Narita International Airport
The airport is in Narita, nearly 70 km northeast of Tokyo, in Chiba prefecture. It is Japan's main international airport. The airport is generally modern and efficient, but sometimes overcrowded, particularly at immigration. Security has been rather heavy, especially when coming in, due to continuing controversy over land expropriated for the airport. CCTV security cameras and facial recognition systems for departing passengers and airport visitors have replaced manned ID checks.
Narita should not be confused with Tokyo International Airport (Haneda), which is much closer to downtown Tokyo, serves the vast majority of domestic flights, and which serves an increasing array of international flights. If you need to transfer between airports, ensure that you give yourself at least 5-6 hours of connection time so you have ample time to make the transfer.
- Terminal 1 houses All Nippon Airways (ANA) and most other airlines in the Star Alliance in the South Wing, while most Skyteam carriers (Air France, China Southern, Delta, KLM, Korean Air) operate from the North Wing.
- Terminal 2 serves Japan Airlines (JAL) and most other Oneworld airlines (e.g. American, British Airways, Finnair, Qantas).
- Terminal 3, opened April 2014, serves most, but not all, domestic and international low-cost carriers: Jetstar, Spring Japan, Jeju Air and Vanilla Air.
Check the airport's website just prior to your departure to determine at which terminal you will arrive. On the way to the airport, there are also lists (in English) posted near the doors of trains going to Narita.
Although the airport is quite distant from the city there are many options to get from Narita to Tokyo. The most common methods are express trains to major train stations in Tokyo, and Airport Limousine buses that go directly to major hotels. The table below summarizes the easiest ways of travel.
By rail — overview
There are three train lines from Narita and all will get you into Tokyo. If coming to the airport, the terminals have their own stations and it is imperative that you get off at the right one. The stations are clearly marked in English: 1 Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station and 2 Narita Airport Terminal 2·3 Station. The stops are referred to in Japanese as "Narita Airport" (成田空港 Narita kūkō) and "Airport Terminal 2" (空港第２ビル kūkō dai-ni biru) respectively. Lists of airlines and their terminals are posted inside the trains.
Note that Terminal 3 is not served directly by train; it's a covered 500-meter walk or a short free shuttle bus ride away from Terminal 2.
The two premier reserved-seat train services that operate out of Narita Airport are the Skyliner and the Narita Express. As a general rule of thumb, Skyliner trains offer the fastest ride into Tokyo (36 minutes), while Narita Express trains offer direct one-seat connections to the bullet trains and most of Tokyo's major train stations, albeit at a slower pace (61 minutes).
If you are on a budget and plan to use any of the various commuter train services that run out of Narita Airport, using a stored fare card (Suica or PASMO) will prove to be convenient.
Smoking on any of these trains is prohibited.
From Narita Airport, arguably the most convenient train service into Tokyo is the Japan Railways (JR) Narita Express (N'EX). The ride takes 55-60 minutes to Tokyo Station, with the easiest connections to the Shinkansen (bullet train) and services continuing to some of Tokyo's major train stations such as Shinagawa, Shibuya and Shinjuku. As of October 2022 trains operate out of the airport between 7:37 and 21:44 daily, with most departures about every 30 minutes. Smoking is not permitted on board the Narita Express. All seats are reserved, but reservations can be purchased at any time.
The N'EX is free for users of a Japan Rail Pass or JR East Pass. Seats can be reserved when you change your exchange order for a Rail Pass at the JR Travel Service Center (or at the regular JR counter when the Service Center is closed). Foreigners without a Rail Pass can purchase a special round trip ticket for ¥4,070. The round trip must be completed within 14 days. The regular fare starts at ¥3,070 for trips from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station in standard class, with higher fares for green car (first class) seats.
After the Tokyo stop, some trains split in two with the front half heading south to Shinagawa, Musashi-Kosugi, Yokohama and Ofuna, while the rear cars go west to Shibuya and Shinjuku (some trains go to and from Hachioji during commuter hours). Other trains that only go to Shinjuku will add a stop at Shinagawa. If you're immediately heading south on the Shinkansen, you might want to change at Shinagawa rather than Tokyo, as the Tokyo stop is four levels underground and on the other side of the station to Shinkansen platforms, compared to Shinagawa where it is only 2 or 3 platforms across. In the unlikely event that all seats are full, JR will sell standing tickets for ¥500 less.
JR also operates Rapid trains on the Sobu/Narita line, leaving once per hour and stopping at various points along the way, including Chiba. These are normal, non-smoking commuter trains and often get crowded during rush hour, especially if you are boarding in Yokohama or Tokyo. From Narita Airport to Tokyo, the trip is approximately 82 minutes for ¥1,340 (compare with ¥1,270 to ride the Keisei Access Express to Ueno). The Rapid service train also has a couple of green cars; a green car seat can be obtained for ¥1,000 (¥800 on a weekend or holiday) if reserved beforehand, with higher fares charged on board. Fares charged before boarding are deducted from an IC card such as Suica.
The private Keisei (京成) Railway offers trains to central and southern Tokyo, as well as direct commuter trains to Haneda airport. Keisei trains run on two routes: the faster, more-direct Narita Sky Access Line and the slower, less-direct Keisei Main Line. The two lines branch off separately between Narita Airport and Takasago Station. Both lines reach Tokyo's Keisei Ueno and Nippori stations. Nippori offers the easiest connection to the JR Yamanote and Joban Lines, and to the Nippori-Toneri Liner for Tokyo's Adachi Ward. At Keisei Ueno you can walk over to JR Ueno station in 4 minutes to connect to the JR Yamanote, Tohoku and Takasaki lines and northbound Shinkansen trains, as well as the Ginza and Hanzomon subway lines.
Because the Sky Access and Keisei Main Lines operate on different fare structures, separate ticket gates and platforms are used at Narita Airport's two train stations. Sky Access Line passengers only have to pass through one ticket gate, while Keisei Main Line passengers must pass through two ticket gates. Taking a train through the Sky Access route between the Airport and Nippori/Ueno is ¥1,270, while the Keisei Main Line route is ¥1,050. The whole fare can be paid using a Suica card.
Sky Access Line
Heading to Nippori or Ueno by Keisei commuter train?
All transfers at Aoto are conveniently across the platform, with trains often timed to arrive simultaneously or with a minimal wait.
Keisei's premier service is the Skyliner, which operates on the Sky Access Line 2-3 times per hour. The Skyliner is the fastest train connecting Narita Airport to Tokyo, with trains running into and out of Keisei Ueno and Nippori stations. The new Skyliner trains offer comfortable seating and a maximum speed of 160 km/h (100 mph). The full run from Terminal 1 to Ueno takes 44 minutes, with the train traveling nonstop between Nippori and Terminal 2·3 in 36 minutes (A few trains stop at Aoto along the way). All seats are reserved and the regular fare is ¥2,570 each way, though foreign tourists can take advantage of a discount using the Skyliner eTicket. Using this service you can purchase Skyliner ticket vouchers in advance for only ¥2,300, and print your vouchers to be exchanged for tickets in Japan at a manned Keisei or Skyliner ticket counter. When exchanging your voucher you must present your passport and will be asked for your desired departure time.
The budget option along the Sky Access Line is the commuter train service known as Access Express, or Access Tokkyu (アクセス特急). Access Tokkyu trains depart every 40 minutes, and most daytime trains run into the Toei Asakusa Subway Line. Making limited stops, the Access Tokkyu offers the best ride to Asakusa (1 hr, ¥1,310) and Nihombashi (65 minutes, ¥1,350). A change of trains at Nihombashi will allow you to make a quick hop into the Ginza district (Higashi-Ginza Station, 75 minutes, ¥1,350). Shimbashi (70 minutes, ¥1,350) puts you within easy reach of the Yurikamome light rail line to Odaiba. Many services also continue onto the Keikyu Line for Shinagawa (80 minutes, ¥1,550) and Haneda Airport (100 minutes, ¥1,730).
From the Access Tokkyu trains you can transfer at Imba-Nihon-Idai station - two stations after Terminal 2 - to local Hokuso Railway services. One place of interest is Chiba New Town Chuo (Central Chiba New Town, 22 min, ¥830), where malls and shopping venues are on the plenty. At Shin-Kamagaya station you can change to the Shin-Keisei Railway and Tobu Urban Park Line. At Higashi-Matsudo station you can change to the JR Musashino Line for Saitama's Minami Ward (Musashi-Urawa Station).
The Keisei Skyliner and Tokyo Subway Ticket includes a trip on the Keisei Skyliner and an open ticket valid for unlimited travel on all lines of the Tokyo Metro and Toei subway for between 24 and 72 hours. Prices start at ¥2,890 for a one-way Skyliner trip combined with a 24-hour Tokyo Metro open ticket, and ¥4,880 for a round trip on the Skyliner with a 24-hour open ticket. Note that the Tokyo Metro open ticket does not allow travel on any JR Line.
Keisei Main Line
Regular commuter trains - those that do not carry the "Access" designation - depart from Narita Airport every 20 minutes. Keisei Ueno can be reached in 80 minutes at a cost of ¥1,050. Note that a number of the departures out of the airport make extra stops and head to the Asakusa subway line, and so those heading towards Nippori or Keisei Ueno will likely have to change to a rapid limited express, or kaisoku tokkyu (快速特急), at Keisei-Narita station (the first stop after leaving the airport).
From the Keisei Main Line you have the option of transferring at Funabashi station to the JR Chūō-Sobu line or at Katsutadai station to the Tōyō Rapid with through service to the Tōzai subway line, both of which go right through the middle of Tokyo. The Chūō-Sobu line goes through Akihabara, Ochanomizu, Yotsuya and Shinjuku and facilitates an easy transfer to the regular JR Chūō express, which goes as far west as Tachikawa, Ōme, Takao and other destinations beyond. The Tōzai line takes a slight southern approach with stops including Kiba, Nihonbashi, Iidabashi and Takadanobaba.
Note that none of the subway or elevated lines are specifically prepared for travelers with big luggage and tend to get crowded once inside the Yamanote ring; the exchanges at Katsutadai and Funabashi are usually rather pleasant though.
All of the buses listed below make four pickup stops (Terminal 1 North Wing, Terminal 1 South Wing, Terminal 2, Terminal 3) and either three or four dropoff stops.
Airport Limousine Bus
There is a network of Airport Limousine buses that serve most major hubs within Tokyo, stopping at major hotels as well as some suburbs. Prices are comparable to the Narita Express train services, but are convenient for the first-time traveler as they take you directly to your hotel. The Airport Limousine is also one way to transfer to Tokyo Haneda Airport; Access Tokkyu trains are cheaper, but Airport Limousines are much more frequent. The journey to most points in central Tokyo takes 90-120 minutes and costs ¥2900-3200 per person, but watch out in rush hour (especially on the way to the airport) as there may be traffic jams.
The Airport Limousine's flagship service is to/from the Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT)[dead link] in Hakozaki section of Tokyo's Chuo Ward. Travel times are usually (but not always) one hour since the buses can access T-CAT from several highways. The regular fare is ¥2800. T-CAT is directly connected to the Hanzomon Line of the Tokyo Metro subway, which runs to Shibuya and to Tokyo SkyTree with plenty of other connections in between. A taxi can bring you from T-CAT to Tokyo Station for about ¥1000.
Airport Limousine buses allow two pieces of luggage per passenger in the hold, each weighing a maximum of 30 kg.
Airport Bus TYO-NRT
The Airport Bus TYO-NRT (abbreviations for Tokyo and Narita, respectively) is a low-cost bus operated by several bus companies between Tokyo Station and Narita Airport, with one-way trips costing just ¥1300. Trips are advertised at 70 min, but again are subject to potential traffic jams. At Tokyo Station, buses discharge at the Nihombashi Exit and pick up at the bus terminal outside the Yaesu South Exit. Some buses also run to and from Ginza (Sukiyabashi crossing, near Ginza Station Exit C7 of Tokyo Metro) and Shinonome (across from the AEON Mall, a 15 min walk from Toyosu Station on the subway and Yurikamome Line).
This bus allows only one piece of checked luggage per passenger in the hold.
In nearby Yokohama there is, appropriately, the Yokohama City Air Terminal (Y-CAT) which is only a few minutes' walk from the Yokohama train station. Buses cost ¥3700, with travel times estimated at 85 minutes.
A taxi to central Tokyo is extremely expensive - a trip from Narita to Tokyo Station will run approximately ¥28,000 (or more depending on traffic and routing) plus expressway tolls if you hail a cab directly by yourself. This is equivalent to a few nights in a typical Tokyo business hotel and you are more likely to get stuck in a traffic jam than save any time.
Flat fare taxi cabs to Tokyo start from around ¥17,000-19,000 (plus tolls) from special taxi ranks, but even so, it will be easier and cheaper to take public transit into Tokyo (i.e. Narita Express, Skyliner, Airport Limousine Bus) and change to a taxi to reach your final destination. Use the train if you're in a hurry, or the bus if you're not.
Tokyo MK Taxi and Cab Station Ltd offer advanced bookings for taxis in English. Their prices are more or less equivalent to the flat-fare prices noted above, once additional fees are figured in. UberBlack offers flat-rate service from Narita to any of Tokyo's 23 wards for ¥27,720 through their smartphone app.
Keisei also offers a Skyliner & Taxi Ticket that combines a one-way trip on the Skyliner train with a taxi ride from Keisei Ueno station to any destination within 11 wards in Tokyo. The taxi will pass two or three of Tokyo's major attractions on the way to your destination. The fare is ¥5100-6600 for one person; the price per person is reduced for groups of two or three. Up to two large suitcases per party are allowed.
Remember that licensed cabs in Japan have green license plates. Unlicensed cabs will have standard white or yellow license plates and should be avoided.
There are free shuttle buses every ten minutes or so between Terminals 1, 2 and 3, both for airside passengers (who have not passed through Immigration) and landside passengers (who have).
Terminals 2 and 3 are also connected by a 500-meter-long covered corridor (10-15 min walk), for landside passengers only.
If you have young children, the excellent Playrooms in both terminals are a godsend. The one in T2 is equipped with a tatami mat area for babies and playground equipment for preschoolers. Inexplicably, it's not listed on the official web site, but you can find it by following the signs for "Nursery" after passing through Immigration, just walk past the escalators down to the satellite and turn right.
- Japan Airlines has its flagship lounge in Terminal 2, which is accessible to those travelling on full-fare Economy, Premium Economy, Business or First class, as well as those with JAL frequent flyer status of sapphire or higher. Also accessible to travellers on other OneWorld airlines in Business or First Class, as well as those with OneWorld sapphire status or higher. Has a separate section exclusively for First class passengers. Hot food and alcohol, including sake are provided in the lounge.
- All Nippon Airways has two lounges in Terminal 1, which is accessible to those travelling on Premium Economy, Business or First class, as well as those with Platinum status or higher on ANA's frequent flyer programme. Also accessible to those travelling in Business or First class on other Star Alliance airlines, as well as those with Star Alliance gold status. Both lounges have a separate section exclusively for First class passengers. Hot food and alcohol, including sake, are served in the lounge. Also features a noodle bar where you can order rice and noodle dishes, including their signature chicken curry rice.
- Several independent lounges also exist in the airport, which are accessible to those with membership in Priority Pass and other lounge access programmes. These lounges are generally of much lower quality than the JAL and ANA lounges.
- United Lounges, Terminal 1, Satellite 3.
Eat and drink
Narita has a reasonable range of eating options before security, but only a few token restaurants on the other side. Ordering take-away is a good option for bridging the gap. For that last-minute sushi fix, Tsukiji Sushi Iwa (T1) and Ganso (T2) are quite respectable.
Chain restaurants can only be found at Terminal 3.
Once you have arrived at Narita, you can access cash machines operated by Japan Post, 7-Eleven and AEON that accept international ATM cards and credit cards.
Most visitors with a Maestro EMV ATM chip card (i.e. IC, chip-and-pin) can only use the 7-Eleven and AEON machines.
When departing Narita, the better shops and restaurants are in the check-in area: after passing security and immigration, all that's really available is expensive duty-free and some convenience store sundries. But remember that Japan restricts liquids in carry-on baggage, and plan to buy drinks for the plane after security.
As T-3 terminal is served by budget airlines, you may find good currency exchange rates here. There are few exchange stores right after passing through customs.
Tip: Departing passengers usually leave umbrellas near the garbage bins at the airport entrance. If you've just arrived and it's rainy season in Tokyo feel free to pick one up for yourself.
Free WiFi access is available throughout the airport (SSID: FreeWifi-Narita); paid access to WiFi through NTT and Softbank hotspots is also available. There are several charging stations in both terminals with desks, 100-volt power ports and desk lamps.
If you're at Narita for a connecting flight, you may wish to use the dayrooms and showers inside the terminal, past security. Dayrooms are paid for by the hour; ¥1000 for the first hour and ¥500 for each additional hour. The dayroom consists of a bed and a bathroom with a shower. It's a great way to refresh yourself before your next flight. If you just want to take a shower, you can get a shower room for ¥500 for a half hour. Soap and shampoo are provided, but not things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shavers, and deodorant, so bring them in your carry-on with your change of clothes. Twin dayrooms are available for ¥1600 for the first hour and ¥800 for each additional hour. Dayroom reservations can be made up to a month in advance.
Narita is not a 24-hour airport, and is closed between 23:00 and 06:00. However, sleeping overnight on the benches is tolerated by security, just come prepared since nothing except some vending machines will be open at night.
For early departures or late arrivals it is convenient to have a hotel close to the airport. Some of them provide free shuttle from/to the airport. The town of Narita, only 10 min from the airport, offers much better value for your money than the airport hotels.
- 1 Radisson Hotel Narita, 286-0221 Chiba, Tokyo Narita Airport, Nanae 650-35, ☏ , [email protected]. A comfortable western style hotel with swimming pools, restaurants and bars and free Wi-fi in rooms. It can be easily reached by a frequent shuttle bus from both Narita Airport terminals between 07:00 and 22:00, the ride takes about 20 minutes. ¥12,000 (double room), ¥2,300 (breakfast).
- 2 9 hours Narita Airport (outside Terminal 2, under parking building 2). Spend a layover in Narita in Japanese style -- in a capsule hotel, with showers, lockers and a pod to sleep in. Separate male and female sections. Open 24 hours, and can be rented for as short as one hour. Opened July 2014. From ¥4900.
|Routes through Narita International Airport|
|Tokyo ← Chiba ← Narita ←||W E||→ END|
|Keisei Ueno ← Keisei Funabashi ← Keisei Narita ←||W E||→ END|
|Higashi Matsudo ← into ← Narita ←||W E||→ END|
|Chiba ← into ← Narita ←||W E||→ END|
|Chiba ← into ← Narita ←||W E||→ END|