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 Thaiparis says:

    Bonjour Takeshi,
    I do not quite understand about the Nikko pass. I am planning to buy Nikko world heritage pass for 2000 yen. Is it included return train ticket from Asakusa to Nikko ? or I have to buy train ticket separately ? On tobu s website, I see only limited express train for sell. How to choose rapid train? On Hyperdia I see 1,360 yen for one way ticket. Is it the price for limited express or rapid ?
    Is it necessary to book in advance ? Im planning to go there for a day during the week of 20 november 2018 but I would like to check the weather forecast first.
    And for one day trip which pass should I buy please ? I just would like to see The famous bridge, the water fall and temple.
    I used to buy JR pass but I did not travel ;much. I find out that there are others ways to travel around japan.

    Thank you for your website

    • Hi James,

      Nikko World Heritage Pass includes Asakusa-Nikko round trip base fare. You can take Rapid train without any extra payment. If you take limited express train, you have to pay limited express surcharge. You can purchase it at Asakusa station on the spot.

      I think you may purchase Nikko Pass All Area. Because Nikko World Heritage Pass does not cover Kegon fall. Nikko Pass All Area covers Kegon fall.


      Takeshi /

  2. Adrian says:

    Dear Takeshi-san,

    I would like to go to nikko from shinjuku and return from nikko to asakusa.
    Would it be more cost effective to purchase a nikko pass or purchase the tickets seperately.

    Thanks in advance

  3. Emily Moh says:

    Dear Takeshi,
    I will be going to Nikko for 2 days (26-28 Oct) from Narita Airport and back to Tokyo after that. What is the best option? Should I get any JR pass? Is Kirifuri-kogen worth a visit?


  4. Sarthak Bartaria says:

    Hell Takeshi
    i live in Tokyo and planning to visit Nikko for 1 day trip. Considering the following itenary.

    – Buy Nikko all area pass
    – Leave from Tokyo and reach Nikko early morning
    – Visit Toshugu shrine, Kinu Tateiwa Otsuribashi Suspension Bridge, Kegon Falls, Kinugawa Boat Cruise, Chuzenji Lake. Optional: visit Irohazaka, Ryuokyo

    Do you think this can be covered in a day? Is Nikko all area pass a good option for this?
    We are planning to travel in the second half of December.

    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Sarthak,

      It’s not impossible but it will be very very tight. I think you will spend 5 hours to visit Toshogu, Kegon falls and Chuzenji lake after arriving Nikko. And then you will spend about 30 minutes to move to Kinugawa onsen to visit suspension bridge and boat cruise. You will have a lunch time in this trip.


      Takeshi /

  5. Lysa says:


    I’m Lysa from Indonesia and I will visit Japan next month (Nov 15-24).
    I’m interested to put Nikko on my itinerary but since I’ll be travelling solo I still thinking about it.
    Is it easy to reach Nikko from Tokyo? Nearest station from my hotel will be Ikebukuro Station. The hotel staff said that there is express train operates direct from Ikebukuro to Nikko but I cant find any info about it.

    Is the info correct? Because so far I only know to reach Nikko are from Shinjuku, Asakusa and Ueno.

    Best regards,

  6. Sephiria says:

    Hi Takeshi, can I check if I can use the JR east tohoku pass to travel between Shimbashi and Kinugawa using Toei Subway Asakusa Line for AOTO and TOBU LTD. EXP REVATY AIZU 111? Thanks!!

  7. Robert Leigh says:

    Hello Takeshi,
    My wife and I are spending two weeks in Japan in January 2019. Our last touring day is the day prior to flying home. We are planning to go to Nikko using the last day of out JR pass. I have not been able to find a timeyable for the trains in and out of Nikko from Utsunomiya.
    Is it possible to point me to a suitable timetable?

    Thank you

    Robert from Australia

  8. Teresa Sousa says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I plan to visit Nikko in my upcoming trip in November and use the Nikko All Area Pass. I will visit Yunishigawa Onsen on Day 1 and then Nikko on Day 2. My question is will the pass cover the trip from Kinugawa Onsen onwards to Yunishigawa Onsen and the bus to the ryokan? Also, if I take Tobu Ltd Express train between Kinugawa Onsen and Tobu-Nikko, how do I pay for the reserved seat fee, and do I have to reserve the seat for such a short ride?

    Thank you!


    • Hi Teresa,

      This pass does not cover further than Shin-Fujiwara. Shin-Fujiwara is one station away from Kinugawa onsen. So Yunishigawa onsen is not in the coverage area.
      If you take limited express train, you need to pay and you have to reserve the seat. All seats are reserved seat. You cannot take a train without reservation.


      Takeshi /

  9. Meep says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    We wish to know for sure if Spacia Kegon, which leaves from Asakusa, is included in the Tokyo Wide Pass? I’ve seen your note that Spacia Nikko is fully covered by the pass, but no mention if it is the same for Spacia Kegon. Just want to be sure of our options.

    Another thing, we’re planning to get the Tokyo Wide Pass because we’re also visiting Gunma after a day or two in Nikko. Is there by any chance a way to go straight from Nikko to Gunma via train/bus? If so, is it covered by the Tokyo Wide Pass? Or are we better off traveling back from Nikko to Tokyo, and then Tokyo to Gunma? Thanks in advance for your help. Cheers.

    • Hi Meep,

      Any Tobu train from Asakusa station is not covered by Tokyo Wide Pass. Some Spacia Nikko depart from Shinjuku. These are covered.

      There is no direct ways to get Gumma from Nikko. You don’t need to go back to Tokyo. You can change Shinkansen at Omiya.


      Takeshi /

  10. polisis says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    My itinerary for one day in Nikko is: Toshogu Shrine, Akechidaira ropeway, Chuzenji Lake and Kegon Falls.
    My hotel is near Ningyocho Station.
    Should I take Nikko all area pass, or take Nikko city area pass and buy bus pass to chuzenji lake?
    I will go on weekdays, if I take the 07:30 train (Kegon 5), do you think I would be able to see all?
    Also, Is the construction works in Toshogu Shrine already done in May 29-30?
    Thank you very much.

    • Hi Polisis,

      Nikko all area pass is better choice because bus pass is 2000 yen. Bus pass + city area pass is more expensive.

      You can make all places in one day.

      Nikko Toshogu is still under construction until next spring.


      Takeshi /

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