Narita Express / N’EX (from/to Narita Airport)
For many international visitors, the Narita Express, often referred to just as the ‘N’EX’, will be the first train they use upon arrival in Japan. Operating from Terminal 1 and 2 of Narita Airport, the NEX is a rapid service to Tokyo Station, with some services also continuing onto Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikekukuro along with Yokohama and Omiya.
It is important to note that the NEX is one of two rapid train services operating from Narita Airport, the other being the Keisei Skyliner which runs to Keisei-Ueno Station – located nearby Ueno Station. While the Keisei Skyliner is slightly faster than the NEX, only the NEX is covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass, unlike the Skyliner which is not covered, making the NEX a popular choice for international visitors.
Passengers arriving at Narita Airport and headed straight to the area around Tokyo Station or the stations listed above, should use the NEX from the airport. From Narita Airport, expect the following travel times:
Tokyo Station* / 55 to 80 minutes
Shinagawa Station / 75 to 90 minutes
Shibuya Station / 85 to 100 minutes
Shinjuku Station / 90 to 105 minutes
Ikebukuro Station / 95 to 105 minutes
Yokohama Station / 100 to 110 minutes
Omiya Station* / approx. 120 minutes
It is important to note that different services stop at different stations however all services stop at Tokyo Station. For daily train schedules, see our ‘Narita Express (N’EX) Timetable’ page.
*Tokyo Station and Omiya Station are stops on multiple shinkansen lines including the Hokuriku Shinkansen headed for Nagano. If you are heading straight to Nagano from the airport, take the NEX to Tokyo and transfer to the shinkansen there.
Types of Carriages & Seating
All NEX services have the following types of carriages and seating:
Making-up the majority of carriages, ‘ordinary cars’ have non-reserved seating and plenty of space for luggage. Each carriage has four seats per row with an aisle in the middle i.e. two seats either side of the aisle, with space in front of the seats for luggage and overhead storage. Carriages also have dedicated luggage space at either end. Seats recline and have adjustable headrests, tables and power outlets. In summary, ordinary cars are perfectly comfortable and for most visitors, have everything you need. Toilets are available at the ends of carriages.
Often referred to as ‘first class’, ‘Green Cars’ have fewer seats and more legroom. Seats are leather and recline further than those in ordinary cars. In reality, the gap between the two cars is more similar to ‘economy’ and ‘business’ class on an airline, and while comfortable, it doesn’t represent that much of a difference. If you have a JR Pass covering Green Cars or have a strong reason for wanting a reserved seat, then go for it. Otherwise, we recommend just using the ordinary/non-reserved cars. Toilets are available at the ends of carriages.
Accessing the NEX at Narita Airport
The NEX operates from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 at Narita Airport. Passengers arriving at Terminal 3 can board at Terminal 2, by using the corridor that connects Terminals 2 and 3. At either Terminal 1 or 2, proceed down to the B1 level where you will find access to train lines including the NEX and Keisei-Skyliner bound for Ueno. Ordinary train services also operate out of the station for visitors heading to other local destinations including Narita City.
Ticketing & Travel Passes
A one-way journey from the airport to Tokyo costs JPY3070 per adult or JPY4640 per adult for a Green Car reservation. To Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku or Ikebukuro costs JPY3250 or JPY4820 for a Green Car Reservation. To Omiya costs JPY3910 or JPY5480 and to Yokohama costs JPY4370 or JPY5940. Return tickets are also available.
For visitors with a JR Pass, NEX services can be used free of charge. Simply show you pass and you will be waived through the gates. You can use any ‘ordinary’ car as all seats are non-reserved. Should you want a reserved seat you will need to stop at the ticket office to book a seat in a ‘Green Car’, however, unless you have a ‘Green Car’ JR Pass, you will need to pay for this. Ordinary/non-reserved carriages are perfectly comfortable and spacious, so unless you have a strong reason to get a reserved seat, we recommend not bothering.
For visitors without a JR Pass, you will need to buy a ticket. Tickets are available using the ticket machines or service windows at the airport terminals. Foreign language-speaking staff – including English, Chinese and Korean – are usually on-hand to assist. Tickets can also be purchased at any station serviced by the NEX i.e. Tokyo Station, etc.
Tickets can be also purchased online up to one month in advance however unless you are flying in at a time when you know there will be exceptionally heavy traffic, there really is no need to book ahead of time.
There is no escaping the fact that travel using the shinkansen is expensive. Given the speed and distances covered by these trains, travellers should think of them much like taking a flight, with tickets accordingly priced. International visitors to Japan have the option of purchasing one of several passes which allow for unlimited use of the Hokuriku and (for some passes) other shinkansen and train services. The following JR passes cover the NEX and travel to Nagano:
Japan Rail (JR) Pass
Covering all 9 shinkansen lines in Japan and many other train services, the JR Pass is a great option for visitors planning to use the shinkansen more than a handful of times and/or travel large distances. Travellers have the option of 7, 14 and 21-day passes covering either Ordinary or Ordinary and Green Cars.
The JR Pass allows for use of ordinary cars on the NEX and any service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
Japan Rail (JR) East Pass/ Nagano & Niigata
The JR East Pass covers the NEX, Hokuriku and Joetsu Shinkansen lines serving Nagano and Niigata, along with other regional services. There is only one option of pass, covering 5 days of use within a 14-day period from its date of activation.
Notably cheaper than the JR Pass, this is a great option for visitors staying within Nagano and Niigata. Much like the JR Pass, it allows for use of any service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line at no additional cost but noting that should holders wish to have a reserved seat, they are still required to book a seat at the ticket office (at no additional cost).
Hokuriku Arch Pass
Valid for 7 consecutive days from date of activation, the Hokuriku Arch Pass covers train services from Tokyo – including the NEX – to Nagano and Kanazawa and then onto Kyoto, Osaka and Kansai Airport.
For many international visitors, this pass covers the majority of their intended destinations as the they follow the most popular tourist route from Tokyo to Kanazawa and onto Kyoto and Osaka. Notably cheaper than the full JR Pass, the Hokuriku Arch Pass offers fantastic convenience and savings.