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

Japan-Guide.com 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.

Reservation

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.

Comments

  1. Caroline says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Do you use Shirakawago Gokayama World Heritage Pass (3700 yen)? I’ve read that it cover unlimited bus use from Johana to Shirakawago and one way trip from/to Takayama. My question is can we use Nohi bus from Shirakawago to Takayama since Kaetsuno bus does not go to Takayama?
    We will be staying at Kyoto and want to go to Shirakawago and Takayama (day trip). Do you think it’s possible? We will use JR Pass so we prefer to stop at Johana station.
    Thank you so much in advance.

  2. Hi. Takeshi san.i d like to go to shirakawago village from Toyama.Pls give your suggestion to reach shirakawago (return/2ways).I departure from osaka 23 april 18 early morning will go to toyama and stay 1 night .before i ll go to alpine route the day after.
    While i stay in toyama i ve planning to go to shirakawago village.we are family of 3 persons.Pls give us some info about the route to shirakawago .thanks a lot.best rgds Ari

  3. Christie says:

    Hi Takeshi San,

    First of all I am super thankful for your post, it’s really kind of you to share all these information. I bought ticket to Japan on Jan from 26th – Feb 2nd, and this is my first time travelling to Japan. Can’t wait! I made a rough schedule as below :

    26 Jan : Land at Haneda airport, and straight to Osaka
    27 Jan : US Osaka (stay in Osaka)
    28 Jan : Kyoto
    29 Jan : Kyoto
    30 Jan : from Kyoto – Shirakawago
    31 Jan : Tokyo
    1 Feb : Disneyland (Tokyo)
    2 Feb : Flight back home from Haneda

    My must visit place are Universal studio Osaka, Disneyland & Shirakawago. It would be my first time seeing or touching snow, so I’m really excited. I don’t plane to rush to any place or etc, I plan to fill the rest of schedule with famous places I searched on the internet but not too tight. Could you please help advise me on my concern as below :
    1. Is my schedule possible? from one city to another?
    2. Since my flight two ways are from Haneda, JR Pass is a must correct? Is JR pass 7days enough to cover the whole trip? Is there another option for transportation besides JR pass?
    3. Is it possible to go back to Tokyo from Shirakawago? if yes, how? or I must go back to Kyoto first?
    4. With my schedule should I spend a night at Shirakawago or a day trip would be better option?
    5. Can you please advise some very famous place to visit in Osaka and Kyoto for first timer?
    6. I feel that I spend too much days at Kyoto, should I shorten the day and spend another day in Tokyo instead?

    I would really appreciate if you can give me advice on my concerns.

    Many thanks
    Christie

  4. Linda says:

    Hi Takeshi, below is my travel plan for 9 days,
    I’m not very sure for the tour from Day 6 to 8, is my travel plan smooth start from Day 6?
    I don’t like City Life, therefore Tokyo only I feel like want to visit Sensoji & Takeshita.
    From my travel plan, is it advisable to buy 7 Day Japan Rail Pass?

    Day 1 Monday (OSAKA)
    Arrive 9.40pm
    Overnight at Osaka

    Day 2 Tuesday (OSAKA)
    Kuromon Ichiba Market
    Osaka Castle Park
    Momofuku Instant Ramen Museum
    Dotonbori Shopping Street
    Overnight at Osaka

    Day 3
    Wednesday (OSAKA to NARA)
    Nara Park – Deer Park
    Todai-ji Temple
    Kasuga Taisha Shrine
    Sarusawa-ike Pond
    Kofuku-ji Temple
    Higashimuki Shopping Street
    Overnight at Nara

    Day 4 Thursday (NARA to KYOTO)
    SOUTHERN KYOTO
    Fushimi Inari Shrine
    Tofukuji
    Daigoji
    Toji Temple

    CENTRAL KYOTO
    Nishiki Market
    Pontocho
    Overnight at Kyoto

    Day 5 Friday (KYOTO)
    WESTERN KYOTO
    Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (Reach before 7am)
    Saihoji
    Katsura Imperial Villa
    Yoshiminedera Temple
    Daikaku-ji

    NORTHERN KYOTO
    Golden Pavilion
    Shugakuin Imperial Villa
    Ninnaji
    Overnight at Kyoto

    Day 6 Saturday (Kyoto to Takayama)
    Shirakawago – Takayama
    Overnight at Takayama

    Day 7 Sunday (Takayama – Mt Fuji)
    Mount Fuji
    Gotemba Factory Outlet
    Overnight at Mt Fuji

    Day 8 Monday (NO IDEA HOW??)

    Day 9 Tuesday (TOKYO)
    Sensoji
    Takeshita / Harajuku Shopping Street
    Flight back at 11:45pm

  5. Daphny says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Here is my plan from kansai airport, kyoto, kanazawa, shirakawa, takayama, nagoya, osaka (Kobe, Nara). I might need some of your help to suggest which pass is more suitable for me because Japan offer quite a lot of pass and I bit confuse on it.

    Day 1 – Reach Kansai Airport – 9.40PM and straight to Kyoto ( I think I only can buy the bus ticket on the spot to Kyoto right? because I arrived in Kansai airport quite late at night.)
    Day 1 to Day 5 – Kyoto
    Day 5 – From Kyoto to Kanazawa (Visit Kanazawa town)
    Day 6 – From Kanazawa to Shirakawago (NOHI Bus) – Shirakawago to Takayama (NOHI Bus) will walk nearby the town area – Takayama to Nagoya JR Hida limited express train
    Day 7 – Nagoya ( 1 day Trip)
    Day 8 – From Nagoya to Osaka
    Day 8 to Day 12 – Osaka (In between might go Nara or Kobe)

    From Osaka – Shinsabashi, which train is most suitable to go airport if I have 4 big lugguages?

    Really appreciate for your help and Thank You 🙂

  6. Hi! I’m planning to visit Japan early next year. I want to see Shirakagawo and the other villages. What’s the best way to get there? Is it fr. Haneda or Osaka? Thanks.

  7. Hi Takeshi,

    Your article is really help for me. But I do still confused ! I will be coming to Japan next January 2018 and would like so much to visit Shirakawago. Please tell me what is the best itinerary for me. This what I got on my plan.
    22/1/2018 : Kyoto – Kanazawa/Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa/Takayama – Kyoto
    or 22/1/2018 : Kyoto – Kanazawa/Takayama – Shirakawago – Kanazawa/Takayama (stay overnight) then next day 23/1 back to Kyoto.
    By the way, I really interested on Shirakawago Illumination Festival. Tell me about it.

    Cheers,
    Hani
    Your reply will be much appreciated.

  8. Hi,

    Thank you for your awesome posts. I am planning a trip to Japan from the 3rd of Nov. Unfortunately, I have only 6 days. An I have to visit Hiroshima for historical reasons. Here’s a rushed up itinerary I have prepared:

    1) 03 Nov: Land at Haneda airport at 4pm. Take the express to Tokyo station. Take the shinkansen at 6:33 Hikari to Kyoto. Hostel is booked in Kyoto for the night.
    2) 04 Nov: Kyoto and Nara. Stay in Nara.
    3) 05 Nov: Nara – Shin Osaka – Hiroshima/Mijayami and back to Kyoto.
    4) 06 Nov: Kyoto Kanazawa – Shirakawa go – Kanazawa
    5) 07 Nov: Kanazawa – Alpine route – Tokyo. Night at Tokyo
    5) 08 Nov: Tokyo
    7) 09 Nov: Fly back to Singapore from Narita at 11:30am

    I needed your input for some of my questions and I am hopeful you will respond.

    1) I know that the itinerary looks hurried, but my question is that – Is it possible? (Hiroshima, I have to go)
    2) Should I forego Nara/Kyoto and head on to Hiroshima so that I can spend more time there on 04Nov?
    3) If I do that, then can I reach Kanazawa from Hiroshima and do shirakawa-go on 06 Nov with ease?
    4) Is JR pass worth it for my trip?

    In case you have other suggestions, or you want me to modify my itinerary in any way, please let me know. I can cancel and re-do hotel bookings.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of JPRail.com
      Takeshi / JPRail.com says:

      Hi Vaibhav,

      It is possible but as you think, it will be super tight. You will not have enough time to see Kyoto. If you remove Nara, it may be easier. In my opinion, Kyoto and Nara have very similar atmosphere. So if you focus on Kyoto only, you may be satisfied more.

      If you don’t care, you can cut Kyoto. But it’s too much to move from Hiroshima to Kanazawa. I don’t recommend it. Kyoto-Kanazawa-Shirakawago-Kanazawa is not very hard.

      JR pass is required. You need to exchange the pass at Haneda. So you may not get on 6:33 Hikari. But there are still many Hikari to Kyoto. You will be able to get Kyoto anyway.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Hi Takeshi

    Many thanks on your advices.

    Cheers

    Josephine

  10. Hi Takeshi

    I have planned to visit Japan from 30 Nov to 8 Dec 2017. No sure if 7 days JR Pass is suitable for me.

    I will arrive at Narita Airport at 7.35am and taking express train to Tokyo, follow by Hokuriku Shinkansen to Kanazawa. Then taking a bus to Shirakawago village and spend a night there.

    Leaving on the following day back to Tokyo and staying at Shinjuku area.

    For the rest of the trip, will plan to go to Hakone, Kamakura, Odawara, Yokohama, Kawasaki, Nikko, Kawzgoe, Kawaguchiko.

    Yet to finalize my list but do you have any advice for me as I am travelling alone on this trip.

    Many Thanks

    Josephine

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