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


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.


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=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.


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=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


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).

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

  1. 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:

      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.


      Takeshi /

      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.


          Takeshi /

          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:


            Takeshi /

  2. 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.

      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.


      Takeshi /

  • Your comment will not be shown until I approve.
  • 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.
  • 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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