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Shirakawago and Mt. Shirouma Dake itinerary 2018/7/9 02:26
Dear Japan-Guide Forums!

I am going back home after a year of study from Saitama/Sakado on the August 23. However, we have to leave our apartment 10 days prior, on the 13rd. I have been saving a little bit of scholarship for that ten days, but I would like do the trip as cheap as possible with the likes of Seishun 18 Kippu etc.
I would like to visit Shirakawago and the Hida-Takayama area for climbing, so I'd like to spend around 2-3 days there and then moving on to Hakuba for the mentioned Sarukuraso Lodge to climb Shirouma-dake and do the trip with Yari Onsen as recommended on the Among the Peaks article. https://www.japan-guide.com/blog/peaks/170904.html

I am looking for some advice how to get to the Shirakawa-go area from around Kawagoe, probably using a 18 Kippu. Should I head to North-West towards Gunma/Niigata (maybe dropping in to Hoshitoge Rice Terraces along the way) and do the Shirouma-Dake trip first and head south to Shirakawago or somehow the other way around? Should I get back from Nagoya (since I haven't visited the city yet)?
I would like to get back on the 21st just to be safe (have to pick up my stuff)

Thanks,
Silgrond
by Silgrond  

Re: Shirakawago and Mt. Shirouma Dake itinerary 2018/7/9 12:12
You can find most answers to your transportation questions by referring to the japan-guide.com pages for your intended destinations, and by plugging in station names on route search engines like Jorudan and rome2rio.com. If you've been living in Japan for a year, you'll have gained enough familiarity to piece the routes together.

If you don't want to spend much money, then I'd advise you to pick either Hida-Takayama/Shirakawa-go or Hakuba/Nagoya, unless you want to whittle away large chunks of your time on buses and slow trains while dealing with inconvenient/impractical connections.

It takes 2.5 to 3 hours to reach Hida-Takayama from Tokyo by shinkansen, 8+ hours by highway bus. No matter what route you take, you'll probably have to take another bus out to Shirakawa-go. When I visited those places a few years ago, three days were barely enough for round-trip transportation and selective sight-seeing... and I traveled by the fastest means possible.

By "climbing" do you mean rock climbing or hiking/trekking? I was an avid four-season mountaineer in Japan, and I've never heard of any notable rock climbing areas in Takayama/Shirakawa-go. Even the mountains immediately surrounding the area are rather low and grassy. Haku-san (Mt. Haku, ~2,700m) is a lovely mountain in that general area, but further out and can be a bit of a pain to get to, depending on the season. If you really want to hike up a more alpine-like mountain in Japan, and don't want to spend money on shinkansen, then Haku-san may be a more practical alternative to going all the way down to Hakuba. Incidentally, Haku-san is one of Japan's Three Holy Mountains, so it's not some obscure, backwater mountain. It also has several peaks, so you can chain them together into a multi-day hike. Since there are unmanned emergency huts with no electricity/water and a large manned hut with all conveniences, you wouldn't need to worry about carrying a tent, if you plan properly.

The Shirouma range in Hakuba is stunning, especially in autumn. I'm assuming you want to go up the Daisekkei? I realize it's talked up a lot in guide books and by Japanese hikers, but it's not particularly special, and can be a bit dingy late in the season. Just make sure you take a pair of mini crampons, at the very least, in case the slope is particularly slippery, or if you're not confident on snow. Although I climbed it easily without any crampons, I had good shoes and the snow conditions were perfect. Most people wear intermediate crampons. Full crampons are overkill in August.

Shirouma also has numerous tall peaks you can chain together, but I'd advise you to stay on the main peak of Shirouma-dake, unless you're an advanced hiker with solid endurance and scrambling experience, and possess both a good map and route navigation skills. There are some ridges that are extremely exposed and treacherous, even though they don't require a high technical ability.
by KeroK rate this post as useful

Re: Shirakawago and Mt. Shirouma Dake itinerary 2018/7/9 12:14
I forgot to add this link: https://japanhike.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/mt-shirouma/

This website provides detailed route and access information, in English, to many mountains in Japan.
by KeroK rate this post as useful

Re: Shirakawago and Mt. Shirouma Dake itinerary 2018/7/10 02:37
Wow, thanks for your extremely detailed answer, this is all I was looking for!

I don't mind travelling with even the slowest trains, but mentioning the bus as an option is something I haven't thought about, I'll check them out later.

Yes, I meant trekking. I think I have decent experience since I was doing scouting for more than 10 years in Middle-Europe. I think I am fine with navigating, however I have only done trekking outside from the routes with a map a handful times, but as far as I know these roads are well marked and fairly popular.

Thanks for the recomenndation of Haku-san, this might have actually been one of the mountains I have looked up more than a year ago and forgot about. :)
Yes, I was thinking of going up the Daisekkei, staying for a night at that hut which was mentioned in the article, Hakuba Sanso, then heading to Yaridake and the Yari onsen.

Do you think that Haku-san has better views and flora/fauna than Shirouma? I am looking for some Alpine views, love travelling in the Alps in Austria.

Thank you very much again for your detailed response,
SIlgrond
by Silgrond rate this post as useful

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