Direct access to Nikko from Shinjuku, Limited Express Nikko and Kinugawa

Tobu Railway Limited Express "Spacia" (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Tobu Railway Limited Express “Spacia” (C) Sonic Rail Garden

These trains connect Shinjuku (新宿) and Ikebukuro (池袋) in Tokyo with Nikko (日光) and Kinugawa-Onsen (鬼怒川温泉=Kinugawa hot springs resort). When I published the post, “How to get Nikko”, I did not mention these limited express trains. Because these trains are operated by Japan Railway East and Tobu Railway Co. and run through Tobu Railway line from Kurihashi (栗橋) to Nikko or Kunugawa-Onsen. That means you have to pay extra if you use Japan Rail Pass. But since I received many valuable comments from the visitors of this site, I know that some of Japan Rail Pass users do not hesitate to pay to get better service.

*The information in this article is current at the time of writing.

Anyway Japan Rail Pass official site mention that you need to pay the extra, but they don’t tell you the extra fare and any train informations. In this post, I will tell you how much the extra charge you pay to take these trains and show some images of the trains.

Route, schedule and trip time

Limited Express “Nikko” connects Shinjuku with Nikko in 2 hours. “Kinugawa” connects Shinjuku with Kinugawa-Onsen in 2 hours and 15 minutes. They have 1 round tiip to Nikko from Shinjuku and 3 trips to Kinugawa-Onsen from Shinjuku. But you will have a few more extra trips during the peak season and long weekend. You can check the most updated timetable at JR East official website.

to Nikko/Kinugawa Nikko/Spacia Nikko Kinugawa/Spacia Kinugawa
Shinjuku (新宿) x x
Ikebukuro (池袋) x x
Omiya (大宮) x x
Tochigi (栃木) x x
Shin-Shikanuma (新鹿沼) x x
Shimoimaichi (下今市) x x
Tobu Nikko (東武日光) x
Kinugawa Onsen (鬼怒川温泉) x

*The train name that has “Spacia” is operated by Tobu Railway’s car. That is way better. I will show you the images later.


View Limited Express Nikko and Kinugawa in a larger map

Fare

As you mentioned, these express train go through Tobu Railway line. So you need to pay the extra if you use Japan Rail Pass. If you use JR East pass, these trains are covered by the pass. You can take Niiko, Spacia Nikko, Kinugawa and Spacia Kinugawa without extra charge.

Basic fare 970 yen
Express Surcharge 2,060 yen
*as of July, 2015

If you don’t want to pay any extra charge, you can take Tohoku Shinkansen and Nikko line local train without any extra. Please refer the post, How to get Nikko. But if you want to go to Kinugawa-Onsen, you cannot get there by Japan Railway. You have to take Tobu Railway line anyway.

If you take “Spacia Nikko” or “Spacia Kinugawa”, these trains have Green seat. But it is Green compartment. Even Japan Rail Pass Green does not cover this seat. You have to pay full charge that is another 6,000yen per room. Nikko and Kinugawa do not have any Green seat.

Accommodation

Spacia Nikko and Spacia Kinugawa are operated by Tobu Railway car 100 series. Nikko and Kinugawa are operated by JR East refurbished 253 series. This 253 series was operated as Narita Express before. Actually Spacia that is serviced by Tobu Railway car is way better than JR East 253 series.

Nikko and Kinugawa by JR East 253 series

Refurbished 253 series replaced old 485 series in June 2011. (C) Sonic Rail Garden
1 2 3 4 5 6
R R R R R R

R=Reserved ordinary seat

It does not have any Green class in this car. These cars are refurbished and renovated, but these are more than 25 years old.

Interior

Sanitary space

Passenger’s deck and luggage space

JR East is going to use refurbished 285 series (link to wikipedia image) which used to be Narita Express and will stop using 485 series. It is better change. But Spacia is still better than 285 series.

Spacia Nikko and Spacia Kingawa by Tobu Railway 100 series “Spacia”

Tobu Railway 100 series Spacia
Tobu Railway 100 series Spacia
1 2 3 4 5 6
R R R R R GC

R=Reserved ordinary seat GC=Green compartment

Spacia has Green seat. But as I mentioned to you, Japan Rail Pass does not cover this green seat. Even the reserved ordinary class give you very comfortable seating. It has almost same comfortability as the regular green seat. This series usually is used for the scheduled Sapcia Kinugawa only. We cannot find any Spacia to Nikko. But in the peak season, you may have Spacia Nikko.

Ordinary seat Ordinary seat in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Ordinary seat in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Ordinary seat in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Ordinary seat in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Ordinary seat in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Ordinary seat in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa

Green compartment Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa

Washroom Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa Green compartment in Spacia Nikko and Kingawa

Reservation

JR East gives you online reservation. But you can reserve the seat between Shinjuku and Omiya only. Yes. It is useless. I guess JR East cannot handle this because the sections between Omiya and Nikko/Kinugawa-onsen are owned by Tobu Railway lines. So yo need to go to the ticket reservation window (=Midori-no-madoguchi=みどりの窓口).

58 thoughts on “Direct access to Nikko from Shinjuku, Limited Express Nikko and Kinugawa”

  1. Hi Takeshi…again…
    Can I take this itinerary with JR East Pass?
    5:30 PM

    Kosagoe Station
    Japan
    5:30 PM
    Kosagoe Station
    6:43 PM
    TrainTobu-Kinugawa Line区間快速Asakusa
    26 min (4 stops)
    Continue on the same vehicle
    TrainTobu-Nikko LineAsakusa
    44 min (11 stops)
    6:52 PM
    Shin-Tochigi Station
    7:26 PM
    TrainTobu-Nikko Line各停Minami-Kurihashi
    34 min (8 stops)
    7:50 PM
    Kurihashi Station
    8:52 PM
    TrainUtsunomiya Line各停Hiratsuka
    1 h 2 min (14 stops) · Platform 1,2
    8:59 PM
    Tokyo Station
    TrainChuo Line快速Toyoda
    14 min (4 stops) · Platform 1,2
    9:13 PM
    Shinjuku Station

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      Unfortunately you can’t. You can take only limited express train that goes to Shinjuku between Shimo-Imaichi and Kurihashi.
      You have two choices. The first one is taking limited express Nikko 84. You can catch this at Shimo-Imaichi at 17:09. You can take any local trains from Kosagoe to Shimo-Imaichi. But you need to leave around 16:30 at Kosagoe.

      The second option is the following route:
      Kosagoe (Tobu) Shimo-Imaichi (Tobu) Tobu-Nikko (walk 3 minutes) Nikko (JR Nikko line) Utusunomiya (JR Tohoku Shinkansen) Tokyo (JR Chuo line) Shinjuku

      If you take second option, there are many more trains and all trains are covered by JR East Pass.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi
    I am confused which pass to buy.
    I arrive into Haneda Airport and will be staying in Shinjuku. I want to do:
    a day trip to Edo Wonderland on a Saturday
    a day trip to Hakone on a Sunday
    a day trip to Kamakura on a Sunday
    I also will be travelling to Matsumoto on a Monday for 5 days and return to Tokyo on the Friday.
    I will have about 3 days sightseeing about Tokyo including Ghibli Museum.
    And need to get back to Haneda Airport.
    Is JR East pass the best one for me? But I’m confused with getting to Kosagae from Shinjuku with the JR East pass….as I don’t think Asakusa Express is not covered.
    Thanks so much in advance, Yvonne

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      JR East Pass Niigata and Nagano is the best choice for you.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/jr-east-pass-niigata-and-nagano-flex-5-days-pass-in-14-days-period-to-cover-kanto-region-nagano-and-niigata.html

      You may get Kosagoe by this pass. Take limited express train Kinugawa from Shinjuku in the post above. You can get off at Shimo-Imaichi and transfer to local train to Kosagoe. This trip is covered fully. You also can get Odawara, Kamakura and Matsumoto. But you have to add Hakone Free Pass or single fare after Odawara. Please see the link below:
      http://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        I input into hyperdia and came up with this itinerary- so JR East will cover all of trip? However when I used Google map it did give this option…why would that be? The earliest Google map would provide me would be a 9:30am arrival unlike Hyperdia’s 8:30am- which i prefer more. 8)

        05:48
        begin SHINJUKU(JR)

        [21 Min]
        through
        JR Yamanote Line(Outer loop) for OSAKI
        Train timetable | Interval timetable

        06:09
        06:15
        transfer NIPPORI
        Station timetable | Add to favorite
        ¥310

        [7 Min]
        through
        JR Joban Line Rapid Service for TORIDE
        Train timetable | Interval timetable

        06:22
        06:31
        transfer KITA-SENJU
        Station timetable |

        [104 Min]
        through
        Tobu Skytree Line Section Rapid for AIZUKOGEN-OZEGUCHI
        Train timetable | Interval timetable

        08:15
        08:17
        through SHIMO-IMAICHI
        Station timetable | Add to favorite
        ¥1,360

        [16 Min]
        through
        Tobu Kinugawa Line for AIZUKOGEN-OZEGUCHI

        08:33
        end KOSAGOE
        Also some of these Shinjuku-Kosagoe itineraries also include a section by Metro, could I still use the JR East pass for the JR and Tobu sections, and pay the surcharge for using Metro?
        Thanks again!!!
        Sorry for the bad formatting of the itinerary

        1. Hi Yvonne,

          Unfortunately this route is not covered by JR East Pass. The official site says:

          “The pass can be used for travel on local and rapid trains between Shimo-imaichi and Tobu-nikko/Kinugawa-onsen on Tobu Railway Lines. Between Kurihashi and Shimo-imaichi Stations, the pass may be used only on limited express trains that connect directly with Tobu Railway Lines.*”

          And also, the following condition is mentioned:
          Notes:
          *The JR EAST PASS (Nagano, Niigata area) may be used for Tobu Railway Lines as long as either the departing or destination station is on a JR line.

          So basically you can take all Tobu line trains between Shimo-Imaichi and Kinugawa Onsen. You cannot take Metro and Tobu railway rapid or local from Kitasenju. You need to take Limited Express train from Shinjuku.
          https://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/timetable/e_lex_tobu_d/index.html

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Hi Takeshi
            Thank you for being the guardian angel through all this!
            Ok can I pay to ride Kita-Senju to Shimo-iamchi and use the JR East pass for the other sections?
            Also the previous link showed the 7:30am from Shinjuku does not go to Kosagoe? Do I need to look at Tobu timetable to make the connection and look at the Tobu Kinugawa Line for AIZUKOGEN-OZEGUCHI? According to the link I could only make it to Kosagoe by 12:21pm or thereabouts…I really want to get to Edo Wonderland as early as possible, before 9am….maybe i need to consider a different pass? What do you suggest?
            Thanks- Yvonne

          2. Hi Yvonne,

            You can take this route if you pay extra as you think.
            If you take limited express at 7:30 from Shinjuku, you need to transfer at Shimo-Imaichi. Limited Express train does not stop at Kosagoe. There is train at 9:27 from Shimo-Imaichi to Kosagoe. You can get there at 9:46.

            If you take Kitasenju route, JR East Pass is not a right choice. But there is no better deal available either. The choice is very very limited to get Kosagoe from Tokyo before 9:00am.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

          3. Is this itinerary possible with JR East pass?
            7:20 AM
            Shinjuku Station
            7:29 AM
            TrainYamanote Line各停For Ikebukuro / Ueno (Clockwise)
            9 min (4 stops) · Platform 15
            7:36 AM
            Ikebukuro Station
            9:18 AM
            TrainNikko-KinugawaNikko 1特急Tobu-Nikko
            1 h 10 min (3 stops) · Platform 3
            Continue on the same vehicle
            TrainNikko-KinugawaNikko 1Tobu-Nikko
            31 min (2 stops)
            9:27 AM
            Shimo-Imaichi Station
            TrainTobu-Kinugawa Line各停Shin-Fujiwara
            19 min (4 stops)
            9:46 AM
            Kosagoe Station

          4. Yes, you can, Yvonne.
            But why don’t you take limited express train from Shinjuku? You don’t need to take Yamanote line to Ikebukuro. It’s just wasting time.

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. How much from Shinjuku to
    NIKKO direct train per person 1 way and 2 way if not JR Wide Area Pass ¥10,000. How much is the unlimited pass in Nikko per day. Please guide me, many thanks:)

      1. Hi
        Is JR Wide area pass ¥10,000 Kanto pass good for me – am going Nikko, MT. Fuji, Yokohama, KAMAKURA,
        Kawagoe 3 days trip from Shinjuku.
        Please guide me, many thanks:)
        Jun

        1. Hi Jun,

          You may use this pass. But it will be a bit tight to visit all places where you want. You will spend one full day for Nikko. Yokohama can be combined with Kamakura. One full day is recommended for Fuji. But you have to shorten and make some extra time to visit Kawagoe.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. This is my first time visiting Tokyo and using JR Tokyo Wide Pass – Kawagoe – 3 railways line going there via JR Kawagoe, Tobu and Seibu Railway – are they all cover by this
            JR Tokyo Wide Pass if Boarding from
            Shunjuku. Please advise me, many thanks 🙂

            Also can board from Shinjuku to Odaiba using this card too, please guide me, many thanks:)

            Have a nice day 🙂

          2. Thank you very much for your quick response 🙂
            So to confirm JR kawagoe line is cover by JR Tokyo wide area pass:) that I can board from Shinjuku to kawagoe, please advise.
            many thanks:)
            Jun

  4. Hello
    I am travelling to Nikko from Shinjuku for a 2 day trip (needing to return back to Shinjuku) from March 30 to April 1.
    It seems the direct express from Shinjuku is the best option.
    Would you agree?
    Could you help direct me to the best way to reserve x 2 seats?
    Many thanks!
    Ben

  5. Hello Takeshi,
    My family of 4 will be arriving at Haneda on 23 Dec at 0600 h.
    We wish to buy the New JR Wide Pass for 3 Days at Haneda when the counter opens at 0745.
    Somehow we plan to drop some of our bulky luggage at Skytree Station where our lodgings are, and take the Spacia Nikko or Spacia Kinu from Oshiage Station to Nikko. Apparently the new pass covers it. But I have some concerns:
    1. Is this even convenient/feasible?
    2. How to reserve the seats? (as I am aware they require reservations.) Considering I am leaving for Nikko the same morning that I buy the passes!

    1. Hi Herlina,

      Your plan is feasible but this route is not covered by Tokyo Wide Pass. If you take the train from Shinjuku, it’s covered. If you take a train, this is operated by only Tobu. You have to purchase single ticket or Tobu Railway deals.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/world-heritage-destinations/how-to-access-to-nikko-from-tokyo-there-are-three-ways-from-tokyo-shinjuku-and-asakusa.html

      I mentioned Kanto area pass in the link above. Tokyo Wide Pass has same condition as Kanto area pass.

      You cannot book Tobu railway train outside. You need to get Tobu railway station to book it.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  6. Hi Takeshi,
    i’m planning a trip at the end of this month. I would like to take the 7.30am spacia nikko directly. Can you assist me on :
    1. where to reserve tickets online and 2. if i can reserve online, do i have to go to the office to reserve and how many days earlier do i have to reserve?

    So sorry, but when i try to surf the internet, i am really confuse.

    Secondly, how should i plan my day if id like to visit lake chuzenji, keno falls, Shinkyo Bridge and at least Toshogu Shrine?

    thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Gwynne,

      If you mean Limited Express Nikko that departs from Shinjuku, you can book at JR East reservation site:
      http://www.eki-net.com/pc/jreast-shinkansen-reservation/English/wb/common/Menu/Menu.aspx?_ga=1.202227089.1090172892.1443854434

      You have to pick up at ticket at JR stations. Please see the details at FAQ in the link above.

      You may complete Lake Chuzenji and falls first. Toshogu and Sankyo are accessed from the station very easy. You can even walk to get these places from Nikko station.
      http://jprail.com/travel-informations/trip-report/2014-winter-aizu-nikko-hakone-tip/trip-to-aizu-nikko-and-hakone-in-2014-winter-part-10-sightseeing-in-nikko.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you for your reply Takeshi.

        So to clarify, should i get the JR pass or the JR east pass? can i also use it for the shinkansen from kyoto to tokyo?

        should i get the JR pass, i’m just curious to know if i can reserve seats on the shinkansen as well as the limited express nikko back to shinkansen.

        thank you.

        1. Hi Gwynne,

          JR East Pass does not cover Tokyo-Kyoto. JR pass covers Kyoto-Tokyo and round trip to Nikko from Tokyo. But total fares is still cheaper than JR Pass 7 days at 29100 yen. If you have one more trip outside Tokyo, like trip to Mt. Fuji, JR pass is cheaper. Otherwise single ticket is cheaper.

          You cannot book Shinkansen from Kyoto to Tokyo. You can book it at any major JR stations in advance after you arrive in Japan.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

          1. Thank you, once again.

            If i do not plan to get a JR pass, is there anywhere online i can buy spacia kegon that departs shinjuku?

            I’ve only seen All Nikko pass and 2 Day passes, and they all depart form asakusa. Do i have to buy the pass at the shinjuku counter a day earlier?

          2. Hi Gwynne,

            You still can use the site to book it without JR pass. By the way, train to Nikko from Shinjuku is not Spacia. It’s JR train set.
            And Spacia Kegon departs from Asakusa and it does not from Shinjuku. If you want to purchase All Nikko Pass, you have to go to Asakusa station and have to take a train from Asakusa. It does not cover train from Shinjuku. Please find more info at the link below:
            http://jprail.com/destinations/world-heritage-destinations/how-to-access-to-nikko-from-tokyo-there-are-three-ways-from-tokyo-shinjuku-and-asakusa.html

            Cheers,

            Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi Takeshi,
    I am planning for a day trip on 19-Nov-2015 from Shibuya station to both Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen (if possible).
    Here is my plan, please help and if it was you how would you have plan it?

    To Nikko & Kinugawa early morning.
    Shibuya station to Asakusa station (Metro Ginza yellow line)
    Asakusa – Nikko or Kinugawa Onsen ????
    These are the interests:
    Shinkyo Bridge & Futarasan Shrine, Edomura Kinugawa
    Optionals (if time permit): Kinugawa Onsen Koen Iwaburo, Lake Chuzenjiko, River cruise.

    Return to Shibuya station in the evening.
    Kinugawa Onsen – Asakusa station
    Asakusa station – Shibuya station

    Could you please help with these questions.
    1. Do you think this is feasible in 1 single day?
    2. Which pass should I buy or just use the SUICA all the way
    3. Should we start at Nikko first or Kinugawa Onsen then
    which do we take Spacia Nikko or Spacia Kinugawa?
    4. How do we get from/to Nikko & Kinugawa most efficiently.
    5. Can we buy/reserve a couple of days before at Shibuya station? or we must do that long before (online)?

    Thanks in advance and really appreciate for your help.
    Cheers, Thomas.

    1. Hi Thomas,

      1. Very tight, but not impossible.
      2. All Nikko Pass is recommended.
      http://jprail.com/destinations/world-heritage-destinations/how-to-access-to-nikko-from-tokyo-there-are-three-ways-from-tokyo-shinjuku-and-asakusa.html
      http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/pass/all_pass.html

      3. I think Nikko is better to visit first.
      4. Ride Tobu railway via Shimo-Imaichi.
      5. Please see the link about Nikko pass above.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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  • Please do not ask me to make your itinerary. Because I am not your personal travel agent. I am very happy to check your itinerary. But please try to make the plan by yourself. In this website, there are lots of resources to make your plan.
  • Please do not ask me about the access to your hotel. You can google your hotel and find it at hotel website or google map easily.
  • If you want to ask me which pass suits your plan, please tell me your detailed itinerary and location to stay. I cannot choose any deals without the detailed itinerary because I have to compare the total single fare and deals

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