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The excellent, modern Narita Airport is inconveniently located 66km east of Tokyo, in neighbouring Chiba prefecture. It’s divided into two terminals, which are connected by a free shuttle-bus service. The airport website lists which airlines use which terminal. There are Tourist Information Centres in both terminals.
This will set you back approximately ¥30,000 and, battling traffic all the way, will usually take longer than the train.
Both Japan Railways (JR) and the independent Keisei line connect Narita Airport and central Tokyo.
Keisei Skyliner (www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/skyliner/us) The quickest service into Tokyo runs nonstop to Nippori (¥2470, 36 minutes) and Ueno (¥2470, 41 minutes) stations, where you can connect to the JR Yamanote line or the subway (Ueno Station only). Trains run twice an hour, 8am to 10pm. Foreign nationals can purchase advanced tickets online for slightly less (¥2200).
The Skyliner & Tokyo Subway Ticket, which combines a one-way ticket on the Skyliner and a one-, two- or three-day subway pass, is a good deal.
Keisei Main Line Kaisoku kyūkō (limited express; ¥1030, 71 minutes to Ueno) trains follow the same route as the Skyliner but make stops. This is a good budget option. Trains run every 20 minutes during peak hours.
Narita Express (www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex)A swift and smooth option, especially if you're staying on the west side of the city, N’EX trains depart Narita approximately every half-hour between 7am and 10pm for Tokyo Station (¥3020, 53 minutes). They also run less frequently into Shinagawa (¥3110, 65 minutes), Shibuya (¥3110, 73 minutes), Shinjuku (¥3190, 80 minutes) and Ikebukuro (¥3190, 86 minutes).
Foreign tourists can purchase return N'EX tickets for ¥4000 (valid for 14 days), a discount of more than 30% off the standard return fare. Check online or inquire at the JR East Travel Service centres at Narita Airport for the latest deals.
Long-haul JR passes are valid on N’EX trains, but you must obtain a seat reservation (no extra charge) from a JR ticket office.
Friendly Airport Limousine Operates scheduled, direct, all-reserved buses between Narita Airport and major hotels and train stations in Tokyo. The journey takes 1½ to two hours depending on traffic. At the time of research, discount round-trip 'Welcome to Tokyo Limousine Bus Return Voucher' tickets (¥4500) were available for foreign tourists; ask at the ticket counter at the airport.
Access Narita Discount buses connect Narita Airport to Tokyo Station and Ginza (¥1000, one to 1¼ hours). There's no ticket counter at the airport, just go directly to bus stop 31 at Terminal 1 or stops 2 or 19 at Terminal 2. You can reserve tickets online (a safer bet for trips to the airport), but unfortunately only in Japanese.
Closer to central Tokyo, Haneda Airport has two domestic terminals and one international terminal, which opened in 2010. Originally, international flights into Haneda only arrived at awkward nighttime hours, however, in March 2014, daytime arrivals were added. Still, there's a chance that you might arrive between 12am and 5am, during which time trains, buses and the monorail to central Tokyo will not be running. Keep in mind the price of a taxi (or the hours spent camped at the airport) when you book your ticket.
There’s a Tourist Information Centre inside the international terminal.
Taxis cost between ¥4000 and ¥10,000, depending on the destination. To central Tokyo will set you back around ¥7000.
Baggage couriers provide next-day delivery of your large luggage from Narita and Haneda Airports to any address in Tokyo (around ¥2000 per large bag) or beyond, so you don’t have to haul it on the trains. Look for kiosks in the arrival terminals. If you plan on taking advantage of this service, make sure to put the essentials you'll need for the next 24 hours in a small bag.