Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 6, Takaoka to Shirakawago via Himi line, Johana line and Shirakawago

2016 winter Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku
Snowman in Shirakawago welcomes you in winter time.

Snowman in Shirakawago welcomes you in winter time.

This post is continued from Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 5, Matsumoto to Takaoka via Toyama.

On 5th day, I started the round trip to Himi in early morning. And then I went down to Takayama via Johana line and Shirakawago.

Himi line train trip between Takaoka and Himi

Takaoka 06:52 (Himi line local train) 07:09 Himi 07:27 (Himi line local train) 7:56 Takaoka

Takaoka station south exit

I departed from Takaoka in early morning because I wanted to take Himi line before going to Shirakawago. I have taken Himi line when I was high school student. But it was long time ago and I almost lost my memory.

Train is wrapped by Japanese anime “Ninja Hattori-kun”. Because Himi and Takaoka are hometowns of this anime artist, Fujiko Fujio.

This line is very short but the view is spectacular. When weather is good, Tateyama mountains can be seen over Toyama bay.

However when I took this line at this time, it was cloudy and I could not see any mountains over the bay like the photo above. I will come back there again. I did not have a time to drop by Himi fisherman’s wharf. I have one more reason to come back there anyway.

Johana line train trip from Takaoka to Johana

Takaoka 08:01 (Johana line local train) 08:59 Johana

After train trip on Himi line, I changed the train to Johana. Johana is located on the way to Shirakawago from Takaoka.

This photo was taken at Takaoka station when I got off Himi line train.

If you use JR Pass and take this line, you can save some cost but it is only 100 yen difference. If you take a bus from Takaoka or Shin-Takaoka station, bus fare is 1800 yen. If you take a bus from Johana, the fare is 1700 yen. If you want to have easier trip, just take a bus from Takaoka or Shin-Takaoka. I love train trip more than bus. The difference of the fare was not my concern. I took Johana line train anyway.

Johana line is very typical local line. In the morning, the train is packed by many students.

But most of them got off the train at a few stations away from Takaoka. After that train was almost empty.

The weather was better than when I was on Himi line. I could see some mountains on the way to Johana.

Johana line train is very typical diesel fleet.

Johana line is very small station. Bus stop is located in front of the station. I waited for Kaetsuno bus to Shirakawago there.

Johana station. Bus stop is just beside the phone booth.

Bus trip to Shirakwago from Johana and sightseeing in Shirakawago

Johana 09:05 (Kaetsuno bus) 10:20 Shirakawago

I got on Kaetsuno bus to Shirawago at Johana. The bus was almost full. I could not get a regular seat. The bus driver suggested me to sit down at jump seat. Most of highway coaches in Japan have jump seat. It is a sort of folding chair at the isle of the bus. When all seats are full in the coach, unfold it from the armrest and sit down.

Typical folding jump seat

I had to sit down on the jump seat but I got the front row. I could enjoy the view.

It was mild winter but there are lots of snow on the way to Shirakawago.

After arrival Ainokuraguchi, many passengers got off.

Front side of Sekai Isan Bus that is operated by Kaetsuno bus.

I took a regular seat. On the way to Shirakawago, we can see many of traditional residence beside the road and the view was very scenic.

Bus passed by Suganuma.

Bus arrived at Shirakawago. By the way, the interior of this bus is like the photo below:

It is very typical highway coach. But this bus does not equip washroom. So be prepared before on board.

Sightseeing in Shirakawago

Stay in Shirakawago from 10:20 to 12:15
It was weekday and shoulder season. It was still one week before Chinese New Year. However Shirakawago was so busy. As I mentioned, the bus from Johana was almost full. There were many buses parked in front of information center.

At bus parking in Shirakawago.

Shirakawago information center is same style housing as others. It’s located in the parking. You can find it easily.

We need to cross the bridge to get the village area from the parking.

You may have see this bridge in other photos before. Many photo of this bridge are shown on SNS, blogs and other website.

Before I walked through village of Shirakawago, I bought something to eat.

This is Gohei-Mochi. It’s a sort of grilled rice cake. This rice cake is one of local foods in this area.

Main street of Shirakawago village

I got on the shuttle bus to the viewpoint.

Shuttle bus parked in the village stop.

Shuttle bus is quite small.

After 10 minutes ride and I got the viewpoint. The fare is 200 yen one way.

Bus stop at viewpoint. It is just a step away from the viewpoint.

This view point is called “Shiroyama viewpoint” or “Tenshukaku viewpoint”. Most of you may have seen the view from this view point.

I spend there for 20 minutes because bus departs every 20 minutes.

Departure time of shuttle bus from viewpoint to village.

This is most popular view point to see whole part of village. If you visit Shirakawago from spring to autumn, you can hike up to this view point. It takes 20 to 30 minutes on foot to get view point.

The train head to viewpoint from village. It was closed in winter time due to snow.

When I visited there, shuttle bus stop was located in front of “Wada-ke house” that is one of the landmarks in Shirakawago. But it may be changed. Please ask it at information center to make sure.

After visiting view point, I walked and enjoyed the scenery in the village until the next bus departure time.

After visiting Shirakawago, I went to Takayama and Kanazawa.

Continue to the post, Trip to Tohoku, Chubu and Chugoku in 2016 winter – Part 7, visit Takayama and Kanazawa


  1. Ingrid T says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I’m planning to go to Shirakawago from Shin Takaoka, taking Kaetsuno Bus.
    However, we will stay somewhere near Kaimukura stop.
    I understand from the previous reply that we can ring the bell or maybe the bus will stop at this stop. However, we never been there before, how will we know which one is Kaimukura stop, is there any information in the bus that indicate the name of the next bus stop? or will the driver mention it before reaching the bus stop? I’m afraid that we will miss the stop.
    Another question is, on the next day, we want to take bus from Kaimukura to Suganuma for sight seeing. Then hop on again from Suganuma to Shirakawago.
    For these hop on and off, how to pay the bus? to the driver direct?
    Is there any 1 or 2 days pass to hop on and off the buss freely? I’m travelling with young children.
    Thank you so much and appreciate if you can help.

  2. Hello Takeshi,

    Could you tell what date you went to Shirakawago? I planning to go there in 13th January next year (2019) do you think I could go to the viewpoint on that date?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Nia,

      I went there on Feb 5th (Fri) in 2016. Actually the view point is open for all year round. Just walkway to the view point is closed during winter.


      Takeshi /

  3. Feliz says:

    Hello Takeshi. Its nice to find this. But i still confuse since this is my 1st time going to japan. I still not sure about where i can go there fastest route. I plan to buy JR pass or hakoriku pass. Is that enough not to buy another bus ticket to go there? If you dont mind please help me arrange my schedule. From tokyo to kanazawa and then gl shirakawa go? Which station i should stop then?

  4. jentonk
    Jennyfer says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    I will be based in Toyama. and planning to see Tonami Tulip Fair and Shirakawago and dinner at Takayama on 20th April 2018 . do you think I can do all in one day? Planning to take train to Johana after Tonami then take Kaetsuno Bus to Shirakawago then take nohi/hokutetsu bus to Takayama.

    If I am getting the Shirakawago Gokayama World Heritage Bus Ticket. Where can I buy it?
    When is the last bus depart from Shirakawago to Takayama if I buy this pass?

    or lets say I don’t continue to Takayama and I am getting the Gokayama-shirakawago Free Kippu (3500 yen). can I take a a bus back from Shirakawago to Johana Station?

    I am not really clear with this information below.
    Gokayama-Shirakawago Free Kippu (3500 yen)
    Round trip between Takaoka Station and Johana Station and free use of buses between Johana Station and Shirakawago, including Gokayama. Valid for up to two consecutive days.

    I hope you could help me in making the right decision.

  5. ully says:

    really good trip review! im planning to go to shirakawa go this december. im planning to take nohi bus from toyama station. can we book the nohi bus from tokyo station? also, if im planning to take hokutetsu bus, how much is the round trip fare? is it 1800 yen one way or round trip from shin takaoka station?

  6. Yee Mun says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Is the round trip bus ticket can be use in both Nohi and Hokutetsu bus to and from Shirakawago? Because I might be taking different bus company to and from Shirawakago due to their different bus timing.

    Thanks & Regards!

  7. HITakeshi, We will go to Shirakawago on May 7, 2017 . I know I can reserve a bus seat from Nagoya station to Shirakawago. From Shirakawago to Takayama station, we will walk around at Shirakawago for couple hours. Do you think I can buy ticket at Shirakawago Nochi bus station to Takayama on May 7? The only concern is the buses are full from Shirakawago to Takayama. Or the other option is , we take bus from Nagoya station to Takayama station and buy ticket from Nochi bus to Shirakawago..
    What is your opinion? Look forward to your early reply. thanks

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Benny,

      I recommend you to book a seat in advance. The bus is always very crowded. Shirakawago is very popular in all season in these days.


      Takeshi /

  8. ninoy0809 – I am not a writer but trying to be
    Frans says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Your post is more detail than other site, very helpful.
    I just wonder how is Shirakawa Go in Autumn ? Have you experience it ? Are there so many tourist or less ? I plan to visit in late November. I know it’s not Winter yet …

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Frans,

      Late November may be slowest season. Fall foliage season is mid Oct to Mid Nov. So late November is not winter and not fall. It’s transition season. But Shirakawago is always busy in these days. You will see many more tourists than your expectation.


      Takeshi /

  9. Lily Zhen says:

    Hi, I’m just wondering, around what month/date were you in Shirakawa-go in this post? Because I’m planning to go to Shirakawa-go on April 19th and am wondering whether there will be any snow left. Thank you ^^

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Lily,

      I was there in early February. The chance to see snow on April 19 is very slim. Late April is usually cherry blossom season there.


      Takeshi /

      • Lily Zhen says:

        I see, thank you for the info, Takeshi.

        I have one more question, I’m going from Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa using the earliest Thunderbird, so i’ll arrive at 9.13.

        Then I have to drop luggages (a group of 10 people) either at baggage room or coin locker before going to the Nohi ticket office to pay for my nohi bus reservation.

        Is it possible to get to the bus stop to catch the 9.40 bus (because we only have 20 minutes to store luggages and go to the ticket office to pay before going to the bus stop)? Or should I just reserve the later bus (10.50)?

        Thankyou again ^^

        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          Takeshi / says:

          Hi Lily,

          You may be able to do but it will be tight. I takes only 5 minutes from the platform to Nobi bus ticket office. But you must find the luggage space right away and get ticket office as soon as possible.

          If I were you, I go for 9:40 bus and try to find the locker ASAP. If I cannot find the space in 5 minutes, I take a luggage to Shirakawago and put it in locker or luggage space in Shirakawago.


          Takeshi /

  10. TMack says:

    Hi, very informative. Just wondering, in regard to Kaetsuno Bus, do they stop in every bus stop or do we need to ring the bell to stop?
    We will take this bus from Johana Station to Ainokura in January 2017.
    Thank you

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi TMack,

      There are bells but you don’t need to. Lots of passengers get off there. Bus stops at most of stops. Especially Ainokura and Suganuma are very popular places.


      Takeshi /

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