How to Get to Shirakawa-Go the Easiest Way

Updated: February 12, 2024

Shirakawa-Go Travel Guide – When I was making our Shirakawa-Go itinerary, I researched a lot to make sure that we’d have the best and easiest way possible since we were traveling with our toddler and mother. 

I had already planned how to get there on our own, and I even indicated what to ride from Nagoya station to Shirakawa-Go. However, hubby suggested we get a tour instead to lessen the hassle. 

Disclosure: You may find affiliate links in this post and I may get a small commission without extra cost to you. In return, I’ll give you valuable life hacks and relatable real-life experiences for FREE!

How to get to Shirakawa-Go

The best way how to get to Shirakawa-Go is by booking a tour (get discounted coupons here until March 16, 2024).

By doing so, you avoid having to find the right train and bus to get there. Best of all, you just have to follow the tour guide’s instructions and just sit comfortably on the bus until you get back to your meet-up spot. 

What we did was book on Klook and we instantly received a mobile voucher sent to the email within 24 hours. The tour included a trip to Shirakawa-Go and Takayama and you can get more discounts when you book more people.

However, if you prefer to get there on your own, all you have to do is book a Gifu Bus at the Meitetsu Bus Center near Nagoya station. The bus ride costs about JPY 3,000 (PHP 1,241.03 or USD 22.06) and will take about 3 hrs.

snow, snow covered, winter
On our way to Takayama and Shirakawa Go.

From Tokyo station, you can book the Hokuriku Shinkansen worth JPY 12,730 (PHP 5265 or USD 93.56) and travel for 2 hours and 11 minutes to reach Toyama. Thankfully, the Hokuriku Shinkansen is covered by the JR Pass, so if you have one, you don’t have to worry about the amount you have to pay.

From the Toyama station, you still have to ride the Nohi bus to get to Shirakawa-Go, which is JPY 1540 (PHP 637.06 or USD 11.32). After 1 hour and 25 minutes, you will finally reach Shirakawa Go.

Why did we decide to book a tour instead? We don’t want to spend more time looking for the bus stop while bringing our child and a parent along. If it was only me and hubby, then we’d rather choose to go to Shirakawa-Go on our own. 

Shirakawa-Go Tour

If you’re planning to go to Shirakawa-Go from Tokyo, you can book a 2-day 1-night tour wherein you will also experience an open-air onsen at Hirayu no Yu. A special lunch at the Kitanosyo Steak is also included in the package, so you don’t have to find where to eat. 

Your tour guide will also bring you to see Takayama Historical District. At Takayama, you will see many traditional Japanese houses and many stores where you can find food and souvenir items. 

If you are coming from Osaka, you can also book a 2-day 1-night tour, however, the inclusions are different. Besides the Shirakawa Go and Takayama tour, you will also get to stroll along Kanazawa Park, Kenroku-en, Gyokusen-inmaru Park, and Omicho Market. 

On this tour, you will stay the night at Washington Hotel Plaza Hida Takayama, and the breakfast for the next day is already included in the booking. 

Not coming from Tokyo or Osaka but from Nagoya? Worry not! You can also book a day tour inclusive of Hida beef paired with Oden for lunch. Vegetarians also have a choice to book the one with Oden Set Meal

But you can also book the tour only, and decide on the day where to eat instead. This is the tour that we purchased without the meals, as we have other food plans. However, do take note that the tour guide is Chinese, but she can communicate in simple English so you don’t have to worry so much. 

Best time to go to Shirakawa-Go

shirakawa go, gifu, gifu prefecture, unesco, world heritage, japan
Some of the snow has already melted during the second week of March at Shirakawa-Go.

The best time to go to Shirakawa-Go is May, August, September, and October. That’s when the Shirakawa-Go weather is the easiest to handle. While the true beauty of Shirakawa-Go appears during the winter due to the snow-covered houses, you might have to skip it until when you are traveling without children. 

The Shirakawa-Go official website suggests that you should wear warm when going there during the winter. Also, to avoid slipping in the snow, it would be better to wear shoes that have gripping soles. 

Shirakawa-Go Spring

This Shirakawa-Go travel blog will show you another side of the place that’s less crowded because it’s not the peak days. However, we still appreciated its beauty regardless.

We went there in March and we found that it wasn’t that cold. We were even overdressed for wearing bubble jackets, as the sun was scorching hot. Anyhow, it was best to be ready for the cold weather rather than risk getting sick due to the cold weather. 

Shirakawa-Go Accommodation

I have read from a review that it’s best to stay the night at Shirakawa-Go to witness the Winter Illumination that usually happens during January and February. So, if you plan to go there in those 2 months, you might want to consider booking an overnight stay at Shirakawa Go. 

Book Winter Illumination from Tokyo tickets here.

Book Winter Illumination from Osaka tickets here.

Many Shirakawa-Go hotels are budget-friendly while others have 5-star ratings. Choose which one works for you and your group for the best experience, since you are not going there very often. 

We decided on a Shirakawa-Go day tour only because it was a side trip that we added to our itinerary. Otherwise, we could’ve tried to stay a night at either Takayama or Shirakawa Go. Maybe we can do it the next time we go there. 

Our Shirakawa-Go and Takayama experience

mount dainichi, japan, shirakawa go
Stop over to see Mount Dainichi.

The Shirakawa-Go travel guide required us to be at the bus stop at least 30 minutes before 8 AM. The bus left the station at exactly 8, so if you plan to book a tour, be sure to be there on time!

At about 8:35 AM, we stopped over at Mount Dainichi, and it wouldn’t have been possible if we traveled by ourselves. It was where I saw the restroom with a guideboard!

The not-so-famous tourist spot is a great place to take some pictures because of the snow-covered mountains. However, since the time we visited was a transition from winter to spring, some of the snow has already melted.

guide board, restroom, restroom guideboard
Not all restrooms have guideboards. But wouldn’t it be a whole lot better if they all have?

The tour guide told us that she brought us there because not many can go there because it’s not very well known to the public. After some time, we went back to the bus and started heading for Takayama. 

Hida Beef

hida beef, wagyu beef, takayama
The Takayama hida beef (JPY 400/PHP 165.19/USD 2.94) is worth every penny!

We reached Takayama at about 10:30 AM. From there, we are allowed to wander, shop, and eat for 2 hours. We tried the Hida beef skewers from a stall that sells JPY 400 (PHP 165.19 or USD 2.94) for each stick.

After waiting for a few minutes, we got ours and from the first bite, you will instantly want to bite for more! The salty hida beef is very tender with every bite. We could’ve stayed for lunch if there were more time!

hida beef, takayama
Drooling while waiting for our orders!

Our toddler also enjoyed the beef pieces and he was very happy to finish a stick! You can find many different sellers with different prices and variations. Some others sell Hida beef with sauces and dressings and you just have to choose which one is to your liking.

hida beef, takayama
Many variations to choose from!

Matcha ice cream

You can also find matcha ice cream in every direction. There are different prices ranging from JPY 300 to 600, and we’re lucky to find the cheapest one at JPY 300 (PHP 123.89 or USD 2.21)! Best of all, the ice cream even had matcha powder as a topping. Yum!

matcha, matcha ice cream, ice cream

After our snack, we started walking because time was very limited!

As we walked past some of the traditional houses, we saw a traditional hand-pulled carriage carrying foreigners around. However, I didn’t see where to rent one, which could probably be in some place we didn’t reach.

carriage, hand pulled, hand pulled carriage
A hand-pulled carriage to give visitors a tour around Takayama.
matcha, matcha ice cream, ice cream, ice cream store
Matcha ice cream stores are everywhere!

There were restaurants, souvenir shops, and houses along the streets.

And the residents were very kind to allow visitors to take pictures of their outer house. I also found a store that sells yarns, and of course, I bought some to add to my thinning yarn stash.

yarns, crochet, thread
Of course, I couldn’t leave the place without buying yarns to add to my stash! Haha
takayama, takayama village, traditional japanese house, japanese house
The weather was so hot that the plants dried out.
takayama village, takayama, traditional japanese house, japanese house, gifu prefecture
There are more houses but we couldn’t visit them all in 2 hours.
takayama store, snacks, ice cream store, matcha, matcha ice cream
Many Takayama stalls sell snacks and ice cream so you won’t get hungry in between walks.

Hida Beef Nigiri Sushi

hida beef nigiri, takayama hida beef, hida beef
Hida beef nigiri sushi placed on top of shrimp rice cracker.

There’s this famous Hida beef nigiri sushi store wherein you can enjoy your Hida beef as you walk along the streets. What’s unique about this nigiri is that the staff will serve it to you on a shrimp rice cracker. 

NOTE: Some Japanese find that eating while walking is rude.

The Hida beef is the main ingredient of the nigiri, and a sweet and salty sauce is brushed on top of the beef to compliment the vinegared rice. Include the shrimp rice cracker with the bite for the added crunch to your nigiri sushi!

hida beef nigiri, hida beef, hida beef nigiri sushi, takayama

What I liked most about the nigiri sushi is the tender rare meat that you don’t usually get at any other restaurant. I have even read that Hida beef is better than Wagyu beef, and I agree! So, if you visit Takayama, make sure to give it a try!

It was only 30 minutes before our call time when we lined up for our Hida beef nigiri. We were very confident at first, however, as the queue was taking so long to move, we almost gave up on trying the Hida beef nigiri.

hida beef nigiri, hida beef, takayama

Only 10 minutes left when we got our order, so we immediately rushed to get to our bus. The tour guide was quite upset about it and she couldn’t even allow us to sit with our food. We had to eat everything very quickly!

It was definitely a moment to remember! We had to swallow everything and the juicy Hida beef nigiri almost just passed by my taste buds. I hope we can go back again in the future to be able to enjoy every bite.


shirakawa go, cultural heritage
After walking for almost an hour, here it is!

After leaving Takayama at 12:30 NN, we reached Shirakawa-Go after one hour. The sun was shining so brightly during this time, and while there was some snow left, the weather was not how we expected it to be. 

The road to reach the top to view the historic villages of Shirakawa-Go was a long walk. Thankfully, we decided to leave our bubble jackets on the bus. And it was definitely the best decision to bring our toddler’s stroller because it was a slope leading up to the top.

shirakawa go, cultural heritage

After walking for almost an hour, we finally reached the top. It was a breathtaking view from there. The miniature houses and the large mountains at the back are beautiful sights. The tall trees add to the magnificent view.

shirakawa go
My photo didn’t do justice to the beauty that Shirakawa-Go has.

There’s more to what you see on the internet. The breath of fresh air helps remind you of the good ol’ days when not everywhere is a building, but trees and nature help you get closer to the earth. 

If we weren’t cramped on time, we could’ve spent more time enjoying more of the countryside which we don’t usually experience in our everyday lives. However, since we had a time limit, we had to start going down the seeming trail after taking group and solo pictures. 

This time, we arrived at our bus very early. We were the first ones to board, so we had to wait for the others to come back. Our experience at Shirakawa-Go and Takayama was different because we usually plan our travels independently

Book on Klook

Interested to book a tour for hassle-free travel to Shirakawa Go and Takayama? You can easily get your mobile voucher after checking out! As a plus, you can get an additional 5% discount when you add the promo code “BetterOnApp.” Applicable to first-time mobile app bookings only!

Shirakawa-Go Review Conclusion

Being able to witness a World UNESCO Heritage at Shirakawa-Go and the traditional villages at Takayama was a great experience. Not many cultures can preserve traditions, so the next time you go to Japan, you might want to include them in your itinerary

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse of our Takayama and Shirakawa-Go travel. Have you been there too? I’d love to hear your story in the comment box below!

Leave a Reply