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.
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|
|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
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.
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”
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.
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).