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Best Way to Get from Narita Airport to Tokyo – Train, Bus or Private Transport?

Best Way to Get from Narita Airport to Tokyo – Train, Bus or Private Transport?

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Located around 70km to the east of central Tokyo, Narita Airport is one of two international airports – along with Haneda Airport – servicing Japan’s capital. For many international visitors, arrival at Narita will be their initial introduction to Japan. As such, a likely early question is what’ the best way to get from Narita Airport into Tokyo?

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On this page we provide everything you need to know about how to get from Narita Airport into Tokyo with a minimum of fuss including the option of:

1 / Train: Narita Express (N’EX)

2 / Train: Keisei Skyliner

3 / Airport Limousine Bus

4 / Private Transport

After providing those options, the page concludes with some frequently asked questioned to assist with comparisons of the different transport services on offer and which one might best suit your needs. Let’s begin with:

1 / TRAIN: NARITA (N’EX)


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The Narita Express – often referred to simply as the ‘NEX’ – is a rapid train service which runs from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 to the main terminus of Tokyo Station with some services also continuing onto Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikekukuro along with Yokohama and Omiya.

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A one-way journey to Tokyo Station costs JPY3020 with services taking between 55 to 80-minutes with trains departing every 30 to 60-minutes*. Trains include by non-reserved and reserved carriages. Importantly for international visitors, the NEX is covered by a range of Japan Rail (JR) Passes including: the full JR Pass / JR East Pass / JR Hokuriku Arch Pass.

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Using the NEX with a JR Pass: it’s easy! You don’t need any additional ticket or need to make any further payment. Simply show your pass at the ticket gates and you’ll be waived through. If you have a standard JR Pass, you need to sit in an ordinary/non-reserved car. If you want a reserved seat on the train, you will need to attend the ticket office to book a seat and pay the surcharge. Holders of a Green JR Pass can take advantage of a reserved seat without additional payment but must also attend the ticket office to book their seat. But remember, if you have just arrived in Japan, you will first need to activate the pass to use it on the monorail – see our ‘Narita Airport’ page for details.

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To purchase a ticket: you have the option of doing so: 1. online (up to 1-month in advance) or 2. at a ticket machine or ticket window. You can also purchase tickets at participating convenience stores and travel agents but assuming as this page is focused on travelers arriving at the airport from overseas, let’s consider the first two options:

1 / To purchase online, you must first register on the official website and purchase your ticket by computer or smart phone**. Once you have completed payment, you will receive a confirmation number via email. Make sure to keep this. When you arrive at the airport you will need to go to a ticket machine or window, have your ticket issued and then board the train. To collect your ticket you will need: your 5-digit booking/confirmation number, the credit card you registered online and the credit card PIN. If you have an IC Card (i.e. travel cards including Pasmo, Suica, etc.) and register it on the website, you can opt to have an e-ticket issued to that card and therefore don’t need a printed ticket. You simply use your IC Card to board the train.

2 / To purchase at ticket in-person, simply use a ticket machine or ticket office at the airport upon arrival. You will be issued with a printed ticket which you use to board the train.

*Please note, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and lower demand for services, the NEX is currently operating a limited timetable.

**Tickets can be purchased through the ‘EkiNet’ website however it is only in Japanese. Should you need assistance with registering and using the website, see our step-by-step English guide.

2 / TRAIN: KEISEI SKYLINER


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The Keisei Skyliner is another rapid train service which runs from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 to Keisei Ueno Station via Aoto Station and Nippori Station. Keisei Ueno Station is under a 2-minute walk from Ueno Station.

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A one-way journey costs JPY2630 with services to Keisei Ueno Station taking between 45 to 55-minutes with trains departing every 30 to 60-minutes*. All seating is reserved and it is important to note that the Skyliner is not covered by any Japan Rail (JR) Pass.

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To purchase a ticket: you have the option of doing so: 1. online (up to 1-month in advance) or 2. at a ticket machine or ticket window. You can also purchase tickets at participating convenience stores and travel agents but assuming as this page is focused on travelers arriving at the airport from overseas, let’s consider the first two options:

1 / To purchase online, you must first register on the official website and purchase your ticket by computer or smart phone. Once you have completed payment, you will receive a confirmation number via email. Make sure to keep this. When you arrive at the airport you will need to go to a ticket machine or window, have your ticket issued and then board the train. To collect your ticket you will need: your booking/confirmation number and best to also have the credit card you made payment with. If you have an IC Card (i.e. travel cards including Pasmo, Suica, etc.) and register it on the website, you can opt to have an e-ticket issued to that card and therefore don’t need a printed ticket. You simply use your IC Card to board the train.

2 / To purchase at ticket in-person, simply use a ticket machine or ticket office at the airport upon arrival. You will be issued with a printed ticket which you use to board the train.

*Please note, due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and lower demand for services, the NEX is currently operating a limited timetable.

3 / AIRPORT LIMOUSINE BUS


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Operating from all three terminals at Narita Airport to numerous points in Tokyo, the Airport Limousine Bus is a good option for travelers who want to be dropped directly at their hotel. Tickets can be booked in advance – a minimum of 2-days prior to your intended travel – with the option of doing so online, by phone, at a ticket machine and – for visitors heading to the airport – through your hotel.

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Travel times vary depending on where you are staying – but expect a journey of around 2 hours – with stops at these participating hotels.  A one-way ticket costs between JPY2800 to JPY3200 depending on where you are staying.

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Buses are large coaches with two seats either side the central aisle. Overhead storage is above with passengers asked to store their larger luggage underneath the bus. Buses include free WiFi and an onboard toilet. A central office monitors traffic and communicates with drivers in an effort to ensure any troublesome delays.  

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To purchase a ticket: you have the option of doing so: 1. online (a minimum of 2-days in advance), 2. at a ticket machine 3. by phone, and 4. via a participating hotel. For international visitors arriving at Narita, the first two options will be most convenient:

1 / to purchase online, you can do so through the official website however unlike the trains, you do not need to register an account. Simply provide your details and make payment by credit card. You will then be sent an email confirmation which you use on the day to board the bus. You can also choose to make payment on the day. If you do you will receive a QR code by email, which you use on the day to make payment at a ticket machine or window. You will then be issued with your ticket to board the bus.

2 / Ticket machines are available at the airport. Simply choose your preferred bus service, make payment, and your tickets will be issued.

4 / PRIVATE TRANSPORT


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Given the distance of the airport from central Tokyo, using a taxi isn’t a great option as it will be expensive and most likely, slow. There are however numerous shuttle services offering competitive prices from and to Narita, especially if you are willing to share with other passenger in a combined shuttle service.

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For visitors arriving at Narita Airport but wanting to head to a location other than central Tokyo, arranging private transport from the airport can be a convenient and economical option, especially when traveling as a group or family.

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Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we can arrange private transport from the airport directly to your preferred destination in Central Japan including any of the region’s fantastic ski resorts.

Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your interests and schedule. A great option for families and groups of friends wanting to travel together in comfort, we can arrange transport for individuals, couple, families and groups of up to 44 passengers per vehicle.

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Vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety. As a registered travel agent, we can package your transport with accommodation, tours, restaurants and more! We take the hassle out of arranging your travel to Nagano and Central Japan, so you can relax, sit back and discover everything the region has to offer!

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For tips and suggestions of what’s on offer just outside of Tokyo, see our ’30 Things To Do Near Tokyo: Best Day-Trips & Overnight Getaways’ page.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


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We hope the information included above has made it a little easier to understand which transport option best suits your needs. In making arrangements for travel to Japan, we find the following questions are common:

NEX vs SKYLINER – Which train should I use?

Many if not most international visitors will use either of these services to head into Tokyo. While both are great options each has some positives. Most importantly, the big difference between the two services is that the NEX is covered by the Japan Rail (JR) Pass whereas the Skyliner is not covered. Visitors holding a JR Pass can use the NEX free of charge but simply showing their pass at the ticket gates and being waived through. The pass does not however cover the Skyliner. Even if you are holding a JR Pass, if you want to use the Skyliner you will have to buy a ticket at the full price. In terms of ticket prices, if you do need to purchase a ticket for the NEX it costs JPY3020 one-way, slightly more expensive than a one-way ticket on the Skyliner which costs JPY2630. The NEX is also slower – taking 55 to 80-minutes to reach Tokyo Station – than the Skyliner – which takes 45 to 55-minutes to reach Keisei Ueno Station. Services on both lines are frequent with the Skyliner operating a little earlier and later than the NEX. In terms of comfort, there is no difference. Carriages on both services are comfortable, quiet and well-appointed with space for luggage and toilets.

NEX vs SKYLINER – Which is best for getting to my hotel?

It depends on where you’re staying. From the airport, the NEX will be the best option if you are headed to areas including Tokyo Station/Marunouchi, Ginza, Shinagawa, Odaiba, Roppongi, Ebisu, Tokyo Disney or Yokohama. Akiharbara is mid-way between Tokyo Station and Ueno Station making either train service convenient. The Skyliner will be the best option if you are headed to Ueno or Asakusa, or Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, Shibuya or Omiya by disembarking the Skyliner at Nippori Station and tranfering the to the connecting line. Akiharbara is mid-way between Tokyo Station and Ueno Station making either train service. Of course, if you are holding a JR Pass, you will probably want to use the NEX as you can do so without charge. Rest assured that’s totally fine and will be able to reach destination easily enough from Tokyo Station.

For information about popular accommodation areas in Tokyo, see our ‘Where to Stay in Tokyo?’ page.


LIMOUSINE BUS vs TRAINS – Is the bus a good option for me?

While the bus is slower than the trains, the big advantage is that it drops passengers directly at their hotel – assuming they are staying at one of the many participating hotels on the list – see above for details. The price is similar to the trains, buses are comfortable, and don’t have to worry about navigating the Tokyo train system with your luggage. Simply sit back and relax until you reach your hotel. The only real consideration is traffic. While traffic conditions are closely monitored and relayed to the drivers, you are more likely to experience delays using the bus whereas you are very unlikely to experience any delay using the trains.

PRIVATE TRANSPORT – It’s much more expensive. Why would I use it?

It is certainly true that private transport is likely to be much more expensive than using the trains or bus. So why use it? Arranging a private charter from the airport allows you to picked-up upon arrival and transported directly to your destination of choice. For visitors not heading into Tokyo, especially those arriving for Nagano’s winter ski and snowboarding season, arranging private transport from the airport to you ski resort and accommodation of choice, allows you to get there fast, in comfort and without having to navigate central Tokyo with your luggage and gear. Regardless of the time of year you are visiting, private transport can save you significant time and hassle in getting you directly to your destination while also allowing the flexibility of incorporating other destinations and activities along the way. Most importantly, as COVID-19 continues to impact on travel within Japan, arranging private transport allows you to move with comfort and peace of mind, especially when you choose to do so with us.

BOOK A PRIVATE CHARTER – Why choose Snow Monkey Resorts?

Operating all year round, our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your interests and schedule. Vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety; and as a registered travel agent, we can package your transport with accommodation, tours, restaurants and more!

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Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano.

Got a question about visiting Central Japan? Contact us at snowmonkeyresorts@machinovate.com and let’s get planning together!

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