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

Chubu Area
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.

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

Shirakawago bus stop

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 varied by the size from 300 to 800 yen. Of course you can get the map of the village and the updated information at this window.

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.

Takayama bus terminal

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)

Kanazawa bus stop

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:

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 all places in this World Heritage site, such as Shirakawago, Ainokura and Suganuma. Ainokura and Suganuma are much smaller than Shirakawago. But many travelers prefer to visit these village because it is much quieter than Shirakawago. 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.

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 website gives you the information in some language but it is the machine translation system.

Kaetsuno Bus Sekai-Isan Bus information 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 the 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.

Nohi Bus official site

The fleet and the 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.

Shoryudo Bus Pass

This bus pass covers Shirakawago, Takayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Gifu and Nagoya. If you start traveling from Nagoya, this bus pass may suit your trip plan.

Shoryudo Bus Pass official site

Kaetsuno Bus deals

Kaetsuno Bus sells several kinds of the deal, such as one way ticket from Takaoka to Shirakawago, one day unlimited ride. Please refer Kaetsuno Bus official site.

Kaetsuno Bus Sekai-Isan Bus information

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.


The reservation is required to take most of Nohi bus routes. The online booking is available if you use a regular fare ticket. If you use Takayama Hokuriku Area Pass, 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.

I hope this post gives you lots of idea to build your trip plan.


  1. MOONCHOO says:


    I’ve made plans for both Shirakawago and Gokayama via Takayama stn on 14/2/2015 lighting festival. Can you please advise on how to do it?

    Osaka (depart from) > Takayama (arrive) > Gokayama (leave luggage for nite stay) > Shirakawa-go (lighting event) > Gokayama (stay) > Takayama > Osaka (return)

    1. Must we buy the Nohi Bus tickets in advance? (A week before or months before)
    2. Is the Nohi bus tickets valid for whole day for trips to and fro?
    3. If we can’t get the Nohi Bus, can we take the Kaetsuno bus instead?

    Tqs in advance!

    • Hi MOONCHOO,

      1. Reservation is strongly recommended. It’s started on one month prior to the departure day.
      2. Basically you will book your bus. That means your ticket is valid for the bus that you will book. Otherwise you can purchase a ticket when you take a bus. But it’s too risky. You will not be able to take a bus. Light-up season is very busy in Shirakawago.
      3. Kaetsuno bus does not go to Takayama but Takaoka. It’s different direction and you can’t use it.


      Takehsi / JP Rail

  2. Kam Jim says:

    Hi ,

    I am going to visit Kanazawa and Shirakawa-Go at beginning of Sept. May I know what is the most conenience way to get there from Osaka? Can you recommandate me any hotel to stay there?

    Thanks and looking forward to hear from you.


  3. Felice says:

    Hi There,

    Can i check what is the cheapest and easiest way to reach Shirakawago from Osaka? we are a group of 6 peoples with 3 elderly.

    As we are thinking to go Shira from Osaka then from Shira to Kyoto.

    From Oct 24 2014 – depart from Osaka

    Oct 24 – chck in onsen hotel (any recommended hotel)

    Oct 25 – go to Kyoto. (depends , maybe its good to stay one more night? bfore depart to Kyoto?)



  4. Fatah aziz says:

    Hi there. I need to travel from osaka to shirakawago next week. I really depends on my japan rail pass. Is it possible to use the only my japan rail pass to reach shirakawago? How to reach shirakawago by using JRP?

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Fatah,

      Unfortunately you can’t get there by JR Pass. You can get either Kanazawa, Takayama and Johhana. I think Takayama is the most accessible and easiest to get Shirakawago by Nohi bus.
      I wrote about this bus service above. Please read the article above.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. Jenny says:

    How can I make a reservation with Gifu bus operator (Nagoya – Shirakawa-go)? I’ll first arrive in Nagoya for 1 night and then the next day, i’d like to take the bus directly to Shirakawa-go. Will I be in time to reserve for a seat on my day of arrival or if there’s an online system for reservation?


    • JPRail says:

      Hi Jenny,

      There is no way to book it online. The only way to book this bus is by phone.
      You will find a phone number at the bottom in the following link. This is English site. I think reservation can speak English:

      I’m not sure that you will be able to make it or not after you arrive. If you really really want to book in advance, call this number from your country. Unfortunately this is only way to do it.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  6. Amy says:

    My route from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-go in Feb 14-15 for lighted up festival. as you mentioned, it is very hard to get the guesthouse in Shirakawa-go for stay. But due to lighted up festival, we really wish to stay in Shirakawa-go guesthouse. Do you have any recommend or contact for us?

    Btw, i saw your advice, best route is from takayama – Shirakawa-go – Kanzawa, i might will change my route. But back to my question. We need a one or two night stay in Shirakawa-go Guesthouse. I don’t to share with other, and we got 2 pax here.

    many thnaks

    • JPRail says:

      Hi Amy,

      Unfortunately I have no idea about accommodation there. As I mentioned below, I can answer you about transportation. But this site does not provide any info about accommodation.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  7. Epi says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    We are going to Japan on June 26-July 16. We are 2 adults. Here’s our itinerary:

    June 26 – 28 – Tokyo
    June 29 – Day trip to Kamakura
    July 1 – Day trip to Nikko
    July 2 – Tokyo – Hakone
    July 3 – Hakone – Takayama
    July 4-5 – Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa
    July 6 – Kanazawa – Okayama
    July 7 – Okayama- Miyajima – Hiroshima
    July 8 – Hiroshima – Kyoto
    July 11 – Kyoto – Osaka
    July 13 – Osaka – Tokyo
    July 14 – Day trip to Yokohama
    July 15-16 – Tokyo

    Is JR pass for 21 days useful? or Just buy two 7 day JR pass, for use from June 26 to July 1, then from July 10 to July 16.

    Your advise would be much appreciated.


  8. June says:

    We are going to Japan on 25-30 April 2013, 2 person.
    Our itenerary are as follow :
    25 April : Haneda airport to Aomori
    28 April : Aomori to Tokyo
    29April : Tokyo to Takayama ( Shirakawa go) -Tokyo
    30 April : Tokyo to Haneda airport

    Would it cheaper if we use JR pass for 7 days ?

  9. Camille says:

    We are going to Japan on March 21-28, 2013. We are 2 adults and 1 6-year old child. Our itnerary are as follows:

    March 21 – Osaka to Kyoto

    March 23 – Kyoto to Kanazawa

    March 26- Kanazawa to Osaka

    Would it be cheaper if we use a JRPass? How much would this cost us?

    Thank you.

  10. Tak says:

    Another way is to take bus from Nagoya station to Shirakawagou. If I have JR pass, I prefer JR Wide View Hida to Takayama and bus from Takayama to Shirakawago. The view between JR Nagoya and Takayama is very good and the Takayama city is a good place to visit too. If you use Green pass, I recommend the front row behind drive’s seat where you can have an excellent front view.

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