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

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.

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.

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

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.

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
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)

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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 from the village side

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.

Shuttle bus to viewpoint
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. Chee says:

    Hi, 4 of us will travel from nagoya station to shirakawago on 11th February 2018 morning and continue to toyama station in the evening. Do I need to advance booking the bus ticket – from nagoya until toyama? Will it clouded 1 day before illumination light?

  2. Farah says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I’m going to travel from Tokyo to Takayama (check in at a villa) and to Shirakawa go to witness the Illumination on end of January 2018. I heard that it is a popular event and requires reservation for bus tickets. I’ve tried searching on the web for the bus that can take from takayama to shirakawago for end of January and can depart from shirakawago later at night due to the night event. But I can’t find any. Can you please advise?

    Thank you!

  3. Daphny says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    From the article you write, I saw that the Nohi bus will not be operate on Weekend and from 29 Dec to 3 Jan? How if I need to go Shirakawago on Dec 29? Any bus straight away go Shirakawago from Kanazawa?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Daphny,

      You misunderstand the timetable.
      Only a few bus services will not be operated in that period. It’s shown in diamond mark (◆). You can get Shirakawago from Kanazawa in all season.


      Takeshi /

      • Daphny says:

        Hi Takeshi,
        Meaning that I still can go Shirakawago by using Nohi bus from Kanazawa on Weekend or even 29 Dec, just selected time don’t have, Correct?
        and If I use the Takayama Hokuriku Pass, will it including in the fare for nohi bus to Shiwakarago? and I only can get the pass when I reach Japan, how can I call Nohi bus for seat booking 1 month before I go and izit I need to pay straight away when I call for reservation or I pay when I go to take the ticket?

        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / says:

          Hi Daphny,

          That’s right. It runs as usual.
          You can make a call to Nohi bus and tell them you will use Takayama Hokuriku area pass. They may ask you about credit card info but it’s just deposit. They don’t charge it as long as you pick up your ticket by Takayama Hokuriku area pass. Anyway just make a call and follow their instruction.


          Takeshi /

  4. I will be visiting Toyama by cruise in October this year and would like to visit Ogimachi Village. Can you tell me how can I go to Ogimachi from Toyama cruise terminal

  5. Eliza says:

    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.



  6. kaisan86
    Afif h says:

    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.

    Afif h

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      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.


      Takeshi /

      • kaisan86
        Afif h says:

        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…


        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / says:

          No worries, Afif h san.


          Takeshi /

          • 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

            • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
              Takeshi / says:

              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.


              Takeshi /

  7. heysuperhap
    Aaron says:

    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.

  8. Shirley says:

    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.


  9. 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.


  10. Janine says:

    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:
    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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