for advice.
        We had purchased the Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass.
        We are interested to go for Shogawa River Cruise. Could you advise how to get there from Takayama and does the above pass cover the route to Shogawa River Cruise?

        Thanks
        Catherine

        1. Hi Catherine san,

          Actually I have never been there, so I don’t have much info.
          You have to get Takaoka station first. You can take bus to Shirakawago from Takayama and then bus to Takaoka from Shirakawago. These buses are covered by this pass. After that, you have to take another local bus to Shogawa. This is not covered. But I don’t have the timetable and fare table. I think it takes more than one hour from Takaoka.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshi-san!

    My family and I are traveling from Nagoya-Nara-Osaka-Kyoto-Kanazawa-Tokyo. I was thinking of stopping by the Gifu perfecture before going to Tokyo. Would purchasing the JR Pass in this case a good choice?

    Thank you!

      1. Thank you for your reply Takeshi san,

        Can we use the JR Pass when traveling from Kanazawa to Shirakawago or Takayama? As well as from Shirakawago or Takayama to Tokyo?

        1. Hi Jean san,

          All bus routes are not covered by JR pass. You have to pay extra. But if you take a train between Kanazawa and Takayama via Toyama, it’s covered. When you travel to Tokyo by train from Takayama, it’s covered too.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

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