In this article, you will find detailed guide on how to travel from Osaka & Kyoto to Shirakwa-go with suggested itineraries for 1 & 2-day tour.
Option #1: Osaka / Kyoto – Takayama – Shirakawa-go by Bus
From Osaka City Air Terminal (see map), the highway bus runs directly from Osaka to Takayama. The bus also stops at Kyoto Station (Shinkansen Hachjo-Gate, see map) to pick up passengers. The schedule is as followed:
The bus fare is as followed (Book online):
From Osaka – Takayama : 5000 Yen (Adult) & 2500 Yen (Child)
From Kyoto – Takayama : 4500 Yen (Adult) & 2250 Yen (Child)
From Takayama station, head over for the bus terminal (see location) to get on the Nohi Bus to Shirakwag-go. The station and the bus terminal are next to one another.
The last bus leaves at 4: 30 pm. (See schedule). The round trip bus fare is 4420 Yen.
Sample 2 days itinerary to Shirakawa-go from Osaka / Kyoto by bus
(Highway bus) 7:20 am- Kyoto 8:30 am – Takayama 12:52pm
Takayama (Nohi bus) 8:50 am – Shirakawa-go 9:40 am
Shirakawa-go 2:50 PM (Nohi bus) – Takayama 3:57PM
Takayama 4:50 PM (Highway bus) – Kyoto Station 9:15 PM – Osaka 10:22 PM
Total transportation cost for an adult: 15420 Yen
Bus tickets can be purchased from Japan Bus Online.
Option #2: Osaka / Kyoto – Nagoya – Takayama – Shirakawa-go by train
Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya are connected on JR Tokaido Shinkansen. You can travel from Osaka, Kyoto to Nagoya via Shinkansen Nozomi trains before you transfer to Shirakawa-go by Gifu bus (more on this later) or Hida train. Note that Nozomi is not covered by JR pass, but you can use JR pass for Hida train.
You may consider purchasing Platt Kodama Pass which allows you to get discounted Shinkasen ticket ( from 4300 Y during off-peak)
Another recommended deal is Takayama-Hokuriku tourist pass which is priced at 14000 Yen for adult and 7000 Yen for a child. The pass is valid for 5 days, and it allows you to take Nohi bus, and trains between Nayoga, Osaka Kyoto, and Takayama (See details here) .
Sample 1 day itinerary to Shirakawa-go from Osaka / Nagoya / Kyoto
Shin-Osaka station (Shinkansen Nozomi) 6:47 am – Nayoga 7:38 pm
Kyoto (Shinkansen Nozomi) 7.02 am – Nagoya 7.38am
Nagoya 7:45 am (Hida train) – Takayama 10:16am
Takayama 10.50 (Nohi Bus) to Shirakawa-go 1140am
Shirakawa-go 5.20 pm (Nohi Bus) to Takayama 1810 pm
Takayama 6:47pm (Hida train) – Nayoga 9:03 pm
Nayoga 9:13pm (Shinkansen Nozomi) – Shin-osaka station 10:03 pm
Nayoga 9.21 pm (Shinkansen Nozomi) – Kyoto 9.55 pm
Option 3: Osaka / Kyoto – Nagoya – Shirakawa-go by train and bus
With this option, you will head straight to Shirakawa-go without stopping at Takayama.
From Osaka and Kyoto, board on Shinkanzen Nozomi for Nagoya (refer to the above section for detailed guide). Then, walk to Meitetsu bus station (see map) and board on Gifu bus for Shirakawa-go. The bus journey is about 2-3 hours, and it costs 3900 Yen per person (Book online from Willer Express).
The bus schedule is as followed:
Note on Nohi Bus
For Nohi bus tickets between Takayama and Shirakawa-go, you can book one-way ticket online. The one way ticket is priced at 2470Yen and 4420 Yen for the round trip. It makes sense to get the round trip ticket, right?
However, there’s no way to purchase the round trip ticket from the website. You have to call the Nouhi Bus ticket office to make your reservations. Don’t worry though, the staff speaks enough English to communicate. You just have to be clear and precise about the related information (eg. Your family names, date and time).
I highly recommend you to get the bus ticket as soon as you’ve finalized your plan. Shirakawa-go is insanely popular among tourists and the seats fill up fast, especially during the light up season.