Nikko Kinugawa 253 series

The limited express Nikko and Kinugawa. The train connects Shinjuku and Nikko, Kinugawa Onsen directly

Tobu Railway Limited Express "Spacia" (C) Sonic Rail Garden
Tobu Railway Limited Express “Spacia” (C) Sonic Rail Garden

These trains connect Shinjuku in Tokyo and Nikko, 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 the limited express Nikko and Kinugawa. I also show you the extra fare on top of JR Pass.

Route, schedule and trip time

The limited express “Nikko” connects Shinjuku with Nikko in 2 hours. “Kinugawa” connects Shinjuku with Kinugawa-Onsen in 2 hours and 15 minutes. You can find the timetable of these trains in JR East official timetable in the link below:

JR East official site – the timetable

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 the train fleet of “Spacia” 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

Extra fare

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 October 2019):
Basic fare 990 yen
Limited express surcharge and reserved seat fee 2,100 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

Refurbished 253 series will be used for Nikko and Kinugawa
Refurbished 253 series will be used for Nikko and Kinugawa

R=Reserved ordinary seat

This fleet does not offer any Green class seat. These cars are refurbished and renovated but these are nearly 30 years old.

Ordinary class seat
Ordinary class seat
Entrance deck
Baggage space

Spacia Nikko and Spacia Kinugawa by Tobu Railway 100 series “Spacia”

Tobu Railway 100 series Spacia
Tobu Railway Limited Express 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.

Ordinary class seat
Ordinary class seat
Green compartment
Green compartment


JR East has the online reservation. Please see the link below to find more information:

JR East online reservation

I hope this post helps you to build your trip plan.

160 thoughts on “The limited express Nikko and Kinugawa. The train connects Shinjuku and Nikko, Kinugawa Onsen directly”

  1. Hi Mr Takeshi,

    I’m heading to Kinugawa Onsen directly from Narita Airport the moment touching down at 9.30am by using JR Tokyo Wide Pass in mid April with 4 members. So my route as follow – Narita Express – Shinjuku Station – Kinugawa Onsen Station. I will purchase directly the pass upon my arrival. Just wondering does the train runs at all time since I do not reserve any seat. Can i arrive to the destination on the same day. And for the platform to Kinugawa Onsen from Shinjuku Station as I googled it is the same as i arrive by Narita Express. Please advise.



    1. Hi Phoony,

      The train runs a few trip to Kinugawa onsen from Shinjuku. But all seats require the booking. You cannot take this train without booking. In my view, you will be okay to get a seat even if you try to do it after arrival. There are two trip from Shinjuku. I believe you can take either one.

      You have to leave Narita by 11:14 departure Narita Express 16.

      As long as your flight arrives on time and everything is okay, you can catch this one. The platform is usually same for Narita Express and Kinugawa. But please check the departure information board at the platform. If you are not sure, ask a station staff.


      Takeshi /


      Takeshi /

      1. Hi Mr Takeshi,

        Thank you very much on your valuable info. Which mean i have to reserve my booking on the spot when purchase my JR Tokyo Wide Pass at Narita Airport. Besides this do i have any alternative route.



        1. Hi Phoony,

          That’s right. You have to book a seat upon arrival at Narita airport.

          We have the alternative route but this you have to change trains many times and not recommended. I just put the route for your info:
          Narita airport (Narita Express) Tokyo
          Tokyo (Tohoku Shinkansen) Utsunomiya
          Utsunomiya (JR Nikko line local train) Nikko
          Nikko (walk 5 minutes) Tobu-Nikko
          Tobu-Nikko (Tobu railway local train) Shimo-Imaichi
          Shimo-Imaichi (Tobu Railway local train) Kinugawa-Onsen

          This above route is covered by Tokyo Wide Pass fully.


          Takeshi /

  2. Hi Takeshi,

    I’m planning to go to Nikko specifically Edo wonderland on mid March. If I’m planning to use Tokyo wide pass, could you suggest which options is better. Since I have a kid with me, I would like to cut the hustle of the long trip to nikko.

    I’ll be staying at Togoshi, shinagawa area. Hence, I’m confused whether to take shinkansen from tokyo to utsunomiya or direct train from shinjuku to nikko. Your suggestions will be much appreciated. Thanks!

      1. Thanks for your response. Just to be sure, you meant the limited express kinugawa and not the Spacia type.

        Is this correct?

        Since I planned to leave for Edo wonderland early morning, can I use the limited express kinugawa from shinjuku but for the return trip, I will board the Spacia kinugawa. Is this doable?

        Thanks in advance

        1. Hi Aishah,

          Unfortunately you cannot leave in early morning by the limited express Kinugawa. Please see the link below to find the timetable:

          It’s Spacia Kinugawa but the first scheduled one is 10:31 departure. And please see the link below for return trip:

          15:05 is the last one.

          If you use Tokyo Wide Pass and try to get Kinugawa onsen directly, the choice is very limited. But if you don’t use Tokyo Wide Pass and use Tobu Railway, the train runs much more frequently. In this case, take subway from Togoshi to Asakusa. You have to pay a regular fare which is around 200 to 300 yen one way. From Asakusa, you can take the limited express Kinu. Many of the limited express Kinu is operated by Spacia. You can find the timetable and the discounted ticket for Asakusa to Kinugawa onsen in the link below:

          I think this is better choice for you.

          I have done the trip to Edo Wonderland in the last spring. Please find my trip report in the link below:


          Takeshi /

  3. Hello Takeshi,

    The information in this article is very helpful. We will be using a regular JR Pass, and plan to ride Narita Express to Ikebukuro and then board Kinugawa to Kinugawa-onsen. Is the train departing always from the same platform?

    I know we need to pay the extra fee when using Kinugawa express. Do we have to pay the surcharge and reservation fees?

    1. Hi Tadeusz,

      In most cases, trains arrive and depart at same platform in Shinjuku station. So I recommend you to change trains at Shinjuku. At Ikebukuro, you may need to chagne the platform. But you must make sure when you get either Shinjuku. You may ask the conductor on Narita Express which platform the limited express Kinugawa leaves in Shinjuku station. He/she can tell you the actual info.

      You must pay a base fare and reserved seat fee to take this train from Shinjuku.


      Takeshi /

  4. Hello Takeshi-san!

    I plan on visiting Nikko in the summer next year and I have a couple questions.

    It says that the Spacia is available on peak seasons. Is July considered peak season?

    Also, for the compartment, does it have to be a full compartment? (Four people) or can it be 3 or two?



    1. Hi Nicholas san,

      The compartment fee is 3,150 yen for weekday and 3,770 yen for weekend. This fee is room fee. You have to add this fee on top of the limtied express seat fee and base fare. So as long as you pay this fee (3,150 yen or 3,770 yen), you can use a compartment by 2 or 3. Even solo passenger can use ot.

      Most public school start summer break on July 20th. After this, it is busy.


      Takeshi /

  5. Hi Takeshi,
    On hyperdia, using the 8:02 example, one train route is hamamatsucho-yurakucho-ikebukuro (8:02-8:06/8:10-8:30)
    The other also leaving at 8:02 is hammatsucho- ikebukuro (8:02-8:33)
    I’ve tried to decipher if there’s a way to distinguish the direct train. Will the platform signs tell me that one stops & changes at Yurakucho?

    By transferring at Yurakucho, it means getting of the train and getting into another OR do I stay on the same train? As it’s peak hour, I’m hoping to not change trains as it’ll be packed.

  6. Hi Takeshi
    I’m heading to Kinugawaonsen directly from Haneda using JR East Sth pass.
    To do so, I’m taking this route : Hnd-Hamamatsucho-ikebukuro-Kinugawaonsen.
    Looking at Hyperdia there’s a direct train from Ikebukuro-Kinugawaonsen on the Yamanote line (inner loop) for Ikebukuro or for Osaki.
    Take an example 8:02 train. There are 2 trains leaving at the same time- one direct to ikebukuro,the other via Yurakucho. How does one determine the direct one vs the other.
    If there was a platform no.,it would help but not stated on hyperdia.
    So the question is on the platform,is there a way of determining this easily? I guess even with a small roller, I want to avoid changes.

    1. Hi Ames,

      Actually both trains go to Ikebukuro directly. You don’t need to change trains at Osaki. If take train for Osaki, you can stay in same train at Osaka and train proceed to Ikebukuro. Yamanote line is a loop line. Train runs continuously. So you can pick the faster train to get Ikebukuro. You can find the info about Hamamatsucho station in the link below:


      Takeshi /

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