Hakusan Shirakawa-gō White Road: A Great Route for Fall Foliage Fans

Guide to Japan

Hakusan Shirakawa-gō White Road, a 33.3-kilometer toll road, extends from the city of Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, to the village of Shirakawa, Gifu Prefecture, known for the charming collection of traditional farmhouses with thatched roofs in the hamlet called Shirakawa-gō, a World Heritage site. The route passes through a mountainous area at elevations of 600 to 1,450 meters, and it offers views of Mount Haku (Hakusan), which rises to a height of 2,702 meters. This road is especially popular in the fall, when visitors can enjoy the bright reds and yellows of autumn foliage carpeting the valleys, along with close-up views of celebrated waterfalls.

The roadway is dotted with parking areas at major attractions.  Drivers should be sure to stop at the Hakusan Observatory, where they and their passengers can enjoy a splendid view of Mount Haku. At other stops along the way, in addition to enjoying the views from lookout points, people can stretch their legs and delight in the natural surroundings, including the area’s vast Japanese beech forests. The area through which the road passes also boasts a number of impressive waterfalls. Because of the range of elevations, the leaves turn at different times, and so visitors can enjoy autumn foliage for a period extending from early October through November 10, when the road closes for the winter. And if they are lucky, they may see Mount Haku capped with snow and floating above a sea of clouds.

The official website of the Hakusan Shirakawa-go White Road offers a variety of information in English, Chinese, and Korean, including point-by-point descriptions of the attractions along the route. During the foliage season, bus tours departing from Kanazawa take visitors via this road to Shirakawa-gō and on to Gokayama (another area featuring traditional farmhouses) in Nanto, Toyama Prefecture, and Hida-Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, a popular spot among visitors from abroad.

(Originally published in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Kanazawa Cable Television.)

Shirakawa-gō Ishikawa tourism nature autumn foliage Hokuriku Gifu Mount Haku (Hakusan)