Most international flights to Tokyo arrive at Narita airport. Tokyo has 2 major airports Narita and Haneda. Haneda is closer to city. Narita is farther but well served by rail and bus. There are two railway companies that run trains connecting Narita airport with Tokyo city.
i. Japan Railways operates JR NEX high speed train between Narita and central Tokyo station.
ii. KEISEI company operates SKYLINER that runs between Narita and Ueno station, which is major northern Tokyo station.
Trains leave from the floor below the arrival level. Apart from the high speed direct connections, one can opt for commuter trains if one is not having lots of luggage. The commuter trains stop at local stations thus taking more time to reach Tokyo. Seats may not be available. Some trains require you to switch at a connecting point to reach your destination. So generally not a good option unless you are familiar, and or not having heavy luggage. But are cheaper. Check carefully before boarding your train as the trains both high speed and commuter leave from same platform. For more information on train times and fares refer to respective web sites below. When looking up Japanese language websites use Google Chrome browser; pages will be automatically translated.
Alternative to train is Limousine bus. Limousines can help you directly reach some of the popular hotels at different parts of Tokyo. At the time of writing Limousine buses operate only till some time in evening. So if you are reaching late your option is train. Tickets for Limousine Buses can be purchased right after exiting the immigration. Buses leave from the same floor at marked locations outside the arrival lobby.
Another cheaper option if you are lightly loaded, in terms of luggage and pocket both, is to board the airport express buses operated by KEISEI company. These ones will drop you at main city locations such as Tokyo station.
While travel from Narita to city may take upwards of 1 hour, Haneda is closer and additionally offers the option of traveling into the city by monorail. Haneda to city is also comparatively affordable by taxi, which is prohibitive if you are reaching in from Narita.
Taxis in general are not an option to travel between Narita and the main city of Tokyo if you are traveling alone or with one company. But then if you are heading to some address in the inner city areas, perhaps an AIRBNB, and say late in the night to boot, then surely taxis are your best bet. Head to Tokyo city air terminus (TCAT) from Narita by public conveyance, and get into a taxi from there. If however you are traveling in a group or three or four, then the cost of traveling to city by NEX or SKYLINER and by taxis become quite comparable. In such case you can even consider dispatching your excess luggage by a luggage courier service and get into a taxi for a comfortable private journey into the city.
Talking about comfort, there is one option we have not mentioned yet. That is to hop into a helicopter and land right into the middle of Tokyo, at Arc hills building helipad. I personally always take this option – uhm you smirking there you there 🙂
As you come out of immigration
Remember to exchange some forex at the airport as exchanging at the hotel will be expensive.
For calling someone from the airport there are calling card vending machines at the airport. Do not buy large denominations as the cards are truly expensive. You may not be using the card later except for calling home “reached safely”.
‘You can rent mobiles from various providers right from the counters outside the immigration. There are packages for tourists with various options on calls/texts/Internet. If you have 3G/4G multiband gsm mobile then you can get by renting only a sim. Iphone, Samsung Galaxy phones bought abroad work in Japan. There are even vending machines available where you can buy mobile sim without any hassles.
By the way as a tourist you can use free wifi offered by Japan mobile network providers NTT and Softbank. You can download apps from Google Play store / Apple App store or access the below websites. You can get your user-id password all set even before you fly in. So with wifi and say a Whatsapp or Skype you will be able to make that first call even without buying any card. Get more information on this wifi facility at sites below.
Remember for all purchases in Japan there is a tax automatically applied at an uniform rate, which is currently 8%. But as a tourist you have the choice of making your more expensive purchases at designated duty free shops. Such shops are abundant at Tourist points of interest. Look up the Japan National Tourism Organization webpage below for up to date information. http://tax-freeshop-wifi.jnto.go.jp/eng/shopping-guide.php
Hope you find this page useful. If you have not yet booked your hotel/accommodation in Tokyo / other tourist destinations around in Japan, then look up related content in this website. Couchflyer is proud to state that all content in this website is completely unbiased and unaffected by any commercial interest. We are NOT a tourism operator. We have created this site out of joy of creation. So feel free to ask questions if any. We will try to respond back ASAP. Welcome and enjoy.