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.

Tobu Railway Nikko line between Tochigi and Kurihashi, and between Shin-Shikanuma and Shimo-Imaichi are closed due to the damage by the typhoon on October 13th, 2019. You cannot get Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen by Tobu Railway from Asakusa. And JR’s limited express from Shijuku to Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen are suspended as well.

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

Tobu Railway Nikko line between Tochigi and Kurihashi, and between Shin-Shikanuma and Shimo-Imaichi are closed due to the damage by the typhoon on October 13th, 2019. You cannot get Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen by Tobu Railway from Asakusa. And JR’s limited express from Shijuku to Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen are suspended as well.

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

Tobu Railway Nikko line between Tochigi and Kurihashi, and between Shin-Shikanuma and Shimo-Imaichi are closed due to the damage by the typhoon on October 13th, 2019. You cannot get Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen by Tobu Railway from Asakusa. And JR’s limited express from Shijuku to Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen are suspended as well.

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.

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

  1. Hi Takeshi,

    May I know which route is covered under the Tokyo Wide Area Pass? Are there any direct buses from Shinjuku to Nikko instead?

    Thank you!

    Regards,
    Jean

    1. Hi Jean,

      Tokyo wide pass covers “Tohoku Shinkansen and JR Nikko line route” and “JR/Tobu Limited Express Nikko from Shinjuku”. Tobu railway from Asakusa to Nikko is not covered. This pass does not cover any bus service either.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    I am a little confused and would like your help.

    I have a JR East Pass, I will be travelling from Nikko – Asakusa, will it be fully covered if I take the Tobu Limited Express Kegon? If not, what would be a better route? Thanks!

    1. Hi Tanny,

      JR East Pass does not cover to Nikko-Asakusa route. You have to take the following routes:

      1. Nikko (JR Nikko line) Utsunomiya (Shinkansen) Ueno (subway) Asakusa
      *Ueno-Asakusa by subway is not covered.

      2. Tobu-Nikko (Tobu-JR limited express) Shinjuku (JR Chuo-Sobu line) Askusabashi (subway) Asausa
      *Asakusabashi-Asakusa by subway is not covered.

      Route 1 is easier to get Asakusa.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi,
    We will be in Tokyo soon. We are staying in the Roppongi area.
    We want to go to Nikko for the day.
    Should we go from Roppongi station to Ueno to Nikko or from Roppongi to Shinjuku to Nikko?
    Or through Tokyo Station?
    Our time is flexible but we only want to go for the day.
    Thank you,
    Chris Stone

  4. Hi Takeshi,
    My boyfriend and I are going to Japan in a few weeks. Our itinerary is as follows:
    Tokyo 7 nights
    Kyoto 5 nights
    Osaka 3 nights
    Hiromshima 1 night
    Miyajima 1 night
    Hiromshima 1 night
    Tokyo 1 night
    Nikko 2 nights
    Tokyo 1 night
    Since we are in TokyoI didnt think we needed a JR pass is this correct? I worked out that if we get the 14 day JR which would begin the day we go from Tokyo to Kyoto, that the JR pass would run out the night we are in NIKKO. Which means we wouldnt have a JR pass to get from Nikko back to Tokyo. Is this an expensive trip without JR? Would we be better off getting a bus ticket?
    Thanks!!

    1. Hi Jess,

      If you take JR Nikko line and Tohoku Shinkansen from Utsunomiya to Tokyo, the fare is around 5,000 yen. But if you take Tobu railway to Asakusa by limited express train, the fare and seat fee are around 3000 yen. You may need to take subway to get your place in Tokyo but it’s still much cheaper than Shinkansen route. Once you get Tokyo, you can add subway pass or other deal.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

      1. Thank you so much Takeshi! Also what town/area do you recommend staying in Nikko? We were looking at the Kinugawaonsen area but is this too far away from the major attractions and sites? Also how do we access the sites via bus and train?

        1. Hi Jess,

          Kinugawa Onsen is not Nikko area. If you want accessible place to visit Nikko, you should stay in Nikko. There are lots of hotels.
          If you stay in Kinugawa onsen, you have to take trains from Kinugawa Onsen to Shimoimaichi and Shimoimachi to Nikko. It’s not convenient.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Hi Takeshi

    Firstly the resource here is GOLD and has helped me put together the following itinerary Tokyo to Nikko to Osaka to Nara to Kyoto to Takayama to Tokyo back, for a total of 15 days. A few other forums I checked with say that I don’t need a 14 JR pass at 400 dollars since individual tickets to these locations will be cheaper. What would you advice pls? Thanks a big bunch though.

  6. Hi,

    I am wondering about the most affordable way to get around Japan. I will be there for three weeks and plan to visit these cities:
    -Tokyo
    -Nikko
    -Hakone
    -Matsumoto
    -Kanazawa
    -Shirakawa-go
    -Takayama
    -Kyoto
    -Hiroshima
    -Nara

    Then back to Tokyo for my flight. Would advice buying individual train passes to each city or a 7 day JR pass? Thank you for your valuable time and hope to hear back.

    -Chris

    1. Hi Chris,

      It depends on how you spend your time at each cities. But I don’t think 7 days is enough to cover cities other than Tokyo, Hakone and Nikko. There are lots of deals for Tokyo, Hakone and Nikko. But you have to use JR pass for other places. If you can make remaining places in 7 days, 7 days pass is a good deal. But in my opinion, 7 days is too short. 14 days pass is still cheaper than regular fare to visit these cities. You don’t need to include Hakone but Nikko can be accessed by JR pass. You can save your cost if you can include Nikko in 14 days period.

      At this point, your itinerary has not been fixed yet. I recommend you to build the detailed itinerary first. And then you can pick the deal that is most suitable for your trip.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  7. Hello,

    I am actually pondering on how should I spend my days in Tokyo. It is a total of 6 days, excluding the last day since I am taking plane on 10am. I reach Tokyo Narita around 7.30am morning, so there’s some time for me to go other district for a visit. And I am going with my girlfriend.

    My current itinerary are as follow;
    Day 1 – Shinjuku & Shibuya ku (Shibuya crossing, Hachiko,
    Day 2 – Lake Kawaguchi (Mt Fuji view)
    Day 3 – Nikko (See snow, no plans on here yet since it was just added into itinerary)
    Day 4 – Kamakura & Enoshima (Some temple visit and shopping)
    Day 5 – DisneySea
    Day 6 – Tsukiji Market, Akibahara, Ueno Park, Sensoji, Tokyo Skytree (Last day walkabout)

    I would like to ask if I were to stick with this itinerary, is JR Wide Pass is the best option for me? As I know Wide Pass can cover a partial of my trip to Lake Kawaguchi, Nikko and Kamakura area. Thinking of getting 72 hour pass.

    Day 2 and 3, any recommendation places to go after Nikko and Lake Kawaguchi? I don’t think I will be spending whole day there, probably will be back before 5pm – 7pm. Any idea where I can visit?

    Days that I do not need pass is Day 5, Day 1 and Day 6 since I going to spend whole day there, figured no point of having day pass on that day. The first and last day I am planning to get Pasmo/Suica card to walk around Ginza and Shinjuku/Shibuya area. I am staying in Shinjuku area.

    Budget wise, I already have ¥110,000 for transport and food, exclude DisneySea entrance ticket. Is it enough?

    Any suggestions for me to refine my itinerary?

    1. Hi Darren,

      You may use Tokyo Wide Pass for day 2 to 4 as you think. For arrival and departure day, I recommend you to use NEX Tokyo Round Trip Ticket.
      http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/nex_round.html

      Narita Express is most reliable way to get Shinjuku from Narita. You can take Narita Express to Narita from Shinjuku on departure day too.

      Pasmo or Suica is okay but Tokyo Subway Ticket is very good deal too. It gives you unlimited subway ride for 24 hours.
      http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel/index.html

      Yokohama and Kawagoe are very accessible from Tokyo. Yokohama is okay to visit after dusk.
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2156.html
      http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6500.html

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  8. Hi Takeshi,

    Sorry for being confused. Does this mean that I use the Tokyo Wide Pass for the Tobu Ltd express trains on either Asakusa or Shinjuku station to Tobu-Nikko/JR Nikko station without any additional cost? Or do I need to pay additional fees? Also, do I have to reserve a train seat and is this free with the pass? Thanks

  9. Hi Takeshi,

    Can you advise me on the local buses in Nikko? I will be spending most of the time taking the local buses to the attractions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find information online on the local bus services from the Nikko-Kinugawa line to the various attractions in central Nikko. I realised that Nikko is divided into Tobu-Nikko and Nikko-Kinugawa and it seems that all the local buses operate to the attractions via the main Tobu Nikko station. Are there local buses from the Nikko-Kinugawa line to central Nikko?

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