I did find several posts about this before, but I was hoping for some further clarification, as it seems the expressway to Shirakawa-go from Takayama may be a recently added route.
We are 4 people travelling in the first week of April. I have very basic and mostly forgotten Japanese language skills. I have experience driving on the left side of the road in Australia, and experience driving in snow/ice conditions in Canada. The plans are:
Day 1: Train from Tokyo to Takayama, and then immediately transit to Shirakawa go for the night.
Day 2: From Shirakawa-go, we would like to explore the nearby villages. Return to Takayama for the night.
Day 3: Day trip to Okuhida, to visit the hot springs. We would like to hike the mountain if possible. Return to Takayama for the night.
It seems we could save a significant amount of money to rent a car, along with the added flexibility compared with taking a bus. My questions are:
(A) Is it any easier to navigate the area with the use of the expressway? Is there still risk of road closures or inaccessibility?
(B) Is parking readily available in Shirakawa-go and the nearby villages? Could this become a problem?
(C) Is parking readily available at the hot springs in Okuhida?
(D) Will it be necessary to have a 4WD, winter tires or chains on the car at this time of year for the above mentioned routes? The weather prediction appears to be consistently above 0 degrees, however in previous posts people recommended winter tires for snow.
Thank you for any additional advice you can provide.