The limited express Kusatsu train guide. The direct access to Kusatsu-Onsen from Ueno, Tokyo

Limited Express
The limited express Kusatsu by 651 series (C) 651 series K106 Kusatsu Miyahara - ja:User:細谷侑希 (Yuki Hosoya) - ja:File:651series Kusatsu.jpg

Kusatsu Onsen Yubatake, (C) Kusatsu Onsen Tourism Association/JNTO

The limited express Kusatsu runs between Ueno in Tokyo and Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi. Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station is the nearest station to one of most famous hot springs resort, Kusatsu. JR Bus Kanto operates the local bus to Kusatsu Onsen.

I will explain about this train and access to Kusatsu Onsen by the bus from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi station.

Route, schedule and travel time

Kusatsu runs between Ueno and Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi. Some seasonal operation goes to Manza-Kazawaguchi. The number of trips are 2 round trips on weekdays and 1 more round trip on weekend.

The limited express Kusatsu operation route (click to view large)

The trip time is 2 hours 15 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes from Ueno to Naganohara Kusatsuguchi. The trip time is slightly different by the train.

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 covered by JR Pass. But Tokyo Wide Pass, JR East Pass Nagano Niigata, JR East Pass Tohoku, JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass cover only the limited express Kusatsu. These passes do not cover the bus to Kusatsu Onsen.

Several buses are dispatched for the arrival of the limited express Kusatsu. It is very well connection between the train and the bus. Please see the details in the post below.


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

The limited express Kusatsu is operated by 651 series. 651 series has very nice interior. Especially in Green car, seat layout is 2+1 configuration. The leg space is 1160mm. In the ordinary cars, it is JR East standard that are 2+2 seat layout and 910mm seat pitch.

651 series train formation


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

651 series Images

Green class seat (C) Green Car’s Seat of JR 651 – Lover of Romance
Ordinary class seat (C) Seat of JR 651 – Lover of Romance
Ordinary class seats (C) JRE-651syanai – ゆりのき橋


  1. David says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I do not have a JR Pass and do not plan on buying one.
    How much would a trip to Kusatsu Onsen cost?

    Thank you

  2. Selena says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    I am planning to go to travel from Tokyo to Kusatsu Onsen and have a one night stay then return to Tokyo.

    What would be the cheapest way to travel there.
    I saw that there is a LTD Kusatsu Express Bus that would take abour 4 hours and cost around 3000 YEN.

    Could you please advise?
    Thank you

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Selena,

      I’m not familiar with the bus services. But if you see the bus at 3000 yen, that is most affordable way to get there.


      Takeshi /

  3. Sierra says:


    I am looking to make a reservation online to go from Ueno to Nakanojo in May but am having a very hard time finding a way to make reservations for the JR Express Kusatsu line. Do you know how I could do that?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Sierra,

      Unfortunately you cannot book for this train online.
      JR East online reservation is only way to book online. But this site does not cover limited express Kusatsu. You have to book it after you arrive in Japan.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hi Takeshi San,

    I would like to go to Kashiwaya Ryokan in Gunma. On the website it says that I can take Direct Express Kusatsu from Ueno to Nakanojo Station. I would like to know the price from Ueno – Nakanojo but I’m having a hard time to find it. Could you please help me? Thank you 🙂

  5. agonylover – I am who I am.
    Ritzel says:

    Hello Takashi san,

    Would like to consult you about my upcoming trip from Ebisu to Kusatsu.

    I read somewhere that the Kusatsu Ltd Express only runs on Saturday and Holidays (from Ueno Station)? I planned for the 10am train on Sunday, may I ask if train is available at Ueno station on that day?

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Ritzel san,

      Kusatsu runs everyday. Only 9:00 departure runs on weekend and holidays. 10:00 departure runs everyday.

      You can catch any Kusatsu at Ueno station.


      Takeshi /

  6. Joe Pan says:

    Hi Takeshi-San,
    I change my itinerary in this area, could you please give me some advice.

    Day 1 matsumoto – Nagano /obuse overnight

    Day 2 Nagano -kusatsu via takasaki and naganohara (fully covered by jr all pass , right?) overnight in taka saki.

    Day 3 from takasaki day trip to niigata via echigoyuzawa by toki train.
    Overnight in takasaki.

    Day 4 takasaki -karuizawa -Ueno. Stay in ueno for 2 nights before heading back home.

    Between echigo-yuzaw and niigata am I able to go and back both by taking the toki train? In that case I have about 3hrs in niigata, is that ok to stroll around in town?

    Takeshi-San, Could you also please tell me what transport options from ueno to nakada airport.


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Joe san,

      I don’t see any issues on your plan. It looks okay.

      Do you mean Genbi Shinkansen between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata. Actually all Shinkansen trains to/from Niigata are called Toki. Anyway you can take Genbi Shinkasnen both. But you don’t need to take it both ways. One way may be okay. There are lots of other ordinary Toki from Niigata to Takasaki. If you take it from Echigo-Yuzawa to Niigata and are satisfied, you can take ordinary Toki to go back to Takasaki. You may have more time in Niigata.

      But Niiagata does not have many places to see. Actually I have never had sightseeing in Niigata. 3 hours is enough in my opinion.

      At last, do you mean Narita airport from Ueno. If so, Keisei railway connects these places directly.


      Takeshi /

      • Joe Pan says:

        Hi Takeshi-San,

        Thanks for your reply.
        Yes, I mean genbi shinkansen, I can only see toki in timetable, is toki 451 (8:24), 453 (12:44) , 455 (15:20) depart from echigo-yuzawa the Genbi Shinkansen ? Apart from niigata do you recommend any stops along the line or anything interesting around echigo-yuzaw ?

        Sorry I mean from ueno to Haneda Airport.

        From shirahama to matsumoto, I know it’s a long trip.
        I check HyerDia and Google for the same route(shirahama – shin-osaka -Nagoya -matsumoto ) , Google being one hr faster for the whole journey by taking tokaido-sanyo shinkansen from Shin-osaka to nagoya, does it mean this shinkansen is the fastest one that not covered by the jr pass?
        Do you know any better route than this one?

        Cheers Takeshi-San

      • Joe Pan says:

        One more question, Takeshi-San.
        Can I reserve the Genbi Shinkansen once I arrive in japan?
        Apart from Genbi, there are more popular trains, like lbusuki’s玉手箱, 海幸山幸, Aso etc that I’m looking for, can I reserve them all at once?


  7. limlivia
    Livialim says:

    Hallo Takeshi San…

    If I using JR Kanto Area Pass,

    Can I cover the area hitachi seaside park, kusatsu onsen and kawaguchiko

    Day 1, morning take train ueno take train to katsuta (hitachi seaside park) by JR Joban line stay for half day, afternoon to naganoharakusatsuguchi on LTD EXP Hitachi, Shinkansen Hakutaka, JR agatsuma line via UENO and TAKASAKI

    Day 2 travel back to UENO from naganoharakusatsuguchi via TAKASAKI on JR Agatsuma line and Shinkansen MAX TANIGAWA or ASAMA

    Day 3 day trip from UENO to Kawaguchiko via SHINJUKU on LTD EXP Narita Express

    Await for your advise and thanks a lot

  8. Shasta says:

    Thanks for finally talking about > Japan Rail Pass and rail travel in Japan complete guide –

  9. Chris says:

    Hi Takeshi San

    Just to check with you … Does the Kanto Area pass cover the Limited Express Kusatsu train and shuttle bus to Kusatsu by JR Bus Kanto and Shinkansen ?

    Example of train from Kusatsu to Ueno :

    Time Route 17:30
    [87 Min] JR Agatsuma Line
    TAKASAKI [48 Min]
    UENO [ Arrival track No.21 ]

    Does the above trains all being covered by Kanto Area Pass ?

    Thank you

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Chris,

      As I mentioned in previous reply, bus is not covered. All train trips to Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi are covered.
      Japan Rail Pass covers bus service too, but Kanto Area Pass does not.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  10. 1) How can I reserve seats on Limted Express Kusatsu train online?
    The JR East Reservation website offers online reservation on shinkansens and some Limited Express, but I couldn’t find any options for the train.
    2) How can I reserve JR Bus Aomori-Towadako online?

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