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Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass

Holding a snowball for the very first time

This trip has been an amazing one because it was my first time seeing everything being covered in snow despite it being the peak of autumn, guess when you are in the mountain side area regardless of the seasons it's always colder than usual.
And it's about the peak of winter right now, so if you guys are traveling to Japan within this month make sure to bundle up and stock up on heat techs (buy in Japan, it's cheaper than getting in Malaysia probably about 580yen) I'll be heading back again very soon so best i cough up this post first before it gets added on to my never ending list of blogpost drafts lol.




Probably one of my 2018 resolutions is to start a clean slate and remove all my drafts (since 2015) and always update my blog by the end of the day if possible but i might end up having to sacrifice my sleep in order to keep my blog active lol. It's alright, sleep can be earned back later anyways but memories from each experience doesn't stay in my brain forever that's why i need to pen them down here before it's long forgotten. That also reminds me that my next upcoming post would be answering your questions on how to make your Japan photos into lovely memorable postcards, as usual if you are new (welcome to my humble blog!) have not subscribed to my blog yet please click subscribe to get notifications on my latest post and i promise there are no spams as i only update my blog at least 1-2 times a week lol.



Exploring this part of Japan, was also part of my quest to visit all 47 prefectures (thanks for the inspiration mama Cheesie) and i feel so blessed for this opportunity to visit Hokuriku region which is home to prefectures like Fukui, Gifu, Kanazawa, Toyama and cities like Takayama, Shirakawa-Go and Hida. When mentioned the places above all covered within 5 days one would think about the travel expenses to get from one place to another and we all know how costly Japan's transportation are in general regardless it's train, bus or cab. Luckily for us tourists there are various passes we can get from JR and other transport lines as an effort to promote and boost Japan's tourism.


Mitarashi Dango is famous in Takayama as it's taste is slightly different from what you usually get.


One of these passes is Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass, this pass is best used during winter because if you are planning to visit Gifu's national heritage site- Shirakawa Go  (白川郷)'s Ogimachi village, during winter there are illuminations and everything is blanketed in a thick layer of white snow against the old solid wooden farmhouses. It's a beautiful contrast between nature and mankind.


Winter illuminations starts during mid January till mid February every year 


But remember to dress warmly, wear seriously like 2-3 layers of heat tech because it can get extremely cold during the night, wouldn't want to get numb limbs and nasty frost bites while taking photos.





Benefits of Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass


1. Unlimited rides on JR conventional lines

This comes in very handy when you are getting around from one city to another and in between the shinkansen rides you'll need to use some of the local JR lines to transfer.


2. Unlimited rides on the Hokuriku Shinkasen

Best part of the pass is that it allows you to ride on the shinkasen (Hokuriku line) UNLIMITED TIMES, i recall departing from Kyoto to Kanazawa and from Kanazawa back to Kyoto (2 hrs+ ride each way) and each ride costs about 6,900 yen (x2) = 13,800 yen alone for this route! And this calculation alone does not count the other shinkasen rides i took from one prefecture to another throughout the 5 days.


Ideal map provided:

Kyoto → Fukui → Kanazawa → Toyama → Takayama → Gero → Nagoya


Didn't manage to stop by Gero this round, heard that the onsen there is amazing but to be honest any part of Japan is definitely bound to be amazing lol, it's Japan and you can't go wrong.



3. Save alot of Money

So here is a breakdown of the total costs sitting the thunderbird express alone if you follow the entire route which is suppose to land you in Nagoya as your final destination (mind you that i skipped the last step as i had to return to Kyoto).

Kyoto

Takayama


My trip:

Kyoto station → Kanazawa Station (6,900yen) → Fukui station (3020yen) → Kanazawa station (3020yen) → Toyama station (3330yen) →Kanazawa station (3330yen)  → Takayama station (6650yen) → Shirakawa Go (2470yen) → Kanazawa station (1850yen) → Kyoto station (6,900yen)


Total cost: 34,450 yen
Savings: 20, 450yen

This is an almost accurate cost of the entire journey, minus some private line rides that i've taken while i was in Fukui and Kurobe Gorge (click to read my previous posts!).


Fukui

Toyama, Kurobe Gorge

Save about to RM700+ on transport alone, and the initial costs was close to RM1300 but i only paid less than RM500!


Purchase Tips: Look out for Matta fairs in KL as you can get these passes at a discounted price!


4. Free Nohi bus rides 



This bus takes you to and fro to Shirakawa Go and they have a schedule for it which you can refer to their website for any updates. I would highly advise to go to their office first thing in the morning to redeem your bus tickets as we are not allowed to reserve/ redeem it online if we are using the Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist pass.
However if you are not redeeming, purchasing online in advance is possible. Try to secure your passes earlier because seats are subject to availability, Nohi bus leaves almost every 1-2 hours and the pass redemption is valid for departures in Kanazawa or Gifu (Takayama).


Nohi Bus station, Takayama

I took mine from Takayama station, the Nohi Bus office is just beside it and i stayed opposite the station at Relax Hostel Takayama Station (super comfortable, affordable & convenient).


My whole nohi bus route was 
Takayama → Shirakawa Go → Kanazawa



Most people would recommend staying the night at Shirakawa Go for a proper experience but do take note that majority ryokans in general do no accept single person reservations, minimal at least 2 people. However you can select options like a dorm for backpackers nearby.
I'll come back here again to see the illuminations and stay in one of their ryokan for at least a night (someday), just need to drag some friends along lol.


5.  Flexible Travel Routes

Something you don't get to do with tour groups or alone especially without a pass because it would be too expensive to risk it.
See, even though they provided a route layout, sometimes travelers prefer it free and easy especially when you are traveling alone without any exact plans, then passes like these gives you the freedom to move around the designated routes according to your own last minute decision (mood la basically). Wish the pass was 7 days long instead of 5 days so that we can spend a week here visiting each stop on a slightly leisure pace instead of rushing around like i did lol. But IT IS POSSIBLE to cover Osaka, Kyoto, Fukui, Kanazawa, Toyama, Gifu, Gero and Nagoya within 5 days, just spend half day on each location (literally touch & go experience) and the most you can do is hang within 2km of the station radius as you'll spending alot of time on the train traveling from one city to another. At least you'll get a quick beautiful glimpse of Japan's scenery on the high speed train.



 Bridge to enter into the village, it was scary for me because i'm afraid of heights T_T

My little snowman lol


So here a 5 main reasons why you should get the Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass, you'll finally get to explore this part of Japan too instead of just one area (most people go to gifu is for Hida- Kimi no Na Wa landmark and Shirakawa Go). Hokuriku is indeed a stunning mountain side region with many spectacular nature view to offer and i believe that everyone should take the time to explore other parts of it that are lesser traveled by tourists (the saying goes when in Rome do what Romans do) and usually only locals would know of.


Kimi no Na Wa station in Hida


Hope you guys found this post super useful for your upcoming Japan trip! :)


Takayama Hokuriku Area Tourist Pass is available at your nearest JTB branch in Malaysia.

List of JTB Kuala Lumpur Outlets:


JTB AMODA (HQ)
Address: Unit 16.05-16.07, Level 16, Amoda 22, Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Opening Hours: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm (Monday – Friday)
Tel: (EN) +60 3-2141 9991


JTB KLCC

Address: Event Hall 2nd Floor, Isetan KLCC, Suria KLCC, 50088 Kuala Lumpur
Opening Hours: 10:30 am – 8:30 pm (Daily, including Public Holidays)
Tel: (EN) +60 3-21817626

JTB LOT10
Address: Cube_2, 3rd Floor Isetan the Japan Store, 50 , Jalan Sultan Ismail, Bukit Bintang, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
Opening Hours: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm (Daily, including Public Holidays)
Tel: (EN) +60 3-2110 6304


 
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