To really explore the area, rent a car in Kanazawa or Toyama to make the loop of the Noto Peninsula at your own pace. Another good driving route is between Kanazawa and Takayama via Shirakawa-go.
An economy-size car costs about ¥8,000 per day or ¥50,000 per week. Reserve the car in a city like Kanazawa, Nagano, or Matsumoto, or before you leave Tokyo, Nagoya, or Kyoto—not many people speak English in rural Japan. Tollways are convenient but expensive and less scenic than the many beautiful national roads in the region.
In winter certain roads through the central Japan Alps are closed, and the road into Kamikochi is inaccessible from November through April.