How to get to Shirakawa-go from Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka by JR Pass

by | Oct 13, 2017 | Blog, Japan, Latest Posts

It’s a question that arises frequently in relation to Japan travels: how to get to Shirakawa-Go from Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto followed closely by inquiries as to the possibility of using a JR Pass to travel there. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, made up of the historic mountain villages of Shirkawa-go and Gokayama, consists of farmhouses with thatched roofs built in the gassho zukuri architecture style.  We’ve outlined the routes from Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto and which are covered under a JR Pass ticket.

Travelling in Japan

We travelled throughout the country with a green JR Pass which we purchased prior to travelling to Japan. We also used this for the train portion of our journey to Shirakawa-Go – you can check out the latest prices for green and ordinary passes on Japan Rail Pass where we purchased our JR passes.

 

Click here to buy your JR pass now

 

How to get to Shirakawa-Go

Shirakawa-Go is not served by rail so a journey to the UNESCO World Heritage Site involves both a train and a bus journey for most visitors. Direct buses leave from Takayama, Kanazawa and Toyama and serve both Shirakawa-go and Gokayama.

 

How to get to Shirakawa-Go from Tokyo

Option 1: Tokyo to Kanazawa to Shirakawa-Go

 

  • Train from Tokyo to Kanazawa followed by a bus ride from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-Go: from Tokyo hop on a Hakutaka Shinkansen or a Shinkansen Kagayaki to Kanazawa both of which are covered under the JR Pass and takes 2hours 20minutes to 2hours 50minutes depending on the service. The bus journey between Shirakawa-Go and Toyama takes 1hour 25minutes and a one way ticket costs ¥1,850, a return ¥3,290. We recommend booking as soon as possible as the late afternoon seats from Shriakawa-Go book up in advance.

Total Journey Time: 3hours 45minutes to 4hours 15minutes

Train covered under JR Pass: Yes

 

Option 2: Tokyo to Toyama to Shirakawa-Go

 

  • Train from Tokyo to Toyama  followed by a bus ride from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-Go: from Tokyo hop on a Hakutaka Shinkansen or a Shinkansen Kagayaki to Toyama both of which are covered under the JR Pass and takes 2hours 8minutes to 2hours 34minutes depending on the service. The bus journey between Shirakawa-Go and Kanazawa takes 1hour 15minutes and a one way ticket costs ¥1,700, a return ¥3,060. We recommend booking as soon as possible as the late afternoon seats from Shriakawa-Go book up in advance.

Total Journey Time: 3hours 25minutes to 3hours 50minutes

Train covered under JR Pass: Yes

Where to stay in Tokyo

We had visits to Tsukiji Fish Market and Sushi Dai on our Tokyo wish list and opted to stay within walking distance of the Fish Market given they both required 2am starts and we wanted to be within walking distance of the market.

  • Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel: A solid modern hotel option. It’s also a 10 minute walk from the fish market but also really central for seeing the rest of the city – Check prices here!
  • Shibuya Excel Hotel, Tokyu: The 25th floor restaurant level offers the best views of Shibuya and the beside train station location is excellent for exploring the city Check prices here!

 

Click here for the best hotels in Tokyo

 

How to get to Shirakawa-Go from Osaka

Option 1: Osaka to Kanazawa to Shirakawa-Go

 

  • Train from Kyoto to Kanazawa followed by a bus ride from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-Go: from Kyoto hop on a Limited Express Thunderbird train which is covered under the JR Pass and takes around 2hours 35minutes. The bus journey between Shirakawa-Go and Kanazawa takes 1hour 15minutes and a one way ticket costs ¥1,700, a return ¥3,060. We recommend booking as soon as possible as the late afternoon seats from Shriakawa-Go book up in advance.

Total Journey Time: 3hours 50minutes

Train covered under JR Pass: Yes

Where to stay in Osaka

As with all Japanese cities we recommend staying as close to the main JR station as possible. It avoids the need for expensive taxis and will save a lot of time walking!

Swissotel Nankai Osaka: located on top of Namba’s Nankai station with easy access to airport train and comfortable rooms – check prices here!

Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Premier: one of the more reasonably priced Osaka options with good rooms and a convienent shuttle bus from Osaka station – check prices here!

 

Click here for the best Osaka hotel prices

 

How to get to Shirakawa-Go from Kyoto

Option 1: Kyoto to Kanazawa to Shirakawa-Go

 

  • Train from Kyoto to Kanazawa followed by a bus ride from Kanazawa to Shirakawa-Go: from Kyoto hop on a Limited Express Thunderbird train which is covered under the JR Pass and takes around 2hours 10minutes. The bus journey between Shirakawa-Go and Kanazawa takes 1hour 15minutes and a one way ticket costs ¥1,700, a return ¥3,060. We recommend booking as soon as possible as the late afternoon seats from Shriakawa-Go book up in advance.

Total Journey Time: 3hours 25minutes

Train covered under JR Pass: Yes

Where to stay in Kyoto

Like most Japanese cities we highly recommend staying as close to the main JR train station. This makes getting around much easier. However the best hotels close to the train stations fill up weeks ahead of time (in some cases months) so you’ll save yourself a lot of extra walking or expensive taxis by booking your accommodation well in advance.

Hotel Granvia Kyoto:  this hotel could not have a better location – it’s in the actual Kyoto JR station with super quick access to the trains and the rest of the city. A modern hotel with comfortable western style rooms, a fitness centre and swimming pool, there are lots of food options in and around the station. This is our number one pick for where to stay in Kyoto – check latest prices here!

Hotel Kintetsu Kyoto Station: Another great hotel located within Kyoto JR station too. Hotel Kintetsu is slight cheaper than Hotel Granvia, however it is still a great choice with decently sized western style rooms and beds – check latest prices here!

Ibis Kyoto Station: The Ibis is a great value option and, it’s so close to Kyoto station, you can catch a glimpse of the hotel from the Shinkansen platform! – check latest prices here!

Click here for the best Kyoto hotel prices

How to get to Shirakawa-Go from Takayama, Kanazawa and Toyama

 

  • Direct buses operate between Takayama, Kanazawa and Toyama

Bus fares to Shirakawa-Go:

  Single Return
Takayama to Shirakawa-Go ¥2,470 ¥4,420
Kanazawa to Shirakawa-Go ¥1,850 ¥3,290
Toyama to Shirakawa-Go ¥1,700 ¥3,060

 

 

We spent a night in Takayama en route to Shirakawa-go as we wanted to experience a traditional Japanese Ryokan and Takayama was one of the best value options we could find. We stayed in the Ryokan Tanabe, an initimate Ryokan with spacious rooms, great food and lovely hosts – check latest prices here!

 

Our room at Ryokan Tanabe

 

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