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. Siew says:

    Hi. Am going to Kusastsu onsen from tokyo on 25 dec 2019. Then next day leave for nagano. I plan to take the limited express kusatsu train from tokyo to naganoharakusatsuguchi station. From there, the bus to kusatsu onsen. Is this the best way. Can i get the limited express train from shinjuku station..

    Also, from kusatsu to nagano. Take the limited express kusatsu train to takasaki and then shinkansen to nagano. I plan to buy the JR east pass.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi ( administrator) says:

      Hi Siew,

      You have picked the best route. But you cannot get the limited express Kusatsu from Shinjuku. You have to take the local train to get Ueno or Omiya. And then you can get on the limited express Kusatsu.

      You can get the Shinkansen from Takasaki to get Nagano. All train rides are covered by JR pass.


      Takeshi /

  2. May says:

    Hi, I’ve booked two nights at the Manza Prince Hotel, but I’m not clear about the direction to the hotel. To my understanding, I can take the Limited Ex Kusatsu from Ueno and get off at Manza Kazawaguchi station. I can then take a bus to the hotel. Am I correct? How long does it takes from Ueno to Kazawaguchi? Is there any rail pass that covers this trip? Is the bus service from Kazawaguchi to the hotel still affected by the typhoon in Oct? Thank you so much!


  3. Liwin says:

    Hi Takeshi san,

    I am planning on 3-4 days trip to Gunma prefecture. I will arrive in Narita and head to Ueno Station to ride the limited express Kusatsu. I plan to stay 1 night in Shima onsen, 1 night in Ikaho onsen and 2-3 nights in Kusatsu onsen. From Kusatsu I will head back to Tokyo.
    Apart from buying JR pass for 7 days, is there any other choice? Does Tokyo Wide Pass cover these area?

    Thank you

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi ( administrator) says:

      Hi Liwin san,

      Tokyo Wide Pass covers this area but it’s valid for 3 days only. And this pass covers only JR trains. The bus to Kusatsu onsen from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi is operated by JR Bus but this is not covered either. So even if you use Tokyo Wide Pass, you can use it for one way to Nakanojo by limited express Kusatsu and local train ride in this area. You cannot get the worth of it. The round trip between Tokyo area and Kusatsu area is required to get the worth at least. At this point, the regular fare ticket is the choice for your trip.

      JR pass 7-day is too expensive as well.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hello,
    Is it possible to reserve seats online for LTD. EXP KUSATSU from Ueno to
    NAGANOHARAKUSATSUGUCHI? I could not find it on JR East train reservation. Thank you in advance.
    Best Regards,

  5. tttellstheworld
    ttchan says:


    I’m planning to go to Kusatsu from Nikko and from Kusatsu to Ueno.

    My planned train itinerary as follow :-

    Nikko- Kusatsu
    8.52am Tobu Nikko Station – Tochigi Station
    via Nikko Kinugawa Revaty Kegon 14Toll Limited ExpressAsakusa
    9.39am Tochigi station – Shim-Maebashi Station
    JR Ryomo Line LocalTakasaki
    11.27am Shim-Maebashi Station – Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station
    via JR AkagiKusatsu 1Limited ExpressNaganohara-Kusatsuguchi

    Kusatsu – Ueno
    11.24am Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station – Shibukawa Station
    via JR Agatsuma Line Local Shim-Maebashi
    12.37pm Shibukawa Station – Takasaki Station
    via JR Joetsu Line Local Takasaki
    1.15pm Takasaki Station- Ueno Station
    via Hokuriku-Shinkansen Asama 616 AsamaTokyo

    I understand I can reserve Nikko Kinugawa Revaty Kegon 14Toll Limited ExpressAsakusa and Hokuriku-Shinkansen Asama 616 AsamaTokyo on Tobu and JR east website.

    My question is whether reservation is required for JR Ryomo Line LocalTakasaki,JR AkagiKusatsu 1Limited ExpressNaganohara-Kusatsuguchi, JR Agatsuma Line Local Shim-Maebashi and JR Joetsu Line Local Takasaki?

    If yes, how can I reserve? Will the train be full?

    If no reservation is required, do I just use icoca(I do not have suica) to take the train?

    I understand there are direct train from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station to Ueno but I wish to arrive Ueno earlier so I decided to take the train with transits.

    Appreciate your kind guidance as I couldn’t find this information on line

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi ttchan,

      Reservation is not required to take all local trains on your trip. You may book a seat for taking the limited express Kusatsu. But there are non reserved seat too. It’s hard to say how busy this train will be. If you don’t want to take any risks, you may book a seat. But you cannot book a seat online. You have to book a seat at the reservation window at any major JR station.

      You may use ICOCA for Tochigi to Naganoharakusatsuguchi.


      Takeshi /

  6. 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.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      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 /

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

  8. Ankit says:

    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

  9. Eric Tai says:


    Can I buy the Limited Express Kusatsu tickets for free if I purchase the The JR TOKYO Wide Pass?


  10. 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,

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