How to travel between Shirakawago and Takayama
Takayama and Shirakawa-go are connected with each other by hourly buses (see timetable). The one way trip takes 50 minutes and costs 2600 yen. A round trip ticket is available for 4600 yen. Some but not all buses require seat reservations. The Japan Rail Pass is not valid on these buses. Reservations can be made via Japan Bus Online.
Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama are two formerly remote regions in the mountains of Gifu Prefecture and Toyama Prefecture respectively. These days, the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway has brought them to within an hour of the nearby cities of Kanazawa, Toyama and Takayama.
Both regions cover a large area of mountainous terrain with a few small villages here and there. Among the villages, Ogimachi has the largest number of old farmhouses and is most easily accessible by public transportation. Ainokura and Suganuma are the nicest villages in Gokayama, but a little bit more time-consuming to access.
Ogimachi is the region's transportation hub, with bus connections to Takayama, Kanazawa, Nagoya, Takaoka and Toyama. Shirakawa-go IC on the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway is located just outside of the village.
The Gokayama region is located along the bus route from Ogimachi to Takaoka in Toyama Prefecture. Bus service along this route has greatly improved in recent years; nevertheless, a rental car can still provide more flexibility and convenience for getting around (outside of winter when driving can be challenging). From Gokayama IC on the Tokai-Hokuriku Expressway, Suganuma is only two minutes by car, while Ainokura can be reached in about 15 minutes.
Many tickets and passes are offered to tourists for accessing and exploring Shirakawago, Gokayama and surrounding destinations. Below are some of them:
- Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass
Unlimited use of JR trains between Nagoya and Takayama and between Kanazawa and Osaka and of Nohi/Hokutetsu buses between Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa (but not on the buses between Takayama and Toyama). More details...
- Shoryudo Highway Bus Ticket
Unlimited use of highway buses between Nagoya, Takayama, Shirakawago and Kanazawa (but not on the buses between Takayama and Toyama) and airport access to/from Nagoya's Central Japan Airport and/or Komatsu Airport near Kanazawa. More details...
- Three-Star Route Ticket (5500 yen)
A discounted one way ticket for bus travel between Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama, Okuhida and Matsumoto. The "Three-Star" refers to the 3-star rating by Michelin Guide for multiple attractions along this route. Known as "Mitsuboshi Route Kippu" in Japanese.
- Shirakawago Gokayama Route Ticket (3980 yen)
One way trip between Takaoka Station and Takayama (in either direction). Ticket holders can get on an off the bus freely between Takaoka and Shirakwago, but no backtracking is allowed. The ticket is valid for up to three consecutive calendar days and can be purchased at the Takayama Bus Terminal, the bus ticket counter at Takaoka Station and the tourist information desks at Shin-Takaoka and Johana stations.
- Gokayama Free Kippu (2500 yen)
Round trip between Takaoka Station and Johana Station and free use of buses between Johana Station and Gokayama, but not as far as Shirakawago.
- 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.
- Takaoka-Shirakawago One Way Free Kippu (2000 yen)
One way trip from Takaoka Station to Shirakawago with stopovers allowed along the way between Johana Station and Shirakawago.