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.

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

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
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.

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.

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

  1. Dear Takeshi
    I will be visiting Nagoya for 3 nights, Gero for a nite and Takayama for another 3 nights before heading to Tokyo in Dec. Should I get the Takayama Hokuriku pass if the places I will be visiting are Ninja museum, Nabana no Sato, Shirigawago, Hida Furukawa and Mikimoto Pearl Island?

    Much thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Evonne,

      You can use Takayama Hokuriku Area tourist pass for Takayama, Shirakawago and Hida Furukawa. But you must buy Kintetsu rail pass as well. You need this to get Toba (pearl island), Iga Ueno (Ninja museum) and Kuwana (Nabana no Sato). Takayama Hokuriku area tourist pass does not cover these places. Please find the info about Kintetsu rail pass in the link below:
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/kintetsu-rail-pass-most-affordable-deal-for-osakakyoto-nagoya-and-access-to-ise.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hello! Do you think Toyama is a good base if I’m using the Takayama – Hokuriku (sp?) Pass coming from Nagoya with plans to do day trip in Kyoto and Shirakawago. I’m planning to stay within the coverage area and it seems like it’s an ideal base vs Takayama since it’s a long ride to get to Kanazawa from Takayama. Thanks!!

  3. Dear Takeshi-san

    I would like to travel to Shirakawa-go, Suganuma and Ainokura from Takayama. After touring the 3 places, I would like to travel straight to Kanazawa. I would be using the Takayama Hokuriku Pass. May I know which is a faster way to reach Kanazawa?
    A) a train from Shin-Takaoka or
    B) Go back to Shirakawa-go to take a bus

    Thank you

    Regards
    Sabrina

      1. Dear Takeshi,

        I plan to go to Kanazawa directly from Kansai airport on 25 January and arriving time 01pm, could you please suggest me what train should I take and can I buy the train ticket when I arrive at the airport?
        And I have ICOCA card, can it be used?

        Thank you so much for your kindly assistance in advance. Looking forward to hear from you soon.

        Best regards,
        Dave

        1. Hi Dave,

          You can take the following route:

          Kansai airport (limited express Haruka) Shin-Osaka (limited express Thunderbird) Kanazawa
          https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/kansai-airport-limited-express-haruka.html
          https://jprail.com/trains/sort-by-type/limited-express/limited-express-thuderbird-raicho-%e9%9b%b7%e9%b3%a5.html

          You may use ICOCA but it covers only base fare. You must add a limited express train seat ticket beside ICOCA. And the base fare to Kanazawa from Kansai airport is around 6,000 yen. You must have this amount in ICOCA. If it’s troublesome, just but both base fare ticket and limited express seat ticket at same time in Kansai airport station. You can buy both in Kansai airport station.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  4. Hi,

    I will be traveling to Shirakawago and Kanazawa.I have booked Shinkansen from Tokyo to Toyoma for 29th Dec early morning and my return ticket is from Kanazawa on 1st Jan’20.
    1st night we are staying near Hirayu Onsen. So how can I go to Hirayu Onsen from Shirakawago without reservation.

    My question is, How can I go to Shirakawago from Toyoma without booking Nohi bus. Is there any train which I can take from Toyoma to Shirakawago.
    Also can I go till Takaoka from Toyoma by train by buying ticket on the same day and then from there how can I go to Shirakawago. Since I do not have time so I need suggestion for transport modes which do not need pre booking.

    I also want to know how can I go to Kanazawa from Hirayu onsen without advance booking. Is there any bus or train.

    Am not eligible for JR Pass.

    Please suggrest.

    1. Hi Anindita,

      You may take Nohi bus from Shirakawago to Takayama and Takayama to Hirayu onsen:
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/route_bus/takayama-shirakawago-line-en/
      https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/route_bus/shinhotaka-line-en/

      You can take these buses without reservation.

      You cannot take Kanazawa – Shirakawago direct bus without reservation. So you have to get Takaoka or Shin-Takaoka and take Kaetsuno bus to get Shirakawago. You can get Takaoka or Shin-Takaoka from either Kanazawa or Toyama by train. You can get Toyama from Takayama by train. There is no trains from Shirakawago. You must take a bus.

      Reservation is also required Toyama – Shirakawago direct bus. So your way from Shirakwago is going to Takaoka/Shin-Takaoka or Takayama.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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