Snowy Takayama & Shirakawa-go – The most affordable Pass to go in Japan!

Visiting Takayama and Shirakawa-go for some captivating snow views? Discover how we took rails from Nagoya to Takayama and Shirakawa-go, all with our 5-day pass.. well, that’s not all, we also managed to visit 4 other cities:

  • Gero (popular natural hot spring)
  • Takaoka (handicrafts and Doraemon founder town – ha, you didn’t know that as well right?)
  • Kanazawa (great gold leaf ice cream)
  • and

  • Fukui (dinosaur land, we mean it).
  • All at an easy-wallet cost of just SGD$180 for a 5days Japan Railway (JR) ‘Takayama-Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass’, you will be able to ride express & limited express rails between regions from Osaka to Kyoto to Kanazawa to Toyama to Takayama and Nagoya, Hokuriku Shinkansen between Toyama - Kanazawa station and bus services between Takayama and Shin-Takaoka/Kanazawa. This allows you to not just visit Shirakawa-go and Gokayama by express buses from Takayama but also the other regions along the way.

    Why travel by rail?

    It’s your chance to enjoy bento boxes that you can easy get them at train stations! Japan bento boxes come in a range of meal choices and enjoy it on the train. You’ll be filled before reaching your destination!

    Sit back and enjoy the view through wide big glass windows. Snowy views, who will mind? And punctuality – rails are often on-time and you can reach your destination without any delays.

    Also, cut those unnecessary scrambling for coins and queues just to get a ticket on the next train because the JR Pass allows you to just enter on non-reserved seats and hop on the next available eligible train.

    Savour one of the best beef!


    Before we get on that, absorb the snow-decked roofs and mountains that surround the region. Take a peek of the town’s history at the Takayama Town Museum (once a government office) or a stroll along the Takayama Old town and pick up….

    The country’s best beef! A direct rival with Kobe’s beef, melt these A5 beef (highest grade of all) in your mouth and taste the softness and chew it with memories.

    What about Hida beef in steaming bun ‘pau’? We savoured one of these hearty delicacies and didn’t regret picking up one.

    Enjoy slurping warm miso soup at a local shop along the Takayama old town. The town is famous for making fermented soybean paste (miso) and sweets on stick (Mitarashi Dango), alongside with dozens of sake breweries.

    Don’t forget to nom a bit-size Miso seaweed cracker at the souvenir shop and bring packets home to share the joy!

    And.. the region’s best beef – Hida beef in strips of potato crunch. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t pack some home in their mini size packaging. Oh, they’re also good companions for bus/train trips!

    World Heritage Gassho with 5-star views

    Settle in comfort and awe at the UNESCO World heritage Shirakawago sightseeing areas. These tall houses known as Gassho with thatched roofs are indeed rare and can only be caught in Shirakawago. There are only 23 of these houses in Japan and are able to withstand harsh conditions in one of the country’s coldest areas.

    In the village, you can find some of the villager’s daily tools and purchase them as souvenirs. Plan a visit to the Gassho museum where you can take an inner look at these houses and the distinctive architectures of building them.

    Bring home blocks of miniature houses or boxes of Shiso Monaka, an adzuki sweet snack and add them to your collection.

    Hike up the slopes to the observatory point where you’ll be immersed in a 360° views of the village. Snow-capped thatched houses together with the mountainous areas made the view more scenic.

    Escape the crowd!

    Finding a more peaceful area? Head over to Gokayama, just 30mins from Shirakawago by bus covered by your JR pass and check-into a less touristy area in Gifu with these Gassho houses.

    Fall flat on these blissful snow and practically ‘hug’ the views of these tall Gassho houses. Most of these houses operate as a tourist souvenir shop or restaurants for some quick meal.

    Tips:

  • Travelers can enjoy 5-days Takayama-Hokuriku Area pass that covers buses to Shirakawa-go and Gokayama in Gifu.
  • The pass also covers shinakensen (bullet train) between Kanazawa and Toyama. Travelers can end their day-trip at Takayama/Kanazawa/Shin-Takaoka and use the pass for limited express rails back to Nagoya and Osaka.
  • It’s advisable to return from Osaka KIX Airport terminal as the pass allows you to travel directly to the airport without any surcharge.
  • The pass can be changed at a few stations at the Nagoya JR station or Osaka Kansai Airport before travel. Purchase has to be made at local residence travel agencies before visiting Japan.
  • Travelers can opt to stay in Gero Onsen, a town popular for hot springs and cost-saving accommodations than those in Takayama. There’re quite a few accomodation choices but we’ll recommend Suimeikan Gero Onsen which caters 3 onsens (hot spring) – all of them made it to Japan’s top three Famous Onsens.
  • For more information, please visit JR Pass official website and where to get the JR Pass.

    Sy was a guest of Japan Railway and its partners.

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