Limited Express Kusatsu, most convenient access to Kusatsu-Onsen from Ueno, Tokyo

651 series was introduced instead of older 185 series. (C) 651 series K106 Kusatsu Miyahara  - ja:User:細谷侑希 (Yuki Hosoya) - ja:File:651series Kusatsu.jpg
651 series was introduced instead of older 185 series. (C) 651 series K106 Kusatsu Miyahara – ja:User:細谷侑希 (Yuki Hosoya) – ja:File:651series Kusatsu.jpg

Kusatsu (草津) is operated between Ueno (上野) and Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi (長野原草津口) and Manza-Kazawaguchi (万座・鹿沢口). Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station is the nearest station to one of most famous hot springs resort, Kusatsu. JR Bus Kanto operates the shuttle bus between this station and Kusatsu Onsen.

This train, Limited Express Kusatsu and shuttle bus to Kusatsu by JR Bus Kanto are fully covered by Japan Rail Pass. Let’s see the details.

Route, schedule and travel time

Kusatsu is operated between Ueno and Manza-Kazawaguchi. The number of trips are 2 round trips on weekdays and 1 more round trip on weekend.

View Limited Express Kusatsu in a larger map


Ueno (上野)x
Akabane (赤羽)x
Urawa (浦和)x
Omiya (大宮)x
Ageo (上尾)*
Kumagaya (熊谷)x
Fukaya (深谷)*
Honjo (本庄)*
Takasaki (高崎)x
Shin-Maebashi (新前橋)x
Shibukawa (渋川)x
Nakanojo (中之条)x
Gunmaharamachi (群馬原町)*
Kawarayu-Onsen (川原湯温泉)x
Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi (長野原草津口)x
Manza-Kazawaguchi (万座・鹿沢口)x

x:All trains stop *:some trains stop

Connection to the JR Bus to Kusatsu Onsen

The bus service to Kusatsu Onsen from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station is operated by JR Bus Kanto. This bus service is completely covered by Japan Rail Pass. Several buses are dispatched for the arrival of Limited Express Kusatsu. It is very well connection between train and bus. Please see the details at How to access to Kusatsu Onsen. Japan Rail Pass covers all part of trip to Kusatsu.


Kusatsu is operated by 651 series. This train used to be operated by 185 series. But 185 series is very old and is used for seasonal operation only.

651 series has very nice interior. Especially in Green car, seat layout is 2+1 configuration. The seat pitch is 1160mm. In Ordinary cars, it is JR East standard that are 2+2 seat layout and 910mm seat pitch.

185 series was designed for all purpose. That means this series was expected to use for not only limited express but also rapid and local train. It was sometimes used for a local train. The accommodation was a bit less than the standard of other fleet for limited trains. Interior was renovated and comfortableness is much better than when this train was introduced. So that this train was expected to use for local train, this is only trains for limited express that has a window you can open.

The seat pitch in Green seat is 1160mm. It is the standard size of most JR trains. But the seat configuration is 2+2. It is same configuration as ordinary class. The seat is okay but it is not reached to the standard of green class seat.

The seat pitch in Ordinary seat is 910mm. It is very common ordinary class seat.

*Sonic Rail Garden has copyright for all images of accommodations below.

651 series train formation


R=Reserved ordinary seat NR=Non-Reserved ordinary seat G=Green car seat

651 series Images

Green Car's Seat of JR 651 - Lover of Romance Ordinary seat of JR 651 651 series ordinary class interior

Photo credit for above interior photos
Green Car’s Seat of JR 651 – Lover of Romance
Seat of JR 651 – Lover of Romance
JRE-651syanai – ゆりのき橋

Limited Express Kusatsu is operated by one of the oldest model, 185 series. (C) Sonic Rail Garden

185 series train formation (seasonal operation)


R=Reserved ordinary seat NR=Non-Reserved ordinary seat

185 series Images

Green seat

Ordinary seat

Sanitary space

Entrance deck and common space

40 thoughts on “Limited Express Kusatsu, most convenient access to Kusatsu-Onsen from Ueno, Tokyo”

  1. Hello Mr.Takeshi, is it possible to reserve a seat on the Limited Express Kusatsu online?

    And if I didn’t reserve a seat and there’s no seat available on the train will I be forced out or stand for the entire journey?

    Thank you for your clarification on this specific train.

    1. Hi Ashley,

      Unfortunately you cannot book a ticket online. If all seats are booked out, you still have a chance to find a seat in non reserved car. If all seats are occupied in even non reserved car, you can stand on the isle. You don’t need to get off the train if you are okay.


      Takeshi /

  2. Hello JPRail,
    Is this express is included in JR Pass? Since i’m planning to buy the 7 days JR Pass. Thankyou!

  3. Hi Team,

    I am planning to buy 3 days JR tokyo wide pass

    Day1 – Gala Yuzawa
    Day 2- Kusatsu Onsen but i am not sure how i will reach there with the help of Tokyo wide pass and how long my journey will be covered under this pass
    Day 3- NasuKogen (Please confirm the trains which covered under this pass

  4. Hi Takeshi San

    I will be travelling from Karuizawa to Kusatsu Onsen and then from Kusatsu Onsen back to Ueno.

    I know the bus from Karuizawa to Kusatsu Onsen is not covered under any JR Pass. (Do you know if the bus operates in Dec? The bus schedule is only until Nov.)

    Would like to know if the following are covered by the JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass:
    – JR Bus Kanto from Kusatsu Onsen to Naganohara
    – Limited express train from Naganohara to Ueno
    – Local trains between Naganohara and Takasaki
    – Shinkansen from Takasaki to Ueno

    I am planning to buy the JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass before arrival in Japan. When is the start of the 14-day period? Is it from date of purchase of pass or first day of activation?

    Appreciate your advice. Thank you very much!

    Warm regards,

    1. Hi Jesmine,

      I have no idea about winter bus schedule between Karuizawa and Kusatsu onsen. It will come up later.

      JR East pass does not cover any bus services. So Kusatsu onsen to Naganohara is not covered. But other train trips are covered.

      When you purchase JR East Pass, you will be asked when you want to start using it. This is the first date.

      Purchase December 1
      First day of use December 4

      14 days will be counted from December 4.


      Takeshi /

          1. Hi Takeshi san,

            May I know if I need to buy tickets and reserve seats in advance for the shinkansen and Limited express trains? If so, can I buy them at any train stations?
            Thank you!

            Warm regards,

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