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

Chubu Area
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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.

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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. Rigrl says:

    Hi !

    Where can I purchase advance roundtrip bus tickets takayama to shirakawa go online for February 4? Thanks so much.

  2. Hi Takeshi .some fa basic info there . We’re travelling next October from Kyoto to Ainokura to stay in a beautiful ryokan then onto Tokyo the next day . Can you suggest a route ? We’ll have the JR 7 day pass activated on the day we leave Kyoto. Thank you so much in advance as this seems like the most complicated of my plans so far .
    Chantelle

  3. Jo says:

    Hi Takeshi! Thanks for all the information.

    I am planning to go to Shiragawa from Tokyo. Which route do you think is the best in terms of convenience and perhaps also beautiful spots to stay for two nights? Do you suggest Kanazawa, Takayama or Toyama?

    Also which city has the most convenient way to go to Mt Fuji without needing to stop in Tokyo?

    Thanks a lot!

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

      Hi Jo,

      Both Takayama and Kanazawa are very nice. Toyama is nice city but other two cities are more attractive.

      It’s hard to say which one is better, Kanazawa or Takayama. If you like small town, Takayama is better. Kanazawa is much bigger city than Takayama but there are lots of hotels and probably easier to fine affordable deal.

      Regarding food, Takayama has nice beef which is “Hida Beef”. Kanazawa has nice seafood. So you can choose from Takayama or Kanazawa.

      For the access, you can get Kanazawa from Tokyo directly by Hokuriku Shinkansen. You have to change trains at least once if you go to Takayama.

      Either cities will not disappoint you.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Alex says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I plan to do 1 day trip on dec 11 or 12to shirakawago from tokyo and go back to tokyo the same day.
    Can I buy the bus ticket to shirakawago from kanazawa on the same day without reservation?
    If I have to make a reservation, how many days in advance I have to do that?
    Thanks

  5. Hello Takeshi,

    We are planning to go on a day trip to Takayama and Shirakawago this December. I’m a bit confused with the best mode of transportation. Can you offer any suggestions? We will be coming from Nagoya.

    Regards,
    Johnny

  6. lolipedofin
    Toby says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I planned to stay for 3 days at Gifu with the plan as follow:

    Day 1: Hiroshima -(Shinkansen)- Gujo Hachiman -(Nohi Bus 10pm)- Takayama.

    Day 2: Takayama & Hida – Bus to Shirakawago at evening.

    Day 3: Shirakawago & Gokayama – Bus to Johana, train to Kyoto via Shin-Takaoka & Kanazawa.

    Is this plan feasible? If I am doing this, I really need the Shirakawago Gokayama World Heritage Pass (3700 yen), but somehow I only see this pass mentioned at Japan-Guide and nowhere else, is this pass really being sold? And does it really allow free unlimited trips from between shirakawago and johana?

    Thanks.

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

      Hi Toby,

      Your trip plan is feasible. I think you can purchase Shirakawago Gokayama to Takaoka one way free kippu. (白川郷・五箇山⇒高岡 片道フリーきっぷ)
      This is sold at Shirakawago bus center. The price is 2000 yen for 2 days. This is only one way ticket but you can hop on and off anytime as long as you don’t go back. You can take a bus to Shin-Takaokaya and not require to take train from Johana. If you want, you can take a train of course.

      Gokayama Shirakawago Free Kippu is also available. It’s 3500 yen for 2 days and offers unlimited travel between Takaoka and Shirakawago for any directions. But this is sold at Takaoka only. I don’t think you can buy this.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hello, Takishi San.

    We would like to seek your advice on the following:

    1) We plan to go to Takayama for the Spring Festival on the 14th of April 2019.

    2)We have one day before we take the Alpine route (on the 16th). Which area do you suggest: Kanazawa or Toyama .

    2) what is the most scenuc route from Takayama to Shin Takaoka?

    Thank you very much

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

      Hi Melanie san,

      I recommend you to visit Kanazawa. Kanazawa has many more places to see than Toyama.
      When you travel from Takayama to Shin-Takaoka, I recommend to take train from Takayama to Toyama and Toyama to Shin-Takaoka. Actually Takayama to Toyama segment is closed now because it was damaged by rain storm in early this month. But I believe it will be open by the end of this year.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi (not Takishi) / JPRail.com

  8. Vivienne says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    My friend and I planning to go to Ainokura – Suganuma – Shirakawago from Takaoka and return in one day. Is it possible?
    The trip with Kaetsuno Bus allow us to stop by at Ainokura and Suganuma before Shirakawago?

    Kindly advise,
    Vivienne

  9. Mela says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I hope this message finda you well
    I read above articles which is very clear, thank you.

    But I have a question:
    If I take the bus kaetsuno from Shin Takaoka to Shirakawa-go, is it cover by JR Pass?

    Kindly advise
    Thank you

  10. Jesette says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    We are planning to drive to Shirikawago but because we are not confident to drive all through out the snow, where is the nearest station to the village that we can get off to and just ride the bus?

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