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-san,
    I’m planning to go to Nikko on a December Saturday for a day trip via Asakusa. I plan to go to Lake Chuzenji aside from Toshogu Shrine. Is it correct that it will be cheaper to purchase the All Area Nikko Pass instead of the World Heritage Pass since the buses are not covered? I also want to upgrade to the fastest train with fewest/no stops. Is it supposed to be Kegon arriving at Tobu-Nikko? It says on the Tobu site that for me to get a 20% discount to upgrade, I need to buy the train tickets along with the pass. Does that mean I cannot pre-purchase my pass before going to Japan? Finally, I’m having trouble with the timetables. I cannot decipher what the earliest times are to leave Asakusa and latest times to leave Nikko as well as the arrival times to the destination. I’m also confused that the weekend inbound schedule says that 2:15pm is the last train.
    Hope you can help me.
    DJ

  2. Dear Takeshi-san,

    Need your advice regarding local train to Nikko.
    I’m planning to go to Nikko using Nikko all area pass and I want to take local train to Nikko or Rapid Train service as you said. I’ve been searching the schedule for Rapid Train but I can’t find it so maybe can you share the schedule of Rapid Train to Asakusa-Nikko and Nikko Asakusa? Does it run everytime (like every 15 mins)?

    Thank you & Regards,
    Merin

    1. Hi Merin san,

      Unfortunately there is no direct trains from Asakusa to Nikko now. You must change trains at least once on the way. And there is no hard copy of the timetable. You must use the search engine, such as Hyperdia to find the timetable. Please see the link below to find the info about hyperdia. You can get how to find the local or rapid train timetable to Nikko there by hyperdia:
      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. Dear Takehi-san,

        Thank you for you advice!
        I’ve looked Hyperpedia and searched to Nikko so I have one more question.
        One of route says I can ride JR Nikko Line for Nikko from UTSUNOMIYA St. but does it cover with Nikko all area pass?

        Regards,
        Merin

        1. Hi Merin san,

          JR Nikko line is not covered. This pass covers only Tobu railway lines. Please refer “Search with some conditions” in the link which I gave you about hyperdia.

          You may check at “Express”, “Ordinary Train” and “Private Railway”. And put at the Asakusa (Tobu/subway) at “From” and Tobu-Nikko at “To”. You will find the route which you need.

          Cheers,

          Takeshi / JPRail.com

  3. Hi
    I’m planning a weekend trip from Tokyo to Nikko from 13-15Apr, staying two nights in Nikko.
    My main area of interest is hiking to see beautiful scenery in Nikko like around Lake Chuzenji area and I plan to book a hotel near the lake.
    In Tokyo, I’ll be staying at Westin Tokyo.
    There are so many ways to get to Nikko you have shown us but based on what I plan to do, could you recommend me the best way to travel from Tokyo to Nikko (which station?) and what type of pass should I get, if any?

  4. Takeshi-san,
    Can you please assist me on what JR Rails I can access from my hotel at Super Hotel Lohas, Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo to Nikko Japan? I plan on doing a day trip to Nikko as part of my family vacation and to have my daughter see snow for the first time. My reservations are from Dec. 26, 2018 to Jan. 3, 2019, so if there are other options to see snow that is closer during this time period, can you please recommend? I thank you in advance for all your assistance.

    1. Hi Darryle san,

      If you meant that you will use JR pass or other JR deals, you can take Shinkansen (Tokyo-Utsunomiya) and Nikko line (Utsunomiya-Nikko). You have to take subway to get Tokyo station which is not covered by JR pass.

      I cannot guarantee to see snow in Nikko. If you go to Gala Yuzawa, you can see snow. You can get there as day trip from Tokyo.
      https://gala.co.jp/winter/english/

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

  5. Dear Takeshi-san,

    Good day !!

    I have a pasmo and suica card with me and my wife and have a good enough balance.

    We plan to go from ASAKUSA(TOBU/SUBWAY) to SHIMO-IMAICHI via rapid train.

    Can pasmo and suica cards balance be used at this line ?

    After that, by buying NIKKO PASS ALL area, can it be used for above rapid train or is it for travelling/transit in Nikko area only ?

    Please advise?

    1. Hi John san,

      You can use Pasmo or Suica to take train from Asakusa to Shimo-Imaichi. But if you use Nikko Pass, it includes Asakusa – Shimo-Imaichi round trip. Suica or Pasmo is not required. If you meant you want to take Limited Express train and want to pay surcharge by Suica or Pasmo, you cannot. Suica or Pasmo can be used for base fare only.

      Cheers,

      Takeshi / JPRail.com

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