We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Japan Alps 3 day itinerary help?! Where to stay?

Level Contributor
117 posts
9 reviews
Save Topic
Japan Alps 3 day itinerary help?! Where to stay?

My husband and I are travelling to Japan in mid-September.

We want to see Kanazawa,Takayama, Shirahone Onsen and any great scenery and/or more remote places that we can fit in - but I'm struggling to see where to book accommodation in the most sensible distances along the way.

We are planning to leave Kyoto on a Monday morning and need to reach Tokyo by Thursday night. We will have JR passes so will catch the train to Kanazawa, hire a car one way and leave it in Takayama, then get the train from there.

I have been looking for accommodation in 3 separate bases - one night Kanazawa, one Shirahone/Kamakotchi and one in Takayama, but I suspect distances aren't that far so maybe that is a bit ridiculous?

Please could someone suggest the best option? I'm reading all I can but struggling with so many ideas.

Any special accommodation suggestions also welcome - we're mostly looking at basic ryokans but can push the boat out for occaisional treats :-)

Thanks in advance!

Kyoto, Japan
Level Contributor
1,738 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: Japan Alps 3 day itinerary help?! Where to stay?

Although we may have bus lines, from Kyoto to Kanazawa, JR train is much faster:


Leave Kyoto via JR Thunderbird to Kanazawa.


Kanazawa is my mother's home town: she took me out when I was a kid to Kenrokuen Park.


Other option to walk around is:



As you like to locate the bus, access to Takayama via JR train is not very easy since you will need to change trains two times on local lines. The Japan guide recommends you to take the bus line via Shirakawago.


You may stop by Shirakawago where is a historical mountain village:



Nouhibus also has a Takayama – Matsumoto Line via Hirayu.


There are a number of shuttle bus from Shirahone to Kamikouchi for your promenade.


Woops, You like to come to Shirahone:

Sorry English page does not have a timetable! It is paraphrased in English and Roman. Be careful, only three buses are available.


Rokans are not exactly economical, but with two japanese meals:You may choose carefully.


Hirayu may have more options according to TA:


You can select hotels or Business Hotel(small room hotel) in Matsumoto and Kanazawa. In Takayama, tourist frendly accomodation should be available since many of you people come to Takayama.


Leave Matsumoto via JR train to Tokyo.

Level Contributor
117 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Japan Alps 3 day itinerary help?! Where to stay?

Thanks SanFran for your reply - I will have a look now at those links :-)

but I think you misunderstood my question - we are happy to hire a car for the three days, i am just not sure how to long to spend in each place, and which towns to book accommodation in - to avoid going back on ourselves?


Kyoto, Japan
Level Contributor
1,738 posts
1 review
Save Reply
3. Re: Japan Alps 3 day itinerary help?! Where to stay?

Are you? WOOPS, I am sorry missed the sentence. Why dont you keep your car to Matsumoto? Your drive here is the same way drive as you do in London. Kanazawa to Takayama is just about two hours if you do not stop by Shirakawago.


However, you will be unable to drive to Kamikochi.


The English page does not tell you that the tunnel to Kamikouchi has the restriction for private cars to go through. They are not allowed us to drive to Kamikouchi. Hopefully you can a find parking spot at Hirayu.

Other concern is the drop off rate here. I often have a car in California. The dropoff in California and Nevada is normally free. In Japan, it is not cheap.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Tohoku, Hokkaido
Level Contributor
6,870 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Japan Alps 3 day itinerary help?! Where to stay?

If you are keeping the car for 3 days and don’t mind the additional drop-off charge, consider the following route.

On day 1 drive down from Kanazawa to Takayama and take in Ainokura, Kaminashi, Suganuma, Gokayama Gassho no Sato and Shirakawa-go before bedding down in Takayama.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5955.html (Ainokura)

http://www.shokoren-toyama.or.jp/~gokayama/kan/map/kn.html (Kaminashi)

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5954.html (Suganuma)

http://www.gokayama.jp/gassho/index.html (Gokayama Gassho no Sato)

http://shirakawa-go.org/kankou/ (Shirakawa-go)

Since you may not have time to tour around Takayama on day 1, use day 2 mainly for Takayama and spend the night in Shin-hotaka. Hopefully you can also squeeze in a ride on the unique double-decker ropeway for a panoramic view of the Japanese Alps.





On day 3 go to Kamikochi, but as mentioned direct access in not possible. You have to leave your car at a designated parking lot and take a connecting shuttle bus. After Kamikochi drive to Shirahone Onsen and spend the night there. Awanoyu is THE place to go for in Shirahone.


On day 4 before returning the car in Matsumoto and taking JR to Tokyo, use the day time to go to Norikura Kogen for more spectacular natural scenery. If you are lucky enough you may see some early autumn foliage although late Sept to early Oct is said to be a better time for koyo there. Note that again you can’t drive directly up the plateau but have to take a connecting bus like Kamikochi.




Level Contributor
117 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Japan Alps 3 day itinerary help?! Where to stay?

Thanks both - I will have another look when I get a chance later today.

I think that now we will stay:

Day 1 - Train Kyoto - Kanazawa

Overnight Kanazawa

Day 2 - hire car, drive through villages, Shiwakago etc

overnight Takayama

Day 3 - Takayama, Kamikochi

overnight Kamikochi

Day 4 - return car Matsumoto, train to Tokyo

Just need to figure out our hotel choices, but have been in touch with a couple already


6. Re: Japan Alps 3 day itinerary help?! Where to stay?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 02 August 2014, 14:18