Limited Express Kusatsu, most convenient access to Kusatsu-Onsen from Ueno, Tokyo

651 series was introduced instead of older 185 series. (C) 651 series K106 Kusatsu Miyahara  - ja:User:細谷侑希 (Yuki Hosoya) - ja:File:651series Kusatsu.jpg
651 series was introduced instead of older 185 series. (C) 651 series K106 Kusatsu Miyahara – ja:User:細谷侑希 (Yuki Hosoya) – ja:File:651series Kusatsu.jpg

Kusatsu (草津) is operated between Ueno (上野) and Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi (長野原草津口) and Manza-Kazawaguchi (万座・鹿沢口). Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station is the nearest station to one of most famous hot springs resort, Kusatsu. JR Bus Kanto operates the shuttle bus between this station and Kusatsu Onsen.

This train, Limited Express Kusatsu and shuttle bus to Kusatsu by JR Bus Kanto are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.

Route, schedule and travel time

Kusatsu is operated between Ueno and Manza-Kazawaguchi. The number of trips are 2 round trips on weekdays and 1 more round trip on weekend.

View Limited Express Kusatsu in a larger map


Ueno (上野) x
Akabane (赤羽) x
Urawa (浦和) x
Omiya (大宮) x
Ageo (上尾) *
Kumagaya (熊谷) x
Fukaya (深谷) *
Honjo (本庄) *
Takasaki (高崎) x
Shin-Maebashi (新前橋) x
Shibukawa (渋川) x
Nakanojo (中之条) x
Gunmaharamachi (群馬原町) *
Kawarayu-Onsen (川原湯温泉) x
Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi (長野原草津口) x
Manza-Kazawaguchi (万座・鹿沢口) x

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop

Connection to the JR Bus to Kusatsu Onsen

The bus service to Kusatsu Onsen from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station is operated by JR Bus Kanto. This bus service is completely covered by Japan Rail Pass. Several buses are dispatched for the arrival of Limited Express Kusatsu. It is very well connection between train and bus. Please see the details at How to access to Kusatsu Onsen. Japan Rail Pass covers all part of trip to Kusatsu.


Kusatsu is operated by 651 series. This train used to be operated by 185 series. But 185 series is very old and is used for seasonal operation only.

651 series has very nice interior. Especially in Green car, seat layout is 2+1 configuration. The seat pitch is 1160mm. In Ordinary cars, it is JR East standard that are 2+2 seat layout and 910mm seat pitch.

185 series was designed for all purpose. That means this series was expected to use for not only limited express but also rapid and local train. It was sometimes used for a local train. The accommodation was a bit less than the standard of other fleet for limited trains. Interior was renovated and comfortableness is much better than when this train was introduced. So that this train was expected to use for local train, this is only trains for limited express that has a window you can open.

The seat pitch in Green seat is 1160mm. It is the standard size of most JR trains. But the seat configuration is 2+2. It is same configuration as ordinary class. The seat is okay but it is not reached to the standard of green class seat.

The seat pitch in Ordinary seat is 910mm. It is very common ordinary class seat.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.

651 series train formation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

R=Reserved ordinary seat NR=Non-Reserved ordinary seat G=Green car seat

651 series Images

Green Car's Seat of JR 651 - Lover of Romance Ordinary seat of JR 651 651 series ordinary class interior

Photo credit for above interior photos
Green Car’s Seat of JR 651 – Lover of Romance
Seat of JR 651 – Lover of Romance
JRE-651syanai – ゆりのき橋

Limited Express Kusatsu is operated by one of the oldest model, 185 series. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

185 series train formation (seasonal operation)

1 2 3 4 5 6

R=Reserved ordinary seat NR=Non-Reserved ordinary seat

185 series Images

Green seat

Ordinary seat

Sanitary space

Entrance deck and common space

26 thoughts on “Limited Express Kusatsu, most convenient access to Kusatsu-Onsen from Ueno, Tokyo”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I do not have a JR Pass and do not plan on buying one.
    How much would a trip to Kusatsu Onsen cost?

    Thank you

    1. Hi David,

      You can find the fare for train from Tokyo to Naganoharakusatsuguchi in Hyperdia. The fare is varied by the type of train, type of seat and departure day. Please see the link below about Hyperdia:

      You can take a bus from Naganoharakusatsuguchi to Kusatsu Onsen. The fare is 690 yen one way.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    I am planning to go to travel from Tokyo to Kusatsu Onsen and have a one night stay then return to Tokyo.

    What would be the cheapest way to travel there.
    I saw that there is a LTD Kusatsu Express Bus that would take abour 4 hours and cost around 3000 YEN.

    Could you please advise?
    Thank you

  3. Hello,

    I am looking to make a reservation online to go from Ueno to Nakanojo in May but am having a very hard time finding a way to make reservations for the JR Express Kusatsu line. Do you know how I could do that?

    1. Hi Sierra,

      Unfortunately you cannot book for this train online.
      JR East online reservation is only way to book online. But this site does not cover limited express Kusatsu. You have to book it after you arrive in Japan.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi Takeshi San,

    I would like to go to Kashiwaya Ryokan in Gunma. On the website it says that I can take Direct Express Kusatsu from Ueno to Nakanojo Station. I would like to know the price from Ueno – Nakanojo but I’m having a hard time to find it. Could you please help me? Thank you 🙂

  5. Hi Takeshi-San,
    I change my itinerary in this area, could you please give me some advice.

    Day 1 matsumoto – Nagano /obuse overnight

    Day 2 Nagano -kusatsu via takasaki and naganohara (fully covered by jr all pass , right?) overnight in taka saki.

    Day 3 from takasaki day trip to niigata via echigoyuzawa by toki train.
    Overnight in takasaki.

    Day 4 takasaki -karuizawa -Ueno. Stay in ueno for 2 nights before heading back home.

    Between echigo-yuzaw and niigata am I able to go and back both by taking the toki train? In that case I have about 3hrs in niigata, is that ok to stroll around in town?

    Takeshi-San, Could you also please tell me what transport options from ueno to nakada airport.


    1. Hi Joe san,

      I don’t see any issues on your plan. It looks okay.

      Do you mean Genbi Shinkansen between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata. Actually all Shinkansen trains to/from Niigata are called Toki. Anyway you can take Genbi Shinkasnen both. But you don’t need to take it both ways. One way may be okay. There are lots of other ordinary Toki from Niigata to Takasaki. If you take it from Echigo-Yuzawa to Niigata and are satisfied, you can take ordinary Toki to go back to Takasaki. You may have more time in Niigata.

      But Niiagata does not have many places to see. Actually I have never had sightseeing in Niigata. 3 hours is enough in my opinion.

      At last, do you mean Narita airport from Ueno. If so, Keisei railway connects these places directly.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi-San,

        Thanks for your reply.
        Yes, I mean genbi shinkansen, I can only see toki in timetable, is toki 451 (8:24), 453 (12:44) , 455 (15:20) depart from echigo-yuzawa the Genbi Shinkansen ? Apart from niigata do you recommend any stops along the line or anything interesting around echigo-yuzaw ?

        Sorry I mean from ueno to Haneda Airport.

        From shirahama to matsumoto, I know it’s a long trip.
        I check HyerDia and Google for the same route(shirahama – shin-osaka -Nagoya -matsumoto ) , Google being one hr faster for the whole journey by taking tokaido-sanyo shinkansen from Shin-osaka to nagoya, does it mean this shinkansen is the fastest one that not covered by the jr pass?
        Do you know any better route than this one?

        Cheers Takeshi-San

      2. One more question, Takeshi-San.
        Can I reserve the Genbi Shinkansen once I arrive in japan?
        Apart from Genbi, there are more popular trains, like lbusuki’s玉手箱, 海幸山幸, Aso etc that I’m looking for, can I reserve them all at once?


        1. Hi Joe san,

          There is no interesting place to Niigata. Just walk in the city of Niigata. That is only choice.

          You can book all trains at same time if you want. After you exchange the pass, you can book it.

          Ueno (Yamanote line) Hamamatsucho (monorail) Haneda is the best way.

          There is no better and faster way other than Shirahama-Shin Osaka-Nagoya-Matsumoto. You have to take Hikari from Shin-Osaka to Nagoya. Nozomi that is the fastest one is not covered.


          Takeshi /

          1. Thanks Takeshi-San, much appreciated.

            Is SL人吉still operate between kumamoto and hitoyoshi? How about aso boy? I heard that they have been stopped or change route. Are they both covered by the pass?


  6. Hallo Takeshi San…

    If I using JR Kanto Area Pass,

    Can I cover the area hitachi seaside park, kusatsu onsen and kawaguchiko

    Day 1, morning take train ueno take train to katsuta (hitachi seaside park) by JR Joban line stay for half day, afternoon to naganoharakusatsuguchi on LTD EXP Hitachi, Shinkansen Hakutaka, JR agatsuma line via UENO and TAKASAKI

    Day 2 travel back to UENO from naganoharakusatsuguchi via TAKASAKI on JR Agatsuma line and Shinkansen MAX TANIGAWA or ASAMA

    Day 3 day trip from UENO to Kawaguchiko via SHINJUKU on LTD EXP Narita Express

    Await for your advise and thanks a lot

  7. Hi Takeshi San

    Just to check with you … Does the Kanto Area pass cover the Limited Express Kusatsu train and shuttle bus to Kusatsu by JR Bus Kanto and Shinkansen ?

    Example of train from Kusatsu to Ueno :

    Time Route 17:30
    [87 Min] JR Agatsuma Line
    TAKASAKI [48 Min]
    UENO [ Arrival track No.21 ]

    Does the above trains all being covered by Kanto Area Pass ?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Chris,

      As I mentioned in previous reply, bus is not covered. All train trips to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi are covered.
      Japan Rail Pass covers bus service too, but Kanto Area Pass does not.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. 1) How can I reserve seats on Limted Express Kusatsu train online?
    The JR East Reservation website offers online reservation on shinkansens and some Limited Express, but I couldn’t find any options for the train.
    2) How can I reserve JR Bus Aomori-Towadako online?

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