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Driving conditions Shirakawa-go in April

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Toronto, Canada
posts: 9
reviews: 10
Driving conditions Shirakawa-go in April

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.

2 replies to this topic
Orewa, New Zealand
posts: 1,109
reviews: 36
1. Re: Driving conditions Shirakawa-go in April

A.expressway option is available right from takayama to shirakawa now. Head West from the city, go North (ie not to nagoya), at Hidakiyomi IC. There's now a 10km long tunnel through the mountains that comes out above shirakawago.

The main roads should all be accessible.

B. There's a large parking area over the river from the main village at shirakawa go. Though if you're staying in a gassho zukuri, they should have parking available. (Have a look at japan guesthouses.com for accom)

D. You're hire car would already have snow tyres on it. Might be an idea to ask for chains, just-in-case.

You'll have to check closer to time as to amount of snow. I was in Takayam and shirakawa go April 14th 2012 and there was a good amount of snow on the ground still (though the roads were clear), and I was there same date 2013 and no snow.....

good luck, have a great trip

Toronto, Canada
posts: 9
reviews: 10
2. Re: Driving conditions Shirakawa-go in April

Thank you so much Sensei!

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