My first visit to Shirakawa-go was just visiting the famous old Japanese village and didn’t imagine to explore the neighborhoods. This time, after we had visited Shirakawa-go, we drove along Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road between the Hakusan City in Ishikawa and Shirakawa-go in Gifu to explore the neighboring surrounds in Hakusan National Park. If you’re visiting Shirakawa-go, here’s what not miss.
Hakusan National Park
Hakusan National Park spreads on 4 prefectures, Ishikawa, Gifu, Fukui and Toyama and it has Mount Hakusan with the 2,702m altitude. Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road opens from June to November due to its heavy snow in winter season.
Hakusan National Park was one of the best places to see and experience Japanese mountainous area. It was the same image of mountainous area that I had read about in the picture book of folktales. Green mountains were all around and a white stream was running at the bottom of the valley. It looked like remote mountains but was well-maintained by local people.
Oyadani hot spring’s public bath
We went to Oyadani hot springs in front of Ubagataki Falls. Oyadani hot springs gushed out from the riverbed, and it had an open-air bath and foot bath. It was the best experience of driving on the Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road to take an outside bath at Oyadani hot springs.
We were so excited to find the secret hot spring even though it was well known on the maps. We believed that it was worth driving for only this hot spring. The sidewalk to the Oyadani hot springs was well maintained and we could explore in the deep mountains.
When I checked the Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road on the map, it looked very short. However, the distance was 33.3km at an altitude ranging from 600m to 1,450m. The road had so many sharp bends and blind curves.
Unfortunately, all of us got carsick and could not enjoy scenery of the mountains during our drive as much as we wanted. We needed to take a break every 10 mins, so we parked to take a rest and see around. Parking and restrooms were available at all viewing spots. Shirakawa-go Observatory deck at 1,230m altitude had nice observatory to see the Shirakawa-go area.
How to get there
It takes approximately 15 mins from Shirakawa-go, located in the northern part of Gifu, to the entrance of Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road. The official website said it takes 60 mins, but I recommend to set aside 2 hours at least.
On the first day, get on the Shinkansen Bullet train from Tokyo to Toyama. Head to Shirakawago and spend a day or two there visiting old Japanese houses. Next drive to Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road and stay around Hakusan Ichirinosato hot springs area. On the next day, visit Kanazawa area in Ishikawa and head back to Tokyo or Osaka.