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Best Route by car

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Best Route by car


We are visiting Japan (again!) and will be renting a car at the Narita airport and driving to Yudanaka, Shirakawago and have reservations at Takakaragawa as the final stop.

Driving from the Narita airport, is it better to go to Yudanaka or Shirakawago first to avoid backtracking? Is there an online map of these areas?

Thanks very much for any help.

Tokyo, Japan
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1. Re: Best Route by car

You best way is to take the Kanetsu Exwy and then you a have a few choices - its really just how you want to drive.

One way take the Kanestu to Fujioka IC, then Joetsu Highway to Shinshu Nakano IC, then the local prefectural highway 292 to Yudennaka.

You can then double back to Kanetsu Shibukawa IC by pref highway and north on the Kanetsu to Minakami IC to Takaragawa (I assume thats where you want to go)

Of course this will be confusing - even Japanese get confused.

Your best bet for success and low frustration is to get a car navi in your rental car and input the phone number of your destination. The car navi will get you there, just follow the arrows. Alternative you will need a paper map - lots available in Japanese, and I think there is an English atlas available, but it will be out of date.

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2. Re: Best Route by car

Thank you! But I'm not sure of your answer - is it better to drive to Yudanaka first and then to Yudanaka .... or to Shirakawago first and then on to Yudanaka, keeping in mind that the final destination is Takakaragawa?

I am hoping not to, for example, go to Yudanaka first and then discover that Shirakawago, the next stop, is many miles in the opposite direction from Takakaragawa.

Thank you very much for directions - I have printed them and we will get a map when we arrive. Your directions will be an excellent starting point.

Tokyo, Japan
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3. Re: Best Route by car

Yes, can take the Chuo expy/Nagano expy via Matsumoto to Shirakawago, then double back to Minakami via Matsumoto again. Back to Tokyo on the Kanestsu after Takaragawa.

You could avoid doubling back by taking a long detour route via Toyama and Joetsu to Minakami.

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4. Re: Best Route by car


Do you mean Yudanaka Onsen(湯田中温泉) in Nagano pref., Shirakawago(白川郷) in Gufu pref.. then Takaragawa Onsen(宝川温泉) in Gunma pref. right?

You may know the distance and direction by google map.

from Narita(A) to Yudanaka(B), Shirakawago(C) then Takaragawa(D).


total 988km, 13hour34min. (driving only)

from Narita(A) to Shirakawago(B), Yudanaka(C) then Takaragawa(D).


total 821km, 14hour16min. (driving only)

You had better make reserve for each destination and stay there respectively.

Seattle, Washington
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5. Re: Best Route by car

The best road atlas I've used for driving in Japan is this one:


available from amazon.com and all kinds of online vendors. It's pricey, and more info than you want, but it's a good reference for the big picture. It is NOT particularly good for navigating within larger cities.

I would go to Shirakawago first, your westernmost destination. I'd do it via Matsumoto, on the Chuo/Nagano expressway, but then you'll backtrack back to Matsumoto to head north to Yudanaka. It's a pretty drive and you'll hit Takayama in the middle between Matsumoto and Shirakawago.

The other way to get to Shirakawago is to take the Tomei to Nagoya and then north.

If you have a lot of time and feel adventurous, from Shirakawago try to find your way to the Kiso Valley, rte 19, which will lead you back up to Lake Suwa and from there to Matsumoto. I have done this but I don't have my atlas available to tell you which roads.

From Matsumoto you can proceed east again to Takaragawa.

It's easier to get the whole picture when looking at a map. I'd advise you at least get one for Honshu to do some planning.

And also from Narita airport to Shirakawago is a long drive. I think it would take eight hours or so.

6. Re: Best Route by car

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