For newcomers to Tokyo, it can come as quite a surprise that Tokyo’s main international gateway—Narita Airport (NRT)—is not really very close to Tokyo at all. In fact, this Tokyo airport is so rural and remote that the view on the first part of the train journey from Narita to Tokyo is predominantly of rice paddies—oh, and a faux-Dutch windmill. In more practical terms, you’re looking at a distance of about 80 km from Narita Airport to Shibuya Crossing.

Welcome to Japan at Narita
And Narita, too. | Photo by Carey Finn

As Tokyo is such a vast city, there’s no “one size fits all” answer as to which method or route is cheapest/best for getting from Narita to your accommodation. However, for certain major locations in Tokyo, it might help to have a look at our mini guides—they cover the fastest, cheapest and easiest transport options. You’ll find more general route information below, including bus and train prices.

Pro tip: If you don’t mind spending a little extra for ease of transfer after your arrival, we suggest the simple option of an airport-to-hotel shared taxi service—you can book an airport transfer for about ¥6,640 per person. Also worth a mention is the economical, speedy Keisei Skyliner train, which costs as little as ¥2,171 if you book online.

Quick transport guides from Narita Airport (NRT) to Tokyo

While finding the cheapest transport to get from Narita to Tokyo is a worthy quest in itself, it has become more important because of the arrival of low-cost carriers, many of which use Narita as their base of operations for domestic flights out of Tokyo. Some of the fares are cheap enough to make tourists coming to Japan consider whether they should get a Japan Rail Pass or just book a couple of flights on an LCC. However, since Narita Airport is not in the middle of Tokyo (like the much more conveniently located and modern Haneda Airport), transport fees to and from Tokyo should be factored into your overall costs. Here’s more on those transport options and prices.

Getting in late at night? Check out our dedicated guide to late-night transfers from Narita.

Full transport guide: How do I get from Narita Airport to Tokyo?

Buses from Narita to Tokyo

narita to tokyo airport limousine bus
Photo by iStock.com/kn1

Airport Limousine Bus

The convenience of not having to cart your luggage around is great, but the Airport Limousine Bus service is not the cheapest option. Also, while very comfortable, the buses are, in fact, the least limousine-like wheeled transport you are likely to take. They run to major hotels all over Tokyo at around ¥2,980 one way and ¥4,500 for a return ticket. You can book discounted limousine bus tickets online in advance—it’s worth a look, at least, when planning your transfer. Check the official airport limousine bus website for other special offers.

Pro tip: On a luggage note, if you don’t feel like dragging your bag(s) around, you can port them from the airport to your accommodation for hands-free travel. Cheapo readers get an extra bag for free.

Narita Airport Shuttle bus

Considerably cheaper is the Narita Airport Shuttle bus, run by a company called Willer. This bus runs between Narita Airport and Tokyo, dropping you off at Osaki Station (near Shinagawa) for ¥1,000. Osaki Station is about 6 minutes from Shibuya and 15 minutes from Shinjuku on the convenient JR Yamanote Line (which loops around the city).

45 Narita Airport Shuttle buses depart daily, and the trip into Tokyo takes about an hour and a half. You can buy tickets on the day, but it will cost you ¥300 extra.

narita airport bus stop
Photo by iStock.com/inurbanspace

Tokyo Shuttle bus

Another cheapie is the Tokyo Shuttle, run by Keisei Bus. The bus costs ¥1,000 one way, with kids paying half. The shuttle runs to and from the Yaesu Exit of Tokyo Station, from where you can easily jump on the subway or various JR train lines. It also goes to Ginza. There is a Yurakucho area (not far off) shuttle service that is recommended when buses on the main route are full (and they can fill up fast).

You can catch a Tokyo Shuttle bus from Narita Airport without a booking (buses leave every 20 minutes): simply buy your tickets at the Keisei ticket counter between 7 am and 10 pm, or directly on the bus after hours.

Unlike Limousine Buses, the first Tokyo Shuttle leaves Tokyo Station at 1:30 am—which means you can catch those ridiculously early flights out of Narita. There is also a discount combo ticket that allows you to visit the Oedo Onsen Monogatari hot spring complex in Odaiba the night before an early flight, and take the bus at 3:40 am to the airport. You can also pick up a 1-day Tokyo Metro pass for ¥700—a ¥100 saving on the regular price. You still have to take about four regular trips on the subway to make it worthwhile though, which could be quite ambitious after a long-haul flight!

The Access Narita bus

Another low-cost bus option from Narita Airport is The Access Narita shuttle bus, which will drop you off at either Tokyo Station for quick access to JR train lines, or Ginza Station so you can jump on the subway. The one-way journey is ¥1,000 for adults and ¥500 for kids, and you buy your ticket on the bus. There is a bus every 15-20 minutes. Unlike the Tokyo Shuttle buses, Access Narita buses have toilets, which is handy.

There are a few night buses between 1 am and 5 am, departing Tokyo and Ginza stations for early-morning flights out. The two earliest buses cost ¥2,000.

Buses from Narita Airport to other places in Japan

Getting to more far-flung destinations around Tokyo by bus is a little difficult, as buses can rarely be booked from the airport. However, Willer Express has information on routes direct to Mt. Fuji/Kawaguchiko and Kosoku Bus can help you out with a ticket from Narita to Hakuba. While scheduled services from the airport are rare, there are plenty of buses in the other direction from places like Nikko and Omiya—again, check Willer Express.

narita taxi
Photo by iStock.com/Tuayai

Low-cost taxis from Narita to Tokyo

A regular taxi from Narita Airport to central Tokyo is very expensive–usually over ¥20,000, so it only makes sense if you are traveling in a group of four, or in a real pinch. However, there is a much cheaper taxi-like service that will take you directly to your hotel.

Recommended: Shared minibus transfer (quick and easy)

A nice, personal service and direct to your hotel, these are perhaps the most expensive bus services we recommend, but probably the most convenient. There are a couple of minibus/shared taxi services covering all hotels in the 15 most central wards of Tokyo, and they operate 24 hours a day. The driver will collect you at Departures and drop you off at your hotel, and for a fraction of the price of a normal taxi. For example, this shared transfer service for around ¥6,640 per person is a pretty good deal.

Regular trains from Narita to Tokyo

If you don’t have much luggage or don’t mind carting it around on foot, it may interest you to know that the cheapest regular trains that run the route between central Tokyo and Narita Airport are on the Keisei Line. The good thing about the Keisei Line is that it connects with the Toei Asakusa Subway Line and the JR Yamanote Line (Tokyo’s central loop line), so it can be accessed from a lot of different stations in central Tokyo. The bad news is that it’s a regular train—so catching it with your suitcase during rush hour may be hazardous to your health! The journey takes between 80-120 minutes, depending on where you’re heading.

Pro tip: To help you on your visit, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to taking Keisei trains from Narita to Tokyo.
regular keisei train
Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

Cheapest train from Narita to Tokyo – the Keisei Limited Express

Here’s a summary of the route and cost from Narita Airport to some of the main stations in Tokyo:

Destination Start (from NRT) Change at Next train Total cost
Ikebukuro Keisei Narita Limited Express Nippori Station JR Yamanote – for Shinjuku/Shibuya ¥1,220
Shinjuku Keisei Narita Limited Express Nippori Station JR Yamanote – for Shinjuku/Shibuya ¥1,250
Shibuya Keisei Narita Limited Express Nippori Station JR Yamanote – for Shinjuku/Shibuya ¥1,250
Tokyo Keisei Narita Limited Express Nippori Station JR Yamanote – for Tokyo ¥1,210
Asakusa Keisei Narita Limited Express Aoto or Keisei-Takasago Station Keisei Oshiage Line Local – for Haneda ¥1,110

If you’re wanting to take one of these cheapo options, at the Keisei train ticket counter, just ask for a ticket to your destination (but explicitly say not on the Skyliner). Or if you’re planning on having a few days in Tokyo, ask for a Suica or Pasmo card—this is a top-up IC card usable on all trains, buses, etc. in the Tokyo area. You can also get a card from JR station ticket offices.

Keisei Skyliner Express from Narita to Tokyo
The Skyliner—snazzy and fast. | Photo by iStock.com/amnachphoto

Express trains from Narita Airport

There are three types of express trains running from Narita to Tokyo and the surrounding areas.

The Sky Access Express and Skyliner

In addition to the regular trains detailed above, Keisei offer two speedy options from Narita to Tokyo.

Keisei Sky Access Express

Slightly more expensive than the regular Keisei train is the significantly faster Sky Access Express (not to be confused with the Skyliner), which actually offers better access to central Tokyo than the Skyliner because it dives into the Toei Asakusa Subway Line instead of arriving at the relatively inconvenient Nishi Nippori or Ueno Stations. You’ll pay about an extra ¥200 over the regular train, so, for example, the trip from Narita to Asakusa will cost you ¥1,310 (and it takes about 58 minutes). In our opinion, the extra couple hundred yen is worth it. But for maximum comfort and convenience, the Skyliner (below) is your best bet.

Keisei Skyliner

The snazzy Skyliner offers the speediest travel time—just 36 minutes to Nippori or 41 to Ueno—and it will cost you the discounted price of ¥2,171 one way if you purchase a ticket online. Keisei is the same company that runs the Tokyo Shuttle—so they also offer some discount tickets for the subway if you buy direct.

Again, we recommend looking at our dedicated guide to taking Keisei trains (regular, Access Express or Skyliner) from Narita to Tokyo—it’s chock-full of useful info and discount hacks.

The JR Narita Express and N’EX Tokyo Round-Trip ticket

narita to tokyo train - the narita express
Photo by iStock.com/coward_lion

Introduced in March 2015, the Japan Railways N’EX Tokyo Round-Trip ticket provides round-trip travel from Narita to Tokyo and back for ¥4,070 for adults and ¥2,030 for children. The ticket will get you as far as Kurihama in Kanagawa Prefecture and Omiya in Saitama, which is extraordinarily good value. It’s only available at Narita Airport to foreign passport holders (the cool thing for residents is that you don’t need a tourist visa) and has a validity period of 14 days.

Pro tip: Read our full guide to taking the JR Narita Express.

N’EX trains leave from Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station every 25-40 minutes or so, and stop at Narita Airport Terminal 2|3 Station on their way out. All N’EX trains go to Tokyo, but if your destination is Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro or another station further afield, you’ll need to check which N’EX trains will take you there (otherwise you’ll have to transfer). The timetable on the N’EX website shows you the exact time the train pulls into the station; if there’s no time listed, it doesn’t stop there.

Even if you can’t take advantage of some special ticket or pass, the Narita Express is still one of the most trouble-free ways of getting to the main JR stations in Tokyo, as you don’t have to fight for a seat, there’s lots of space for luggage and there’s no need to change trains. The regular price isn’t cheap though; it costs about ¥3,250 each way. You can buy tickets at the JR station and travel centers at Narita Airport. Also, if you plan on traveling beyond Tokyo, e.g. to Kyoto or Osaka, the same day or soon after, you could use a JR Pass (see below) to ride the N’EX.

Helicopter

You can also charter a helicopter for ¥55,160 or so per person. Not cheap, but certainly a unique airport transfer experience! It takes just 20 minutes from Narita to Tokyo by air.

Narita to Tokyo FAQs

japan rail pass
Photo by Carey Finn

Can I use a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) from Narita Airport to Tokyo?

Yes. However, given that it doesn’t cost that much to get into Tokyo, you should think very carefully before you activate your JR Pass—especially if you plan to spend the first few days of your trip in the city. You might want to choose another option to get into Tokyo, and then activate the pass when you embark on a longer inter-city trip.

If you haven’t got a Japan Rail Pass yet, you can reserve your pass online. Not sure if you need one? Read our article on which JR pass to choose.

What is the difference between Narita Station and the Narita Airport train stations?

About 8km, so make sure you don’t get off at Narita Station by mistake on your way back to the airport! Narita Station is not the one at the actual airport. Stay on the train until you reach the station for your terminal–Narita International Airport Terminal 1 Station or Terminal 2 Station (which serves both Terminal 2 and 3).

narita tokyo airport arrivals hall
Photo by iStock.com/winhorse

How do I get to Narita Airport from Tokyo?

On the way back, all of the same transport options apply. Simply reverse the route, check the times, and you’re good to go.

Which airport should I use to fly into Tokyo?

If it’s an option when you’re booking your flight to Tokyo, Haneda Airport is the one to choose, as it’s closer to the city and much snazzier too. However, flying into Narita Airport is often the only—or cheaper—option, and, as you can see, it’s well connected to Tokyo.

For recommendations on hotels near Narita Airport, see our accommodation listings. And for more helpful info on getting around once you’ve made it into the city, as well as other essential Tokyo basics, check out our eBook guide

While we do our best to ensure everything is correct, information is subject to change. This post was originally published on July 30, 2012. Last update: December, 2019.
Watch this next


Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox