These trains connect Shinjuku and Ikebukuro in Tokyo, and Nikko and Kinugawa-Onsen. These trains run on JR line and Tobu Railway line. That means you have to pay extra if you use JR Pass. JR Pass cover JR line portion only. But if you use JR East Passes, such as JR East Pass Nagano Niigata, Tokyo Wide Pass, JR East Pass Tohoku, both JR line and Tobu Railway lines are covered. This may be complicated for you.
In this post, I will tell you about Limited Express Nikko and Kinugawa. I also show you the extra fare on top of JR Pass.
Route, schedule and trip time
Limited Express “Nikko” connects Shinjuku with Nikko in 2 hours. “Kinugawa” connects Shinjuku with Kinugawa-Onsen in 2 hours and 15 minutes. They have 1 round tiip to Nikko from Shinjuku and 3 trips to Kinugawa-Onsen from Shinjuku. But you will have a few more extra trips during the peak season and long weekend. You can check the most updated timetable at JR East official website.
|to Nikko/Kinugawa||Nikko/Spacia Nikko||Kinugawa/Spacia Kinugawa|
|Tobu Nikko (東武日光)||x||–|
|Kinugawa Onsen (鬼怒川温泉)||–||x|
These trains are operated by JR fleet and Tobu Railway fleet. The train name which includes “Spacia” is operated by Tobu Railway’s fleet. Actually it is way better than JR fleet. I will show you the images of both fleets below.
View Limited Express Nikko and Kinugawa in a larger map
As you mentioned, these express train go through Tobu Railway line. You have to pay the extra if you use Japan Rail Pass. If you use JR East Pass Tohoku, JR East Pass Nagano Niigata, Tokyo Wide Pass, JR East South Hokkaido Rail Pass, these trains are covered fully. You can take Niiko, Spacia Nikko, Kinugawa and Spacia Kinugawa without extra charge.
The extra fares for JR pass are the following (as of May 2018):
Basic fare 970 yen
Limited express surcharge and reserved seat fee 2,060 yen
The fare is same for both bound for Nikko and Kinugawa-Onsen.
If you want to avoid any extra charge, you can take Tohoku Shinkansen and Nikko line local train. It is covered by JR pass fully. If you do not intend using any JR deals, you may take Tobu Railway from Asakusa. Please see the link below to learn more about access to Nikko.
If you take “Spacia Nikko” or “Spacia Kinugawa”, these trains have Green seat. But it is not regular Green seat but it is Green compartment. Even JR Pass Green does not cover this seat. You have to pay full charge which is another 6,000 yen per compartment. Nikko and Kinugawa do not have any Green seats.
Spacia Nikko and Spacia Kinugawa are operated by Tobu Railway car 100 series. Nikko and Kinugawa are operated by JR East refurbished 253 series. This 253 series was operated as Narita Express before. Aa I mentioned, the fleet of “Spacia” is way better than JR East 253 series.
Nikko and Kinugawa by JR East 253 series
R=Reserved ordinary seat
This fleet does not offer any Green class seat. These cars are refurbished and renovated, but these are more than 25 years old.
JR East is going to use refurbished 285 series (link to wikipedia image) which used to be Narita Express and will stop using 485 series. It is better change. But Spacia is still better than 285 series.
Spacia Nikko and Spacia Kingawa by Tobu Railway 100 series “Spacia”
R=Reserved ordinary seat GC=Green compartment
Spacia has Green seat. But as I mentioned to you, Japan Rail Pass does not cover this green seat. Even the reserved ordinary class give you very comfortable seating. It has almost same comfortability as the regular green seat. This series usually is used for the scheduled Sapcia Kinugawa only. We cannot find any Spacia to Nikko. But in the peak season, you may have Spacia Nikko.
JR East has the online reservation. Please see the link below to find more information:
I hope this post helps you to build your trip plan.