Let's drive through the Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road!
Here you’ll find everything you need to plan your visit to the Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road.
Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road is a vehicle-only toll road connecting Hakusan city in Ishikawa prefecture and Shirakawa-go village in Ohno county, Gifu prefecture. It is 33.3 kilometers in length, 6.5 meters wide and passes through the area at altitudes ranging from 600 to 1,450 meters. It is much loved by drivers and tourists alike as the best road through the magnificent landscape in the Hokuriku region, taking in the Hakusan National Park with views of the Hakusan mountain range. Please remember that unlike a motorway, motorbikes are not allowed on the White Road. Pedestrians are also not allowed access to this road, although there are regular walking events held, when it is permitted to walk along the roads. The road was known as “Hakusan Super Rindo” up until 2014 but is now called “Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road” and leads to neighboring Gifu prefecture from the end of route 360 and is actually the only direct route connecting Ishikawa and Gifu prefectures. It is a sightseeing road from where you can truly appreciate great nature and history: beautiful trees, flowers and wild birds in the spring and summer and the beautiful colors of autumn leaves from mid-October to November. There are also hot springs and the World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go nearby.
The toll rates are 1,600 yen for a single trip and 2,600 yen for a return trip. There are so many interesting things to see on this 33-kilometer forest road that it’s difficult to do it all in one day. Despite being a toll road, you do not have to travel the entire length, meaning that if you want to go just to see the autumn leaves, you can pay the price for a single trip and enter the road from the Ishikawa prefecture side and continue driving until just before the toll gate in Gifu prefecture, then make a U-turn. The White Road connects Hakusan city and Shirakawa village, both of which have considerable amounts of snow accumulation during the winter and are in the area classified as the heavy snow belt. The road is therefore only open for a short period of time each year, from early June up to early November. Since the road passes through Hakusan National Park, it is closed at night in the interests of nature conservation. The road can also be closed when weather conditions are bad, including in times of rain, fog, and wind. It’s essential to do some research beforehand to ensure you get the most out of your visit.
The White Road passes the area containing the spiritual mountain Hakusan. Its peak reaches an altitude of 2,702 meters and it is counted as one of Japan’s three spiritual mountains, along with Mt Fuji and Mt Tateyama. In the summer, there is an abundance of ‘Kuroyuri’ (Black lily), the flower of Ishikawa prefecture, and you might also see Inuwashi (golden eagle), the bird of Ishikawa prefecture.
Although there are always people who wish to walk the White Road instead of driving, safety rules mean during its in-service period, pedestrians are not allowed access to the road. There are, however, certain specially appointed days when it is open exclusively for pedestrians. Every year, over 8,000 participants gather from all across the country to enjoy a 10-kilometer round-trip walk taking in the magnificent landscape. The walking route includes the sights of ‘Jadani Hakkei’ (eight spots of Snake Valley) and ‘Fukube no Ohtaki’ (the large Fukube waterfall) with its drop of 86 meters. There is also the ‘Ubagataki’ waterfall, listed as one of Japan’s best 100 waterfalls. A hot spring emerges from ‘Ubagataki’ and is a popular spot for taking a bath and also as a foot bath for tired feet! There are various kinds of native grass along the way to catch visitors’ eyes. And Hakusan Onsenkyo (Hakusan hot spring village) spring mountain marquee market is where you can find all of Hakusan’s wild vegetables and specialties gathered. This is held at the same time as the walking event and enjoys a good reputation as an event for people to enjoy during the early summer holiday. The 2015 event was held on June 13th. There is also a trekking tour lasting roughly two hours that aims to reach Sanpou Iwadake, the peak of the White Road at an altitude of 1,736 meters. The guided trekking tour starts from Ren-nyo Chaya teahouse car park. There is also a guided bus tour that leaves from Kanazawa train station, meaning that it’s possible to visit the road without having to worry about the driving.
How to get to Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road from Kanazawa
From Kanazawa, take the Hokuriku motorway from Kanazawa west interchange and continue driving until you reach Chugu toll gate, which is the entrance to the Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road.