How to Reach Nikko in Japan by train

Nikko is a popular tourist destination in Japan. It consists of many attractive places like Toshogu Shrine, Rinnoji Temple, Chuzenji Lake, Kegon Waterfalls etc.

How to Reach Nikko by Train:

By Tobu

The fastest and most convenient way to access Nikko is on the private Tōbu Nikkō Line  from Tokyo's Tobu-Asakusa station.

Tōbu Railway runs all-reserved limited express services, known as tokkyū  trains, to the area. These trains, which use Tobu's "SPACIA" railroad equipment, have comfortable, reclining seats, with vending machines and KIOSK available on most trains. One service, called Kegon  runs directly from Asakusa to Nikko in the morning, and back to Asakusa in the afternoon. There is one daily departure from Asakusa at 7:30 am, and depending on the season, there may be an additional departure at 9:30 am. The other service, Kinu, departs from Asakusa more frequently, but branches off to Kinugawa so you will need to transfer at Shimo-Imaichi station  to a local shuttle train for the final 10-minute run to Nikko. This train is timed to meet the Kinu arrival. Both the Kegon run, and the Kinu run with transfer, take about 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Regular direct trains, which depart from Asakusa about each hour, cost ¥1320 each way. Rapid, or Kaisoku trains, take two hours; the slower Section Rapid, or Kukan-Kaisoku takes 2 1/2 hours. You must board one of the last two cars, since the train divides en route.

In addition, Tōbu Railway offers three convenient passes for Nikko and Kinugawa hot spring area, which can be used only by visitors to Japan.

   1. All Nikko Pass [3] allows unlimited buses and train access in the Nikko and Kinugawa area and includes some discounts for nearby attractions, but does not include entry to the shrines. Valid for 4 days, cost ¥4400. Recommended for visitors coming to see Nikko's lakes and falls.

   1. World Heritage Pass [4] covers a round-trip to Nikko and Kinugawa and includes admission to the shrines. Valid for 2 days, cost ¥3600. Some discounts for Kinugawa Theme Park are also included.

   1. Kinugawa Themepark Pass [5] covers round-trip fare, bus pass and admission to Tobu World Square. Basic two-day pass ¥4000, up to ¥7200 if you add in Edo Wonderland and Nikko Edo Village as well.

All three passes allows unlimited train rides (regular trains only) from Shimo-Imaichi to Tobu-Nikko and Kinugawa Hot Spring Stations. These passes are only valid for trains departing from Asakusa - they cannot be used for trains leaving Shinjuku or Ikebukuro. For those, see the joint JR/Tobu route below.

These passes can be booked online. For ¥1000 extra, you can get reserved seats and travel on the limited express services.

You can get these passes at Tobu Sightseeing Service Center, right next to the north exit of Tobu Railway's Asakusa Station. Staff who can speak English are available.


Travel by JR costs more and takes longer, and isn't really worth considering unless you have a Japan Rail Pass, in which case you can take the Tohoku Shinkansen (Yamabiko, Max Yamabiko, Tsubasa or Nasuno) from Tokyo Station or Ueno to Utsunomiya (50 minutes or 44 minutes, respectively), then connect to the JR Nikko line (43 minutes from Utsunomiya to Nikko). From Tokyo Station, the whole trip will take from about 1 hour 40 minutes to around 2 hours, depending mostly on the connection in Utsunomiya.

By JR and Tobu

In March of 2006, JR East and Tobu began joint limited-express service from Shinjuku station to the Nikko area.

This service offers one daily round-trip between Shinjuku and Tobu-Nikko station. The Nikko limited express departs Shinjuku at 7:12, and makes stops at Ikebukuro and Omiya, then continues via JR tracks to Kurihashi station, where control of the train is turned over to Tobu. Operating over the Tobu Nikko line, the train then makes three more stops before terminating at Tobu-Nikko. The one-way journey lasts about two hours.

Other limited express trains depart Shinjuku for Kinugawa, so you will have to transfer to a shuttle train at Shimo-Imaichi for the final run to Tobu-Nikko. This also takes about two hours. This service is all in addition to Tobu's regularly-scheduled Kegon and Kinu service into and out of Asakusa.

Seat reservations are mandatory, and the fare for this journey is ¥3900 each way. Japan Rail Pass holders can use this limited express train departing Shinjuku for ¥1560 each way (covering the portion of the trip between Kurihashi and Tobu-Nikko).

Holders of the JR East Rail Pass, on the other hand, may use the service to Nikko at no additional charge; the trip is fully covered. Unlike the regular Japan Rail Pass, the JR East Pass also covers local Tobu trains between Shimo-Imachi and Tobu-Nikko, and Shimo-Imaichi and Kinugawa-Onsen. You will have to pay separate fares for any services that are not covered.

If you plan on taking this service in both directions, consider the JR Tobu Nikko Kinugawa Free Pass (¥7800), sold to Japanese and foreigners alike. Valid for three consecutive days, it includes one round-trip on the joint JR/Tobu limited express service and unlimited travel on local Tobu trains and buses within that area. It does not include admission to the Nikko temples.

There are luggage lockers at the JR Nikko Station.

Source: Wikipedia

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