Nikko access guide. Three routes from Tokyo, Shinjuku and Asakusa.

Nikko Toshogu shrine is one of the high lights in Nikko.
Nikko Toshogu shrine is one of the high lights in Nikko.

Nikko is one of the popular destinations from Tokyo. You can visit there as a day trip. Of course if you stay there, you can visit many places in outside of Nikko city and also can enjoy the hot spring in Kinugawa Onsen too.

There are several ways to get Nikko by train. In this post, I will show you how to get there and compare a few deals.


Please see the map below:

Nikko access map (click to enlarge)
Nikko access map (click to enlarge)

As you saw the map above, there are three ways to get Nikko.

  • The Tohoku Shinkansen + JR Nikko line — the average trip time 2 hours (includes 1 transfer at Utsunomiya)
  • The limited express “Nikko” from Shinjuku — the average trip time 2 hours (the direct access)
  • Tobu Railway limited express “Kegon” from Asakusa — the average trip time 2 hours (the direct access)

The trip times are not much different among these choices. But you have to transfer at Utsunomiya station to take the route by the Tohoku Shinkansen + JR Nikko line route.

Tohoku Shinkansen and JR Nikko line route


If you use JR Pass to visit Nikko, this route is only way that is fully covered by JR Pass.

JR East Pass and Tokyo Wide Pass cover this route fully too. But the direct train to Nikko from Shinjuku is available for these passes too. Please read the next chapter.

JR/Tobu Limited Express Nikko from Shinjuku

Refurbished 253 series will be used for Nikko and Kinugawa
Refurbished 253 series will be used for Nikko and Kinugawa

Both JR East and Tobu Railway operate the direct train service “Nikko” from Shinjuku to Nikko and “Kinugawa” to Kinugawa Onsen. This train runs on JR East line and Tobu Railway line. So JR Pass does not cover this train fully. It covers between Shinjuku and Omiya only. But both JR East Pass and Tokyo Wide Pass cover this train fully even though this train runs on non JR line.

Please see the post below to get the details about this train.

You can find out the timetable at JR East official site:

JR East official site – the timetable

Tobu Limited Express Spacia Kegon from Asakusa

Limited Express Kegon and Kinu are operated by 100 series. Actually this fleet is much better than JR 253 series.
The limited express Kegon and Kinu are operated by 100 series. Actually this fleet is much better than JR 253 series.

Tobu Railway is more popular to visit Nikko for local tourists. Tobu Railway’s terminal station is Asakusa. Asakusa is not very convenient place if you stay in east side of Tokyo, such as Shinjuku. But the train runs more frequently and especially to Kinugawa Onsen.

You can find the timetable of the limited express from Asakusa in the link below:

Tobu Railway’s timetable

If you use Tobu Railway, you can use some Tobu Railway’s deals. Please see the link below:

Tobu Railway’s Pass site

Tobu Railway’s ordinary train

I mentioned only the limited express train service above. But Tobu Railway operates the ordinary train service too. Tobu Railway’s deals do not include the limited express surcharge. If you want to avoid paying any extra on top of Tobu Railway’s deals, you may take the ordinary train. Some ordinary train is called “Rapid” or “Express”. These trains skip many station.

Rapid train used to run between Asakusa and Tobu-Nikko/Kinugawa-Onsen directly. However this direct rapid train was discontinued in 2017. If you travel by rapid train, you have to change trains at least once at Minami-Kurihashi.

The interior of Rapid train. It is not luxury but good enough for a few hours trip.
The interior of Rapid train which run between Minami-Kurihashi and Tobu-Nikko, Kinugawa-Onsen. It is not luxury but good enough.

If you take Rapid train, trip time is 2.5 hours to 3 hours to get Nikko. It is not very much different from limited express.

Nikko stations

Tobu-Nikko station
Tobu-Nikko station

In Nikko, Tobu-Nikko station is the core place. JR Nikko station is a few minutes away from Tobu-Nikko station. Most of bus services stop at both stations. Please see my post to see more about Nikko stations.

I hope this post helps you to build your trip plan to Nikko.


  1. James says:

    Dear Takeshi,
    We will stay near Shinagawa in April for 4 days and plan to visit Nikko and Hakone also Mt. Fuji. Can we go to Nikko from Shinagawa? Which train or pass will you recommend?
    Many thanks in advance.

  2. Joshua says:

    Hi! I was thinking of using the Tobu Railway from Asakusa. Is it feasible to do a day trip of Nikko that includes the shrines, Ryuzu Falls, and Lake Chuzenji area? If so, what pass would you recommend for me to get?

  3. michael dubov says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    My wife and me, we are back from Japan where we spent 23 unforgettable days from 12/09 to 03/10. We had the 21 JR pass and it has provided incredible value for us. In Tokyo, Osaka,Hiroshima,Kyoto too.
    Without the Pass this trip wouldn’t be possible.
    Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Michael,

      I’m happy to hear that. There are many more places where you haven’t done in this trip. I hope you will be back to Japan someday to visit these places.


      Takeshi /

  4. PaulF says:


    We’re hoping to travel from Kyoto to Nikko on November 2nd using a JR Pass. We arrive in Hiroshima on 29th October and so that would be the earliest date we could make a reservation.

    I am a bit concerned that, as 3rd November is a public holiday, the trains from Kyoto may already be reserved by that time. Is this possible, as it will be a busy time? Can we just try to get the unreserved seats? Is there a limit to the number of people who can be squeezed into the train? Thank you in advance.

    • Hi PaulF,

      As long as you are flexible, you can reserve your seat somehow. There are many trains from Kyoto to Tokyo and Tokyo to Utsunomiya. Actually it’s not hard to book Shinkansen. Sometimes weekday is harder to book because Shinkansen takes lots of business travellers.

      Anyway after you arrive in Japan, just try to book. I’m very optimistic and you can make it. And don’t try to take non reserved seat from Kyoto. Many of seats will be take at Shin-Osaka and sometimes very hard to find a seat, especially if you travel with someone and want to have seats side by side.


      Takeshi /

      • PaulF says:

        Hello Takeshi,

        Yes, we can be flexible. That’s reassuring. We wouldn’t mind being separated as long as we reach our destination.
        Can passengers stand on the Shinkansen or must they have a seat?

        Also when we arrive at Hiroshima on 29 October, will we be able to reserve seats for all trains we need at the station there, i.e. Hiroshima-Kyoto, Kyoto-Nikko, Nikko-Tokyo?

        Because Nov 2 is the day before a public holiday, will it be more or less busy?

        Thanks for your help so far


        • Hi PaulF,

          You can complete all bookings at Hiroshima. JR train’s tickets can be made a booking at any stations that have reservation window. Most of stations have reservation window, so you can make it quickly and easily.

          You don’t need to care about holidays. If you travel super busy period, like New Years, mid August, we need to check the calendar. But November 3 is one of those holidays. It’s not much different between 2nd and 3rd.

          You can stand on isle or passengers deck of non reserved car if it’s full. But we don’t see any standing passengers other than super busy period. Don’t worry. You will make it.


          Takeshi /

  5. Kacey says:

    Dear Takeshi-san

    Pardon my questions again. I plan to go Nikko/Lake Chuzenji as a day trip and then Lake Kawaguchi the next day. I’m confused with all the options of transportation and day passes like JR Kanto Area pass, All Nikko pass, 2 day nikko pass. If I’m staying at Ningyocho station, is it better to take the Tobu line at Asakusa? Should I take Nikko pass instead of Kanto pass then? What are the differences in cost as I understand that Nikko pass includes the bus trips in Nikko but the JR Kanto Area pass doesn’t. If I take the JR Kanto Area Pass, how should I go Nikko and what are the extra charges I need to pay?

    Thank you so much, so sorry to trouble you!


  6. Hou says:

    Hi Takeshi San,
    Will stay at Asakusa then travel to Nikko beginning of Nov. Plan to visit either Hakone or Kawaguchi. However after reading your comment and Hakone volcano alert will decide to choose Kawaguchi. Is that feasible to travel Kawaguchi after Nikko or need to stay at Tokyo before travel there? What kind of transport and pass are advisable. 3 days at Asakusa, 2 days at Nikko, 1 day at Kawaguchi and 2 days at Shibuya. Thanks in advance

  7. Andrea says:

    Hello Takeshi-san,

    Thank you for this useful and easy guide to get to Nikko.

    I’m planning a new journey through Japan for this year and I would like to ask your advice if possible.

    This time I will be based mainly in Tokyo and I would like to visit the following:

    -BosoPeninsula/Tateyama Route
    -Kitsune Village

    Considering this, would it be best for me to purchase a JR pass or JR-East pass?
    I will be in Japan for about 2 weeks and from what I’ve read it seeems that I would use the JR-East more than the JR pass.

    Do you have any advice for me please?

    As always many thanks!


  8. Jane says:

    Happy New year 2015 Takeshi san,

    We (my husband , me and my 15 yesr old son) will visit Japan for the first time to Japan on Apr, 2015. Below is my itinerary:

    Day 1 (apr 1) arrive tokyo (stay at hotel at Shinjuku area
    Day 2 ( apr 2) start at 9 tsukiji fish market – odaiba – shibuya or ginza if time permitted
    Day 3 (apr 3) Ueno park (view cherry bloosom), – Asakusa – Sky tree – Akihabara
    Day 4 (apr 4) Day visit to Mt Fuji and Kawaguchi Lake
    Day 5 (apr 5) Imperial Palace – Tokyo I’tl Forum – shibuya((a quick visit) – Meiji Shrine – Harajuku ( hv to visit Harajuku on Sunday)

    Pls advise me if the tokyo itinerary workable (I am epen to revise it and let me know iif buyiing tokyo metro day pass or single fare ticket is suitable for my itinerary.

    Pls guide how to access to Mt Fuji and Lake kawaguchi from shinjuku station and how much is the train round trip fare.

    Day 6 (apr) from shinjuku travel to takayama via Nagoya ( I plan to buy 7 days JR pass and starrt using it today) stay one night in takayama
    Day 7 (apr 7) takayama – Shirakagawako – kanazawa by bus (stay one night in kanazawa
    Day 8 (apr 8) kanazawa – kyoto by train
    Day 9 (apr 9) kyoto – nara – osaka (visit floating garden) back to kyoto by train
    Day 10 (apr 10) kyoto
    Day 11 (apr 11) hv to check out from hotel in kyoto as the hotel is fully fooked.
    kyoto – hiroshima – miyajima by train. Stay 1 night in Hiroshima
    Day 12 (apr 12) Hiroshima – Himeji – Osaka (visit shimbashi and dotonburi) back to kyoto by train
    Day 13 (apr 13) Kyoto
    Day 14 (apr 14) fly to sin with late evening flightt. I inted to ride direct train from kyoto station to Kansai Int’l airport terminal.. Pls advise me which train.

    Takeshi san, I need your advice which JR pass is more suitable for my trip in term of travel wise and money value.

    Thank you very much in advance for your help and kind regards.

    • Happy New Year, Jane san,

      First of all, highway bus is the best choice for your trip to Lake Kawaguchi.

      In Tokyo, it is hard to pick the choice. There are three subway deals.
      Tokyo Metro one day pass 710 yen
      Tokyo Toei one day pass 700 yen
      Metro and Toei one day pass 1000 yen

      For example, on day 2, you will spend the following:
      Shinjuku – Tsukijishijo by Toei Subway 270 yen
      Tsukijishijo – Shiodome by Toei Subway 180 yen
      Shiodome – Odaiba Kaihin Kobe (Odaiba) by Yurikamome 320 yen x 2 = 640 yen (return)
      Shiodome – Shinjuku by Toei subway 220 yen

      You will spend 670 yen for Toei subway. Yurikamome is not covered by any deals. So it is almost equal to Toei subway deal. But I did not include Ginza and Shibuya. If you visit one of these places, you have to take Tokyo Metro. It’s not covered by Toei subway deal. You have to buy Metro and Toei deal.

      It is very sensitive to compare single fares and pass. If you are really sensitive with your budget, you have to fix your itinerary completely. If you want to have some flexibility, you have to invest 1000 yen everyday for both subway.

      At last, you can take Limited Express Haruka from Kyoto to KIX.

      You can use Kansai Area Pass one day.
      If you purchase it before you leave, 1000 yen cheaper.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  9. xh says:

    Thank you for your kind comment!! You have been thoroughly helpful as always! Have a great day!

  10. XH says:


    This is the second time i’m going to Japan, as well as the second time i’m seeking your advice here. I have planned a rough outline of where i want to go, but seems like the transportation costs might be much if i don’t choose the right pass. Do let me know which pass is the best for this itinerary to save cost!! Thanks!!

    Day 1-2 (wed-Thur): Tokyo
    Day 3 (fri): Karuizawa day trip (day trip)
    Day 4 (Sat): Nikko (day trip)
    Day 5 (Sun): Tokyo (can’t swap any other day trips for this day though 🙁 )
    Day 6 (Mon): Enoshima/Kamakura day trip
    Day 7 (Tue): Tokyo
    Day 8 (Wed): Kyoto
    Day 9 (Thur): Osaka (Universal studios day trip)
    Day 10 (Fri): Osaka (shopping, day trip)
    Day 11 (Sat): Miyajima (& Hiroshima area if time permits) day trip
    Day 12 (Sun): Kyoto (sightseeing)
    Day 13 (Mon): fly back at night from KIX

    So basically I’m staying in Tokyo from Day 1-7, and Kyoto from Day 8-13, to save the hassle of transferring luggage, but if you have any suggestions that can reduce my transportation cost, that would be welcomed too!

    Based on my limited knowledge on rail pass, this is what i came up with:
    Karuizawa and Nikko: Kanto area pass (8300 yen)
    Enoshima/Kamakura: Enoshima Kamakura Free Pass (1470 yen)
    Tokyo to Kyoto (day 8): about 13,080 yen, unreserved
    Osaka: Surutto Kansai 2 Day Ticket (4000 yen)
    Kyoto to Miyajima (day 11): about 21,000 yen to and fro, not including ferry etc..

    I was thinking if i should take the Japan rail pass from Day 8 onwards since the Tokyo to Kyoto trip + Hiroshima trip is very costly..

    Also for Karuizawa and Nikko, should i take up the Kanto area pass? Or just travel normal train for Karuizawa, and get the 2 day Nikko pass?
    For the 2 Day Nikko pass, i can basically get from Asakusa to Nikko round trip by Tobu railway, as well as take unlimited local Tobu buses in Nikko, is that right? So this pass can bring me to Lake Chuzenji, kengo waterfalls?
    Will it get me to the shrines (Toshogu etc) and Mount Hangetsuyama? If not can you advise what other passes i need to get?

    I know this is lengthy, so pardon me!! Thank you very much in advance for any advice possible!


    • Hi XH,

      Your plan is a good to go. I don’t have anything to comment.
      Regarding the pass, your choice is right. Kanto Area Pass and JR Pass is the best combination. As long as you go to both Karuizawa and Nikko, Kanto Area Pass is most affordable choice. If you use Nikko Pass, you have to purchase single ticket to Karuizawa. That is more expensive choice than using Kanto Area Pass for both Karuizawa and Nikko. Simply you can add the bus ticket for the place where you want to visit.

      At last, as you probably know, Kamakura Enoshima pass does not include a ticket to/from Tokyo. You have to purchase single ticket to Ofuna.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Jane says:

        Dear Takeshi san,

        Thank you very much for your valuable input.
        I never thought that we can go to Mt fuji – lake kawaguchi by express bus from shinjuku. I hope that the counter staff at the shinjuku bus office can understand English.


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