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

Nikko Kinugawa 253 seriesAizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima, Koriyama, Nikko, Kinugawa-Onsen
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

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 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.


  1. Nirun says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    Thank you for your prompt respond.
    If I take a Tobu skytree Line Section Rapid to Kinugawa onsen. At Shimo-Imaichi I must tranfer to Tobu Kinugawa Line or not because Hyperdia didn’t mention but it has 8 min gap. Has a window ticket for booking at Narita Airport or can booking at JR ticket office when I export a JR pass?
    Thanks again sorry with many question. Nirun

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Nirun,

      I cannot say you need to transfer or not. But 8 minutes is way enough to transfer if you need to. Shimo-Imaichi is a small station and usually train to Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen arrive at same platform. Transfer is quite simple.

      You can book at any JR stations around Tokyo. In Tokyo, all stations have ticket reservation window.


      Takeshi /

  2. Nirun says:

    Hi Takeshi,
    If I use JR pass from Tokyo station to Omiya and tranfer Ltd.Exp.Spacia Kinugawa to Kinugawa onsen. How much an extra fare I should pay and need to buy a new ticket at Omiya station again or pay include at Tokyo station? Thanks.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / says:

      Hi Nirun,

      If you transfer at Omiya, additional charge is same as the fare that is shown in the post above. You can purchase this portion in advance at any JR stations that have reservation window. In Tokyo area, all stations have reservation window that is called Midori no Madoguchi.


      Takeshi /

  3. Nuj says:

    Hi Takeshi

    My sister is planning a trip to Nikko in October.
    Her trip is

    Day 1: Tokyo
    Day 2: Tokyo – Nikko – Lake Chuzenji
    Day 3: Nikko – Kinugawa onsen
    Day 4: Kinugawa onsen – Tokyo
    Day 5: Tokyo

    I told her to buy All Nikko Pass as it covers all transportation in Nikko up to Lake Chuzenji.
    And also to Kinugawa onsen. While she’s in Tokyo, use Pasmo for a single trip.

    I would be happy to hear your thoughts.


  4. Everett says:

    Hi Takeshi,

    Just trying to understand the fare for the Spacia Kingawa, is the fare mentioned “Basic fare 940yen, Express Surcharge 2010yen” refering to the extra charge for JR pass (not East pass)?

    Thank you in advanced.

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi Everett,

      Extra charge was raised. Now extra charge on JR Pass is the following:
      Basic fare 970yen
      Express Surcharge 2060yen


      Takeshi / JP Rail

  5. doraepeat
    Doraemon says:

    May I ask you a question? I’m very confused. If I have a “JR KANTO PASS”, can I take a ride from Asakusa to Tobu-nikko(Spacia limited express Kegon) for free?

    Thank you in advance for replying

    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      Takeshi / JPRail says:

      Hi Doraemon,

      No, you can’t. You can take limited express from Shinjuku to Tobu-Nikko. But you can’t take it from Asakusa.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Dennis Argall
        Dennis says:

        This web site
        and their excellent android and ios apps will get you very accurate information about what trains are JR, what are private.

        The maps of Tokyo railway lines
        ( is good )
        do not make it easy to understand that there are actually three different railway stations in Asakusa:
        – the Asakusa Station at the end of the Ginza subway line
        – the adjacent Asakusa (Tobu) station of the Tobu company.
        – the Asakusa Station of the Tsukuba Express, which runs from Akihabara to Tsukuba, which is about one km away from the other two.

        All those are private railways. It really is useful to have a Suica card which you can buy at the airport or many station, and top up at any station, and get most of your money back if you want to hand it back on departure. That will cover non-JR all over that map at link above.

        If you study the map as much as possible and use hyperdia to consider possible routes, it’s easy when you arrive… sort of…

        We used the Tobu line from Asakusa to do this day trip..
        private rail up to Aizuwakamatsu, then JR to the west coast at Niigata and back to Tokyo by Shinkansen. Unless you are really strapped for cash, mixing the private and JR means you can do lots more.



  6. sanikosasih
    Sani says:

    Dear Takeshi,

    I am going to Nikko for a day on October 24th.
    I order the 7-days JR Pass, but I plan tol use it for traveling to Nara, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Osaka.
    So, I need your advice on how to get a day tour to Nikko and back to Tokyo without JR Pass.
    I read your post about Kanto Area Pass and JR East Pass, but I do not think it suits me since I only have a day. Or will it be cheaper anyway to buy this pass than combining single tickets to get in and get around Nikko?
    Thank you so much!

    Best regards,

  7. Dennis Argall
    Dennis says:

    Enjoyed your story of going towards Yunokami Onsen, but could not find the part beyond your stop for lunch. Did you write it somewhere?

    However, I wonder if it would not be simplest to take the Ginza line down to Asakusa and the Tubo train from there… Costs a bit more but a bigger struggle to use JR?

    thank you

    paste/edit from

    Take time: 207 Minutes Transfer: 2 Times Distance: 210.0 km
    Total:¥ 5,060(Fare:¥ 3,760 Seat Fee:¥ 1,300)

    Tobu Ltd. Exp. Kinu 103

    transfer KINUGAWA-ONSEN

    Tobu Kinugawa Line

    through SHIN-FUJIWARA

    Yagan Tetsudo Railway


    [16 Min]
    Aizu Railway

    through AIZUTAJIMA

    Aizu Railway


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Dennis,

      Thank you for reading my article. Actually I haven’t written about after Ashinomaki onsen. I will write it soon.

      Your trip plan is perfect. As I used JR deal, I tried to take JR train as much as possible. But Tobu railway is much easier and faster than JR when we go to Yunokami onsen.
      I just want to tell only one thing. When you transfer at Kinugawa onsen, you must be ready at passengers deck before arriving Kinugawa onsen. Many passengers may change the train from Ltd Exp Kinu to Aizu Mount Express at 10:01. Those trains will be at same platform. You can transfer in 10 seconds. But Aizu Mount Express is only two cars formation. There were lots of standing passengers in the train.

      If you want to secure your seat, must be ready to get off and transfer before arriving Kinugawa.


      Takeshi / JP Rail

      • Dennis Argall
        Dennis says:

        Thank you Takeshi!

        Good advice.

        Our thinking changes… also to make use of JR Pass. We only have 9 days staying in Asakusa from Australia and we plan to use JR pass for overnight to Kyoto as well as N’Ex, Yamanote, Chuo, etc.

        Also we realise that it’s difficult to go to Yunokami Onsen and back in a day, but it does seem feasible to go the much greater distance to Naruko Onsen for a day trip. Less time on train, more time soaking, at least soaking feet!

        I would be very interested in your thoughts: is this a good idea or too hectic? Times from Hyperdia below.

        Have you been to Naruko Onsen?

        best wishes


        Take time: 160 Minutes Transfer: 1 Times Distance: 426.9 km
        Total:¥ 11,440(Fare:¥ 6,830 Seat Fee:¥ 4,610)
        begin UENO
        transfer FURUKAWA
        JR Rikuu-East Line
        10:02 end NARUKO-ONSEN

        begin NARUKO-ONSEN
        [46 Min]
        JR Rikuu-East Line
        transfer FURUKAWA

        [111 Min]

        end UENO

        • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
          JPRail says:

          Hi Dennis,

          Actually this is much easier than Yunokami. I don’t think you will spend 5 hours there. Naruko is nice place but it does not have many things to do. I think 3 hours is enough as day trip. If you really really like hot springs and intend to try a few bathes, 3 hours may not be enough.

          If I go to Naruko as day trip, I will add Sendai, Hiraizumi or Yamadera via Yamagata.


          Takeshi / JP Rail

  8. Admin
    Songsak says:

    Thank you for your information. I’m just trying to search is there any extra pay for this train and found my answer here.

  9. How to purchase the limited express from Shinjuku to Nikko online? Will be visiting Nikko on Oct 12 till Oct 14, 2012. Hope to get the tickets earlier before I arrive Tokyo on Oct 6. Please advise!

  10. Jan says:

    I have just discovered for myself that trying to reserve tickets on the Spacia Kingawa train is useless from the JREast site ( as you mentioned above )
    As we will be travelling during Golden Week though, my question is – should I reserve seats between Shinjuku and Omiya for the 1st of May now and try and reserve the rest of the trip once we arrive in Japan ( the 26th April ) or would it be best just to wait until we get there to book it all at once?

    Thank you for such a great and helpful website as well. It is very informative and helpful.


    • Takeshi Shimomura, Author of
      JPRail says:

      Hi Jan,
      If you reserve your seat between Shinjuku and Omiya, it might make reserving a ticket for the rest of section easier. Because Shinjuku-Nikko is bigger demand than Omiya-Nikko. But it cannot guarantee to reserve your ticket.
      If you use Japan Rail Pass, you can reserve it without any extra charge. You can go ahead. If you cannot make the rest of your trip after you arrive in Japan, start to think about other option, like Shinkansen and Nikko line local train.
      Takeshi / JP Rail

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