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 just got my JR Pass voucher in the mail today and was trying to figure out the best plan for one overnight in Nikko. I will leave early on Feb 20th from Tokyo Station, spend time in Nikko that afternoon and maybe the next morning and travel back on the 21st to Musashi University (near Ekoda station) by no later than 4 PM. I do not see a route using only JR lines, but it looks like you have lots of good answers so I figured I’d ask. Thanks!

    1. Hi Gerry,

      Ekoda is Seibu railway station. As you think, it’s not JR line and not covered either. The nearest and most convenient JR station is Ikebukuro. The best route from Nikko is the following:

      Nikko (JR Nikko line local train) Utsunomiya (Shinkansen) Omiya (JR Shonan Shinjuku line train) Iekbukuro (Seibu Railway) Ekoda.

      You need to pay for taking Seibu railway from Ikebukuro to Ekoda.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    We are doing a day trip to Nikko from Tokyo on Jan. 24 using our JR Pass, and would like to ask the following:

    1) Do you think its worth it to go and see Kegon Falls, considering the additional 50-min bus ride and the time of the year?

    2) If we decide to go to Kegon Falls, do you think we would be able to make this short 6-min transfer time:

    Shinkansen Yamabiko 41
    Depart 06:04
    Arrive 06:53
    Duration 0h49

    JR Nikko Line
    Depart 06:59
    Arrive 07:45
    Duration 0h46

    3) Since the round trip bus fare for Nikko to Kegon Falls come to JPY2,300 already, can you suggest a pass that would cover this bus and maybe our whole trip from Tokyo to Nikko? Because I have the option of not using my JR Pass for this day and just start using my JR Pass on the next day going to Hokkaido.

    Thank you in advance.

    Regards,
    Benito

  3. Hi Takeshi,

    I would like to ask your advice on the easiest way to Nikko Edomura (Edo Wonderland) from Hilton Tokyo Odaiba hotel. I have 3 children travelling with me.

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Takeshi-san,

    I would like to know the most easiest way to get to Nikko from Shinjuku for a day tour. Besides of to get a JR pass, what is the another choice I can take? How much is the total fares price and what is the available route timing?
    Appreciated your helps in advanced.

  5. Dear ,
    I will travel to your country on this Autumn,
    I buy JR Pass 7 days for ( Tokyo-Kyoto ( roundtrip ), Kyoto-Osaka>Kobe->Nara , Tokyo-Kawaguchiko ( rountrip, Jr cover Tokyo-Otsuki, from otsuki must pay more money )
    I have 1day to Nikko from Asakusa ( JR pass 7 days exprired ) I want to visit Tosoghu Shrine, Chuzenji Lake, So Could You tell me What is the best way for me ?
    – buy Nikko City Area Pass 2670Y ??? or somthing else?
    If i buy Nikko City Area Pass, I will take Tobu Express LMT Kegon to Tobu-Nikko ( stop Shimo-Imaichi )??

    Looking forward your reply,
    Best Regards

  6. Hi Takeshi,

    I would like to know which pass or busses should I get if I wanted to visit Kegon Falls, Yudaki Falls and Lake Chuzenji keeping in mind I have Nationwide JR pass that I was thinking of using that to go to Nikko Station or should I get the Tobu passes?

    Thanks

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