Raonic eliminated Murray, the tournament's top seed and defending champion, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4) over a 2-hour, 46 minute match. Raonic ended with a 3-1 advantage in breaks but two of those came in the first set, including in the first game when he broke Murray at love.
After that the match was played very evenly. Murray didn't get a break chance in the second set but managed to pull even. However, Raonic fought off four of Murray's five third-set chances in forcing the final tie-breaker. Murray had opportunities to win the match in two of those break points.
Nishikori, who was born in Japan, easily handled Marcos Baghdatis 6-2, 6-2 in just more than an hour in his semifinal. The eighth-seeded Nishikori didn't allow Baghdatis a break opportunity and lost only 10 points over eight games serving.
Nishikori is the first Japanese player to earn a spot in the finals of the Japan Open.
Saturday's final will mark the first career meeting between Raonic, seeded sixth at Tokyo, and Nishikori. Raonic is looking for his third title of 2012 and fourth overall. Nishikori is 1-2 in career ATP title matches. His lone title came in 2008 at Delray Beach.