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).

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

  1. Hi Takeshi-San,

    I will be using JR Pass for the trip from Omiya (Saitama) to Kinugawa Onsen by taking Ltd. Exp Spacia Kinugawa.

    Wondering if I can pay the extra fee and reserve my seat at any JR Office for the Spacia or do I need to go to Tobu Office?

    Also, Hyperdia mentions that the fee for Reserved Seat is 2,160 Yen. Wondering if that would be the extra fee that I have to pay?

    Thank you for the help.


  2. Hi Takeshi san,

    We will stay in Yokohama, can you advise how to get to Nikko from Yokohama Station. We will be using JR East South Pass (which we will use for travelling to Hakodate in the first few days).

    1) Is travelling to Omiya Station from Yokohama better and shorter route?
    2) Should I travel on JR Shonan Shinjuku Line to Shinjuku and take Shinkasen from Omiya? Do I need to pay for JR Shonan Shinjuku Line if I use the JR East-South pass?
    3) How about from Shin Yokohama to Tokyo? Is it advisable?

    As the journey is very long, we hope to use the shortest time to travel with the use of our JR East-South Pass appropriately for the last day.

    Cheers, Apple

  3. Hi there,

    Would like to check what’s the best way to get from Nagano to Nikko using the JR East pass. Hyperpedia showed that I could change to JR Nikko Line from UTSUNOMIYA for NIKKO, is this covered under JR EAST pass? Thanks!

    1. Hi Twong,

      You can take the following route:
      Nagano (Hokuriku Shinkansen) Omiya (Tohoku Shinkansen) Utsunomiya (Nikko line) Nikko

      All trips are covered by JR East Pass Nagano Niigata.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hello Takeshi-san,

    Im planning to arrive via narita, spend 1 nite at tokyo, and then going to : takayama (1 nite), kanazawa (1 nite), nikko (2nite), gala yuzawa (1nite), lake kawaguchi (1nite) and back again to tokyo (5nite),, what pass should i buy? I consider to buy both jr east nagano niigata and tokyo wide pass,, do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks a heaps =)

    1. Hi Vann san,

      JR Pass 7 days is the best deal. Because both Takayama and Kanazawa are not covered by either JR East Pass Nagano Niigata or Tokyo Wide Pass.

      I recommend you to use JR pass from 2nd day. You may add other deals for Narita-Tokyo round trip.

      You can get Otsuki via Tokyo when you go to Lake Kawaguchi by JR pass. After arriving Otsuki, you need to take Fuji Kyuko railway to Lake Kawaguchi. This segment from Otsuki to Lake Kawaguchi is not covered by JR pass.

      You can add subway pass in Tokyo after JR pass expired.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi,

    I would like to purchase Tokyo Wide Pass and travel to Nikko. Do I need to make reservation if I am going to take train from Shinjuku to Nikko?

    On the other hand, how to travel to Lake Kawaguchiko and do I need to make reservation as well?

    1. Hi Chandra,

      Reservation is not required but recommended. Please see the link below to find the info about how different between reserved and non reserved seat:

      Tokyo wide pass covers reserved seat fee.

      Please see the following link to find the info about access to Lake Kawaguchi.


      Takeshi /

  6. Hi Takeshi,
    Could you please explain the cost of the fare as quoted above, I will be travelling from Shinjuku to Niko accompanied by my wife and 13 yr old daughter. Does this mean we will each have to pay the basic fare of 970 yen plus the Express surcharge of 2,060 yen making it a total of 3030 yen? Also, is this one way only, if so does one get a discount for purchasing a return ticket?
    Your assistance in this will be much appreciated.
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Andre,

      Those fares above are extra fare in case that you use JR pass. If you purchase a single ticket, base fare and seat fee are around 2,000 yen each for one way. And also there is no return fare discount. You have to pay about 8,000 yen per person.

      If you have other trip than Nikko, Tokyo Wide Pass is better choice.

      It covers all fare and seat fee to Nikko. If you make one more trip to outside Tokyo, this deal is better choice than single fare.


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Takeshi,
        Thank you for getting back so soon. I was considering using the Limited Express line to Nikko, as this is convenient in that it departs from Shinjuku. I am trying to compare the cost of this option versus the cost of an additional week on the JR pass. However, if you state that there will be an additional cost of approximately 2,000 yen per person one way with the JR pass, then surely the Limited Express line will be more economical. Or am I missing something. What is the actual cost of the Limited Express line per person return. Sorry to be a nuisance. Thank you and kind regards. Andre.

  7. Dear Takeshi-San,

    Need to check with you regarding the Tokyo Wide Pass, is it covers to these places, such as Nikko, Kinugawa Onsen, Matsumoto and Fuji from Asakusa without any extra charges? as I’m a bit confused understanding it.

    Arigato gozaimasu

    1. Hi Rosita san,

      First of all, there is no JR stations in Asakusa. You have to take subway to get JR station. Usually Ueno is very close and most convenient station. You have to pay subway fare 170 yen. You need to pay whenever you leave Asakusa.

      If you go to Lake Kawaguchi area in Fuji, it’s covered. But if you go to Hakone area, this pass covers until you get Odawara.

      Matsumoto is outside coverage area. It’s not covered. You have to pay about 3000 yen extra for one way on top of the pass.


      Takeshi /

  8. Hi Takeshi

    Spending 8 days in Tokyo with my husband and 4-year old son (technically we have 6 days – minus the 2 days of travelling to and from Narita Airport). Staying in a hotel in Shinjuku. We have booked tours of 1-day tour of Tokyo, 1-day tour of Mount Fuji Hakone tour, 1 day pass of Disneyland and tickets to Glibli Museum tour. So that leaves us 2 free and easy days remaining. In your opinion, should we in include 1-day of Nikko World Heritage tour? Is it worth seeing with a kid in tow during the winter season (January)?


  9. Hi there.If I don’t have the any JR pass how much would it cost me to take the spacia nikko from shinjuku??Can I reserve seats online without one?if i was to get the Kinugawa Theme pass,would the 20% discount apply on this train?Please advise.Thank you.

    1. Hi Rosalinda,

      You can find the fare at Hyperdia:

      You can reserve your train ticket at the link below:

      If you intend to use Kinugawa Theme Park Pass, you cannot take any trains from Shinjuku. You have to get Asakusa. It includes train ticket between Asakusa and Kinugawa.


      Takeshi /

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