Nikko is also accessible via Tobu Railways from Tokyo. The Tobu terminal station in Tokyo for trains to Nikko is Tobu Asakusa Station, which can be accessed by subway.
There are hourly rapid trains (kaisoku) between Asakusa and Nikko, which take about 125 minutes and cost 1320 Yen one way. In the morning and afternoon, there are also a few limited express trains (all seats reserved) called "Kegon" which only take 105 minutes, but cost 2620 Yen one way.
**All prices subject to change.
Tobu also offers various free passes, which includes the round trip to Nikko (by kaisoku) and unlimited usage of buses in the Nikko area.
Please note, however, the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on Tobu trains.
Nikko can be reached by Tobu Railways or Japan Railways (JR).
Take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen (from Tokyo or Ueno Station) to Utsunomiya Station, where you transfer to the JR Nikko Line. With a good connection at Utsunomiya, the one way trip takes about 100 minutes and costs around 5000 Yen (subject to change).
We took the JR train because we were travelling on a JR Rail Pass. If you don't have the pass, taking the JR option is more expensive. It is only a good option for those that have the JR Rail Pass. If not, I will recommend taking the Tobu line (see next transport tip)
It is about two kms from Nikko town railway station to the Tosho-gu shrine area. It is a bit uphill, but it is a pleasant walk, at list early in the morning. The last 500 m (after the bridge) are through the shrine park, with lush vegetation around.
Most people arrive to Nikko by train.
There is a local train line from Tokyo (NOT the national JR) directly to Nikko; trains are a bit old fashioned (nothing to do with the Shinkansen) and slow (about 2 hrs) but it's OK. The other chance is to arrive by regular JR train from Utsunomiya. The railway station is in Nikko town, about 2 kms from the Tosho-gu shrines.
The Tobu train company offers a varieties of train and bus passes that take you from Tokyo (Asakusa) to Nikko and the area beyond. It really is a good deal if you are spending at least a couple of days there. There is so muuh to see in that area, with lots of outdoor activities. With the pass, you can board a Tobu bus and stop anywhere you like. The ride up to Yumoto Onsen, for example, is already over 1000 yen.
Make sure you get into the right car in Asakusa station, with the destination "Nikko" clearly indicated on the side of the train, as well as inside. As they take some cars out beyond a certain point.
If you are planning for a same day return trip, you can buy the one-way ticket, at the station. Or get discounted ticket from the discounted ticket shops. There is a few in front of Shinjuku station.
The easist way to get to Nikko from Tokyo is an express train of Tobu Railway, named SPACIA. Though the train is narrow gauge despite its name, the seats are comfortable.
SPACIA is a generic name for limited express trains of Tobu. Actual trains are named Kegon or Kinu depending on its destination.
Fare: From Asakusa to Nikko, 1320 yen (transportation fare) + 1300 yen (express fare). Express far is 1400 yen on weekends and 1000 yen at night. A compartment for 4 adults costs extra 3000 yen (3600 yen for weekends).
Took the special express train (1 hour 45 minutes) from Asakusa station, via Utsunomiya to Nikko using Tobu line. Get a bento to eat in the train.
Alternatively, you can take a day bus tour from Tokyo.
Tobu Travel Tokusen No Tabi "Kinugawa Yu-yu Plan" is a package of Tobu Railway express train from Tokyo and a hotel accommodation in Kinugawa Onsen, sold by Tobu Travel.
This includes: 1) Roundtrip by a limited express train from Asakusa, Tokyo, to Kinugawa Onsen with free train rides in Kinugawa and Nikko area, and 2) accommodation at a hotel in Kinugawa Onsen with some benefits such as free use of karaoke room and ping-pong room, etc.
The price ranges from 13,500 yen to 25,600 yen per person depending of season, week of day and number of people per room. We used this plan from Wednesday through Thursday in mid September, before the autumn foliage, by two persons. The price was 16,100 yen for one person.
If you want to go to Nikko / Kinugawa area by train and enjoy onsen, this is a very good plan.
The Tobu World Heritage Pass seems to be the cheapest way to go there. 3600 Yen for a return trip from Tobu Asakusa Station valid 2 day's including the bus to the tempels, and the entrance fee for Rinno-ji (under renovation at the moments), Toshu-gu, Futarasan-jinja and Taiyuin-byo.
Buy the pass at groundfloor of the Tobu Asakusastation.
The train ticket by itself is 1320 Yen each way, the bus 250 Yen each way and the combined entrance fee is 1000 Yen (the ticket for Toshu-gu is 1350 Yen if bought alone). The Seishun18kippu ticket from JR would be 2300 Yen per day in a 5 day pack unlimited travel on very slow trains in vacation times only. It is a quite interresting ticket but in the case of Nikko only if you walk and avoid paying the entrance fees.
If you don't have a Japan Rail pass and you're staying in the Asakusa area of Tokyo, you may also take the Tobu railways direct train from Asakusa station to Nikko. At 1hr and 40 minutes, time is pretty much comparable to the JR train combination of Shinkansen and Nikko line, but it is a cheaper option for those without the pass.
Nikko is served by both JR and Tobu Railways.
For most people, Tobu Railways is the most useful and cost-effective. The World Heritage Sites are accessible from Tobu-Nikko Station. Some trains go directly there, but you can also transfer at Shimo-Ichi Station. Tobu Railways also serves the Kinugawa Onsen area.
Here are some of the Tobu Railway stations with nearby attractions:
-Tobu-Nikko Station: Toshogu Shrine, Rinnoji Temple, Futarasan Shrine, Shinkyo Bridge, Tamozawa Villa, Botanical Garden, Kanmangafuchi Abyss (By bus, the sites in Oku-Nikko can also be reached from here)
-Kosagoe Station: Tobu World Square
-Kinugawa-Onsen Station: Kinugawa River Cruise Port (By bus, you can reach Nikko Edomura, Grand Maze Palladium, and Takehisa Yumeji Art Museum)
-Kinugawa-Koen Station: Nikko Doll Museum
JR Railways has connections to Nikko via Utsunomiya. Nikko Station is located near Tobu-Nikko Station, so you can access all of the sites listed above under Tobu-Nikko from JR's Nikko Station, as well. Most travelers from Tokyo will find Tobu Railways to be better (cheaper and less time-consuming) than JR unless you have a JR Pass or the Seishun 18 ticket.
I was on a coach tour from Tokyo. But, if you are familiar with the Japan Rail, self-exploration is highly recommended. Nikko is a city to be discovered on your own!
To find your way there, check with JAPAN TRAVEL UPDATES (PDF Format): Click Here
For travel on Japan Rail, take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Utsunomiya. For info on JR trains & passes, please proceed to JREast.co.jp.
By Train : There are two ways to go by train, but Tobu Railways offers the best price. Departing from Tobu Asakusa Station, travel time is one hour and fifty-five minutes with the one-way ticket costing Y1,320 for open seating and an extra Y1,420 for a reserved seat. Taking the JR Bullet Train to Utsunomiya and then local train to Nikko, the one-way fee is Y4,920, and travel time is one hour and 20 minutes.
By Bus : The Sacred Bridge and the main shrine area are within walking distance from the train Stations and a local bus is available for Y980 from Tobu Nikko Station to transport people up the Iroha Slope to Kegon Falls.
The Japan Rail Pass is a special ticket that is available only to travelers visiting Japan from foreign countries for sight-seeing. Tickets need to be purchased outside of Japan. Validity is 7, 12 or 21 days and can be used on buses, Ferries and Trains.
We took the JR Train from Kyoto to Nikko which took us less than 1 hour and we are in another different place.
There are 2 stations in Nikko, one for JR trains, the other for normal trains. If you have the Japan Rail Pass and took the JR train, you will alight at the JR station which is the oldest wooden station in eastern Japan.