The Hakusan Shirakawa Go White Road in the Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan is a toll road you’ll happily pay for. One lane each way (many mountain roads in Japan are one lane both ways), epic scenery, and smooth tarmac from what can be derived by examining Google Maps.
Starting at the western end of the toll road you’ll cut through some trees before the landscape opens out in front of you. One can only imagine what the tree line mountains would look like in autumn but ‘stunning’ would have to be a good guess.
The road embarks down in to the Hakusan National Park with challenging winding roads already in front of you as you follow the river below to the left. Straight line the corners if you must but you’re missing out on all the fun! The first of many tunnels greets you but beware metal grates before which may be damp and unsettle a car let alone a motorcycle.
Careful as you come out the other side as the road winds right the left onto a bridge and then past Sanmmata Daiichi Power Station where the corner open just a little bit.
More tunnels await where you could only imagine what a supercar would sound like. Windows down please!
Now the road is starting to open up a bit more as it follows the river bed and past the Chugu Osen Visitor Center and Museum before arriving at the toll booth. Immediately after the toll booth the road starts to wind upwards. Keep an eye out to your left for Shiritakadaki waterfall. Not long after, look to your right for the another greeting you and running down the mountain and underneath the road.
Now it’s time to enjoy the twists and turns again before carefully rolling over the bridge.
Try not to be awestruck by the beauty of it all with more waterfalls running down next to the road on the left before entering yet another tunnel! Blast out the other side and it’s effectively the same ingredients served over and over: nice tarmac, waterfalls, tunnels, beautiful flora, mountains. But there is also a resting place which deserves a stop for its magnificent views.
The very pretty Ubagataki waterfall will be on your right with onlookers walking the side of the road so be sure to keep an eye out, or even stop yourself. Or just blast through the tunnel!
The road keeps winding and is quite open offering good visibility but still with challenging corners and more tunnels to ‘deal with’. One of the coolest scenes is see the tunnel up ahead but also the tunnel above it, where you’ll end up shortly.
You’ll soon arrive at what looks like a hairpin but it’s worth a stop as Fukube-no-otaki waterfall is right before you (along with plenty of sightseers no doubt). On we go up the hill with more tunnels to entertain you and beautiful scenery to the left. Just try not to get stuck behind a Prius…
The road will continue to wind up now with a great mix of tight and medium corners while giving good visibility of where you’re headed and where you’ve been. It would be all too easy to start hammering around but you’d be missing that epic view.
The rhythm left and right is unrelenting at this stage so hopefully your passenger, if you have one, is well tuned to mountain passes!
As you’re climbing higher and higher, depending on the season you’re likely to encounter snow and it starts to get very pretty.
There’s a reason there are plenty of barriers on the side of the road as it has the potential to be quite slippery. At least with a lot of the corners they can be quite open allowing you to see the oncoming traffic.
Work your way around with plenty of corners to attack if you’re brave. Never a dull moment on Hakusan Shirakawa Go White Road! And if you do feel tired there’s a resting spot right by the wide left hand hairpin.
Lose the Prius and the road is yours with another cracking left hand hairpin which can be easily sighted. Now we are winding down the mountain with more flora making a return.
Winding down, winding down, you’ll eventually reach a weird split hairpin the likes I’d never seen before but making complete sense.
Winding down, winding down on smooth tarmac it would be tempting to push a little bit especially if you’re a downhill specialist. It’s about this time you’ll be praying for a straight bit of road. And some new brake pads.
Reaching the toll point you may say that the road has seen the best bits and with Shirakawa-go featuring Insta-worthy traditional Gassho-style farmhouses, it’s the perfect place to stop, get out, and enjoy.