How to access downtown Tokyo from Narita Airport

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How can I get to downtown Tokyo from Narita airport? Is it easy to take train or bus? I don’t want to wander around city after long flight…

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Don’t worry. It’s very easy to use public transportations in Japan. I will explain 3 ways to get to downtown Tokyo and how to choose most suited one for you.

When you decide to visit Tokyo, you will probably land Narita airport(NRT) which is the largest international airport in Japan. As you may already know, public transportation is well developed here in Japan, but there’s pros and cons in each of them. In this blogpost, I will explain 3 ways how you can get to downtown Tokyo from NRT.
(Some may land Haneda airport(HND), Access from HND=>downtown Tokyo is available in another post)

Table of Contents
  1. Where is Narita city?
  2. List of transportation: Visual comparison
  3. Train: Keisei Skyliner, Narita express
  4. Express bus: LCC bus, Airport Limousine
  5. Taxi: Fixed rate taxi
Tomo(author)のアイコン画像Tomo(author)

I’m going to explain how to access downtown Tokyo for those who have never come to Japan before. The best transportation would be different from one another depending on budget, destination, time of arrival, or the size of group you’re traveling with. I’ll try my best to explain as simple as I can!

Where is Narita city?

When you come to Japan for the first time, you might be surprised to know that Narita is not actually part of Tokyo. In fact, it is a city in Chiba prefecture and is located 66km east from Tokyo station. (and 78km from Shibuya Crossing!)
Now you see how far it is, it is very important to decide what to prioritize the most when considering which transportations to use. Is it how fast you can get to your destination? Is it price? Or is it how comfortable your journey is? Please give it some consideration.

List of transportation: Visual comparison

First of all, I think it’s important for you to see the big picture before starting. I evaluated train, express bus and taxi by 5 important categories based on my own experience. These are very important points to consider when choosing most suitable transportation to meet your own needs.
(*FYI Pink marked parts are my recommended transportations)

Comparison of transportations, from NRT to downtown Tokyo
Comparison of public transportations

According to the table, using Keisei Skyliner is a little bit more expensive than using local trains or express bus(TYO-NRT & Narita Shuttle), but it is the fastest of all the transportations. It also has 3 checks for frequency and 3 thumbs ups for convenience, and triple double circles for comfy level. So if you prioritize how quick you can get to downtown Tokyo, Keisei Skyliner is your best choice.

Tomo(author)のアイコン画像Tomo(author)

This table is entirely based on my own experience. Forgive me if you feel differently about my evaluation.

Trains: Keisei Skyliner, Narita Express

Now, let’s move on to the details.
At Narita Airport, there are 2 train lines you can take: Keisei Line and JR Line.

Keisei Line – Keisei Skyliner and local trains

The fastest way to access downtown Tokyo is by using Keisei Skyliner.
Keisei Skyliner offers direct access to Nippori and Keisei Ueno station. Its fastest speed reaches up to 160km/h, and you can reach Nippori in 36mins! When you get off at Nippori station, you can transfer to JR Yamanote Line which takes you to center of Tokyo. On the other hand, at Keisei Ueno station, you can transfer to Shinkansen, JR Yamanote Line, JR Keihin-Tohoku Line, JR Joban Line, JR Utsunomiya/Takasaki Line, Tokyo metro Ginza Line, and Tokyo metro Hibiya Line. Please be aware that Ueno station is very large and Keisei Ueno station is a little bit far from other train stations. So make sure to check maps beforehand so that you wouldn’t get lost.

Keisei Skyliner’s basic info:
Skyliner is operated by Keisei Electric Railway and runs on Narita Sky Access route. The first train leaves from Narita Airport Terminal 1 at 7:26AM and (7:29AM on weekends) the last train leaves at 11:20PM. You can take Skyliner every 20mins from 9:36AM (9:59AM on weekends) to 8:00PM. The ticket price for adult is JPY 2,520 per person.

Keisei Access Express also runs on Narita Sky Access route, just like Skyliner. The pros of using Access Express is that it is cheaper than Skyliner, and it costs JPY 1,270. The cons are it is less frequent (once in every 40-60mins), slower (fastest speed reaches up to 120km/h, minimum 50mins to Nippori) and has no reserved seats. Similar to Access Express, Keisei Main Line runs between Keisei Ueno and Narita Airport. Ticket price is even cheaper and it only costs JPY 1,050. If you want to save cost, it is the cheapest train to get to Tokyo (though it takes 60+mins to Nippori).
I know these local trains sound like good alternatives, but I don’t want to recommend them for travelers who are not used to taking trains. Both Access Express and Keisei Main Line are bound for not only Keisei Ueno but also various locations such as Nishi-magome, Haneda airport, Misakiguchi etc. If you come to Japan for the first time, I do not want you waste your time on figuring out which train to take. So if you are uncertain, please take my advice and use Skyliner instead. It is much simpler, easier, and more comfortable.

JR Line – Narita Express (N’EX)

With Narita Express (also called N’EX), you can directly access urban cities like Shibuya or Shinjuku around 50mins. It’s a little slower than Keisei but much easier. If you have JRpass, you can use it too!

Narita Express’s basic info
Narita Express is a limited express service operated by JR East. All trains pass through Tokyo station and then goes to 3 different locations: Omiya/Ikebukuro/Shinjuku-bound, Takao-bound and Ofuna-bound. The first train leaves from Narita Airport Terminal 1 at 7:43AM and the last train leaves at 9:44PM. You can take N’EX every 30-35mins from 8:13AM to 7:48PM. All seats are reserved, with both Standard and Green (first class) accommodation. The ticket price for adult between NRT and Tokyo station is JPY 3,070 for Standard, JPY 4,640 for Green.

This is a route map of Narita Express. Make sure you ride on the correct bound train if you want to get to your destination without transfers.
(JR Narita Local Line is also available but I’ll skip introduction. It’s not cost efficient and takes too much time.)

Narita Express route map
Tomo(author)のアイコン画像Tomo(author)

N’EX is bound for multiple locations, but as you can see, it’s not too hard to see which train to take. Just remember to double check that you’re getting on the right train before boarding.

Express bus: LCC bus, Airport Limousine

There are basically 2 types of express bus: LCC bus and Airport Limousine.
When I come home from NRT, I often use Airport Limousine because it takes me to very close to my home. Airport Limousine has wide coverage of area, while LCC bus runs between NRT and urban cities like Tokyo station with very low fare.
Compared to trains, you might get caught in traffic jams, so if you need to go somewhere on time, it is not the best choice. But for those who wants to save cost, it is highly recommended!

LCC bus – TYO-NRT, Narita Shuttle

TYO-NRT is operated by Keisei and JR bus Kanto. It runs from Narita Airport to Tokyo station (65mins), Ginza station (77mins), Shinonome Shako (95mins), Shinonome Aeon shopping center (90mins), and Oedo onsen (100mins). You can use it without booking, and it only costs JPY 1,000 per person.
Narita Shuttle is operated by Willer Express, Keisei and Chiba Kotsu. It runs between Narita Airport and Osaki station. You can get to Osaki station minimum 72mins. It costs JPY 1,300 per person without booking (if you book 24hours prior to boarding, you get JPY 300 discount). At Osaki station, you can transfer to JR Yamanote Line, JR Saikyo Line, JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line, and Rinkai Line.

Touristのアイコン画像Tourist

That’s really nice. I don’t wanna spend too much on transportation. I want to focus on eating and shopping more!

Airport Limousine

Airport Limousine is operated by Tokyo Kuko Kotsu. They cover greater Tokyo area very well, but Keisei bus and Chiba Kotsu also have similar services and they cover even wider area. The price and frequency differs depending on the destination you want to go. Let’s say you are going to a city in Tokyo, it probably costs around JPY 3,000. I will leave official links to bus companies’ websites below, so please check if you can find one near your destination.

Airport Limousine’s basic info
You cannot book Airport Limousine beforehand. When you find a perfect bus for your destination, you should write down bus company’s name so that you will find bus ticket counter easily when you arrive at NRT. The bus ticket counter is usually crowded so I recommend you to go there fast after arrival.

Taxi: Fixed rate taxi

When I travel abroad, I tend to use taxi a lot because I don’t wanna waste my time on figuring out which transportation to use. So I understand the stress very well…

Tomo(author)のアイコン画像Tomo(author)

If you take a fixed-rate taxi to central Tokyo, it is expected to cost you around JPY 20,000 to 25,000.
(*Expressway tolls, other actual charges and late night / early morning surcharges are not included. The price will differ depending on your destination)

Touristのアイコン画像Tourist

What?! That’s insane! It’s more expensive than my accommodation fee!

Tomo(author)のアイコン画像Tomo(author)

Um, …but it’s cheaper than using the meter.

Taxi rate in Japan is quite expensive but you can use fixed rate taxi from airport to your destination. Still, the price of taxi is not cheap and it will probably cost you around JPY 25,000 or more depending on your destination. But if you’re traveling with small children or elderly people, or you are in a group of more than 3 people, or you just have too many / large luggages, I think you should consider taxi as your option. You can go straight to your destination, while enjoying relaxed and private space.
There’s a taxi service at the airport, so you don’t need to book in advance. Just go to the service counter and they will make an arrangement. For further information, visit below link for airport taxi service.

Conclusion

Tomo(author)のアイコン画像Tomo(author)

So this is it for how to access downtown Tokyo from Narita Airport. How did you think? I hope it could help you figure out which transportation to use. Have a nice travel !

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