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.

Overview

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

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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.

173 thoughts on “Nikko access guide. Three routes from Tokyo, Shinjuku and Asakusa.”

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    I will go to Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen in December. I will travel from Tokyo Narita to Kinugawa Onsen in Day 1 and Nikko to Shinjuku in Day 3. I am quite confused with which pass to buy – should I get a JR Kanto Area Pass or a Full 4-day Nikko Pass? I want to go back to Shinjuku direct on Day 3 and no need to do the transfer. I know the Nikko Pass may not cover the whole thing. Do you think I have to simply pay the extra fare between Asakusa to Shinjuku by using the Nikko Pass? Please advise. Many thanks.

      1. Thanks Takeshi! On the first day i will be arriving Kinugawa Onsen at 1238. I want to go to Ryuokyo Canyon and Edo Wonderland before checking-in. Do you think i have enough time to visit both places? BTW if i use the Tokyo Wide Pass it does not cover any bus service in Nikko. Is there a bus pass that i could buy? Please advise. Many thanks.

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    I at the Hotel Imperial (between Hibiya Park subway station and Yurakucho JR Station) and want to travel to Nikko on a day trip on Tuesday.

    Should I take (i) the subway to Kitasenju Station and then the JR to Tobu-Nikko, (ii) the JR from Yurakucho or (iii) any other option?

    What would be the cost?

    Thanks

      1. Hi Takeshi, is it easy to find the platform for Nikko at Kitasenju station? There’s 8 minutes between my subway train arriving at Kitasenju and the Revaty train to Nikko departing. Is that cutting it too close?

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    I’ve heard that I can purchase a 500-yen day ticket for Nikko buses. Could you let me know how to buy it? Thanks.

  4. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I will be going for a 12 day trip in late October this year, with the focus on Tokyo only. I will be making a few day trips to these places:

    1) Hitachi Seaside Park (1 day)
    2) Ashikaga Flower Park (1 day)
    3) Nikko (3-4 days)
    4) Ghibli Museum in Mitaka
    5) Hakone (1 day)
    6) We will be making some food trips to Setagaya and Nakameguro

    > I am planning to use my Suica card to explore Tokyo. For the day trips, may I know if I should get any passes? For Nikko, it will be my first time and I am planning to stay there for 3-4 days. I do not know which pass I need to get – there are: Tobu Nikko free pass / JR Tokyo Wide Pass / All Nikko Pass.

    > I am planning to make a trip to Mount Hangetsuyama (Nikko) but I could not get information on how to get here. Would you be able to advise?

    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Charlene,

      Suica is okay but you may get Tokyo subway pass at only 800 yen for one day. If you use two or three days, it’s much cheaper.
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel/index.html

      If you ride subway 4 or 5 times, it’s paid off. And it gives you unlimited ride but suica does not. Suica covers both JR and subway. So you can have Suica but use only when you need to take JR and subway pass is more recommended.

      All Nikko Pass is the best choice for the trip to Nikko and this is only pass that is valid for 4 days.
      http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/en/pass/all.html

      Please check the link below to find info about Mount Hangetsuyama.
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3815.html

      You may use Tokyo Wide Pass for Ashikaga and Hitashi seaside, and may be Ghibli. If you visit another place other than Hakone, Nikko, you may use Tokyo Wide Pass.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/other-rail-passes/rail-pass-for-visitors/tokyo-wide-pass-is-newer-version-of-kanto-area-pass-nikko-fuji-gala-yuzawa-and-odaiba-are-covered-by-this-pass.html

      Hakone Free Pass is the best choice to get Hakone. You may use Tokyo wide pass to take JR train to Odawara and purchase Hakone Free Pass there. It’s cheaper but more inconvenient.
      https://jprail.com/destinations/chubu-area/fuji-hakone-access-guide-by-train-and-bus-from-both-tokyo-and-osaka-kyoto-nagoya.html
      http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi,
    Thanks for the info above, but I’m using Tokyo Metro Pass, is there any alternative ways to get there? And can i get 2 day Nikko Pass at Nikko Station?

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Nikko is way far from Tokyo. You cannot get Nikko by Tokyo Metro Pass. You need to take one of the ways in the post above. You may use Tokyo Metro Pass to get one of the departure points in Tokyo, such as Shinjuku, Tokyo, Asakusa.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Hi Takeshi,

        Thank you once again for the information, but can i check with you when i reached Nikko, how can I check which bus should i take, example if i want to go Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Waterfall. What’s the bus number and from where i can take those buses to travel?

          1. Buses to the lake and waterfall leave from right outside Tobu station. You can’t miss them.
            Tobu station is a five minute walk up from the JR station.
            We were there on a public holiday and buses were very full but the “pack em on.” You may have to stand, but you’ll make it.

  6. Hi Takeshi,
    I am going to take TOBU LTD. EXP KINU 105 from kita-senju to tobu-nikko. Since it is all reserved seat train, can you tell me how can I reserve seat? Do I have to reserve it before the date or can I just reserve it on the spot?
    If for example, my starting point is from Koiwa, and I take tobu line all the way to tobu-nikko (through kita-senju), can I buy all the tickets needed in Koiwa? Assuming I have Suica, thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Esso,

      You need to go to major Tobu station to book a ticket, like Asakusa, Kita-Senju. You can book it in advance or on the spot. But if it’s booked out, you cannot take a train. It’s hard to say how busy train will be when you take. If you worry about it, I recommend you to purchase it in advance.

      Suica can cover the trip to Nikko.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hi!

    I have a question. I do not have a JR railpass but are going to Nikko from Tokyo. Can I go to the closest train station and buy tickets there?

    Thank you for you help!

    Regards,
    Lisa

  8. Hi! first of all many thanks for all your info!
    I would like to buy the 2 day Nikko pass and from their website it seems that you have to book it online.
    Can I buy this pass from the station in Tokyo?
    Thank you!

    Marco

    1. Hi Marco,

      As long as I checked Tobu railway website, reservation is mandatory. I don’t think you can get the pass without reservation and pick up at Tobu Asakusa station.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  9. Dear Sir
    Can I travel from Tokyo To Nikko using this method,
    1.Ueno Station to Utsunomiya Station (Utsunomiya Line)
    2.Utsunomiya Station to Nikko Station (Nikko Line).
    Can you advise the travel duration using this method? Is this method of travel time consuming?

  10. Hi Takeshi,

    This may sounds silly to ask but i’m getting a little confused even though your directions were quite detailed and i hope you can clear my confusion a bit.

    I am travelling from Shinjuku and have a JR pass (not JR east) and I am going to go to Utsunomiya for a one night stay in Richmond hotel followed by travelling to Yunishigawa Onsen station the next day for another night stay to also see the kamakura snow festival and that means i have to pass through Kinugawa onsen station right?

    So my question would be, how do i make full use of my JR pass as much as i can? I believe i have to pay extra for parts thats not covered which i am perfectly ok. Or should i be getting the Nikko pass (that part i am confused too honestly) I’m not able to buy JR east pass which covers as i am also going to Hiroshima and some other places during my 12 days trip

    1. Hi Valerie,

      The easiest way is the following:

      Utsunomiy (JR Nikko line) Nikko
      Walk a few hundred meter to Tobu Nikko station from JR Nikko station
      Tobu Nikko (Tobu railway, transfer at Shimoimaichi station) Yunishigawa Onsen

      So you have to pay extra for Tobu railway. A few trains go directly from Nikko to Yunishigawa Onsen. But mostly you have to transfer at Shimo-Imaichi station. You may get Yunishigawa onsen from Shimo-Imaichi directly.

      Check the timetable and fare at Hyperida. When you search, try to find one by one, Utsunomiya to Nikko and Tobu-Nikko to Yunishigawa-Onsen.
      https://jprail.com/travel-informations/basic-informations/timetable-and-reservation/hyperdia-perfect-guide-train-timetable-and-route-search-engine.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thanks so much Takeshi! I am finally able to get through to you.
        Will follow your methods 🙂

        Thank you so much once again! you are a gem!

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