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Updated: September 27, 2023
Narita International Airport, which opened in 1978, is often called the world's gateway to Tokyo.
Although it sits relatively far outside central Tokyo, in the city of Narita in Chiba Prefecture, excellent transport links mean it's an easy journey to or from the heart of the city.
Narita Airport is located a little further outside Tokyo than Haneda—roughly 50-60 kilometers from the city center—but great transportation links offer easy access into the city. Depending on your choice of transportation, it is possible to be in the city in around an hour, and your door-to-door journey will probably take between 90 and 120 minutes. The express lines out of Narita stop at several of Tokyo's biggest stations, from which you can head to your specific destination.
Be aware that taxis from Narita Airport are a convenient option, but they will be pricey. If you decide to take a cab, make sure to request a fixed fare as this is a relatively cost-effective and stress-free travel option.
The JR-operated Narita Express is your quickest way into Tokyo, connecting Narita Airport directly to the major areas of Tokyo Station, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro. Your Japan Rail Pass can be used on this service, however, seat reservations are required. The private railway company Keisei also runs the Skyliner express service from the airport to the Yamanote Line stations of Nippori and Ueno on the east side of Tokyo. All seats on the Skyliner must be reserved. If you have a limited budget and no time constraints, take a leisurely local train ride into Tokyo. You can purchase and/or charge a Suica or PASMO IC card to pay for your journey.
From Narita Airport:
About 50 minutes to Tokyo Station
About 73 minutes to Shinjuku Station
From Narita Airport: about 41 minutes to Ueno Station
From Narita Airport: about 90 minutes to Haneda Airport
Note: For those who have arrived at Narita in Terminal 2, please get on at Airport Terminal 2 Station, also called Narita Airport Terminal 2-3 Station.
Express buses to major stations, hotel districts and sightseeing areas leave from the airport at regular intervals. If you are traveling to a hectic area of Tokyo with lots of baggage, buses are a good option.
Multiple operators provide buses from Narita Airport to Tokyo. You have the so-called Limousine Bus as well as various shuttle buses. Buses run by different operators may have different stops and terminals. Please be careful to check the bus stops and terminals when purchasing a ticket.
From Narita Airport: about 60 minutes to Tokyo City Air Terminal
About 90 minutes to Haneda Airport
Note: For more details, check the Limousine Bus timetables.
From Narita Airport: around 65-80 minutes to Tokyo Station, and 77-92 minutes to Ginza Station, for only 1,300 yen per ticket.
Note: Journey times may vary depending on where you board the bus. For more information, please check the TYO-NRT timetables.
Narita runs flights to Japan's major cities, many of them on low-cost carriers. These routes include multiple flights a day to Kansai Airport (which serves Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe). It's a 80-minute flight to Osaka, a 100-minute flight to Sapporo in Hokkaido, and a 2.5-hour flight to Nagasaki.
At Narita, you can also catch express buses that run directly to many of Japan's most popular cities and attractions for tourists.
Getting from Haneda to Narita generally takes about 90 minutes. An Airport Limousine Bus service runs direct from Narita to Haneda.
An express train service run jointly by the Keikyu and Keisei lines runs between the two airports as well.
Narita Airport has three terminals. Many flights at Narita are international, but each terminal does have domestic flights, in particular Terminal 3, which is relatively new (it opened in 2015), and which was built primarily for low-cost carriers. A free shuttle bus runs between the terminals.
The flights out of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are, generally speaking, divided by airline alliance. SkyTeam has the Terminal 1 North Wing, Star Alliance has the Terminal 1 South Wing, and Oneworld has Terminal 2.
For more information, check the airport's official website.
You can also see a detailed map here.
Terminal 1 is divided into a North Wing and a South Wing (with a central building connecting the two).
The B1 level is where trains arrive and depart (Narita Airport Station), 1F is the arrival lobby (as well as bus & taxi pickup/drop-off), 2F is a parking lot accessway, 4F is where you find the departure lobby and various restaurants & shops, and 5F has more restaurants and shops as well as an observation deck.
Terminal 2 is divided into a Main Building and a Satellite Building.
The B1 level is where trains arrive and depart (Narita Airport Terminal 2 Station), 1F is the arrival lobby (as well as bus & taxi pickup/drop-off), 2F is a parking lot accessway, 3F is where you find the departure lobby, and 4F has restaurants and shops as well as an observation deck. Passport control is next to the departure lobby on 3F. You'll also be able to access the Satellite Building via walkway.
Terminal 3 is mainly for low-cost carriers. It is divided into a Main Building and a Satellite Building.
1F of the Main Building is the arrival lobby, and 2F of the Main Building is the departure lobby.
Narita has all sorts of services to help make your airport experience a pleasant one, and your Tokyo experience go more smoothly, from currency exchange and portable Wi-Fi rental to car rental services.
Many locations in Narita offer rentals of pocket Wi-Fi devices and prepaid SIM cards, including vending machines and specialized shops.
If you think you do want to use a pocket Wi-Fi during your stay in Tokyo, it might be a good idea to reserve one in advance.
Each terminal has companies that offer luggage storage. Coin lockers are available as well, most of them for a maximum of eight days.
Other luggage-related services are available, including a clothing storage/"coat check" service, a check-in luggage wrapping service (Terminal 1 and 2 only), and a luggage delivery service.
All three terminals at Narita have currency exchange kiosks, ATMs and offices selling travel insurance packages, both before and after passport control.
You'll find the counters of several car rental companies in the arrivals area of both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. (If you're in Terminal 3 and want to rent a car, Narita Airport recommends that you do so at Terminal 2.)
Both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 have a post office counter were you can mail letters or small packages either domestically or internationally.
In addition, all three terminals have mailboxes. These are on 1F and 4F in Terminals 1, on 1F and 3F in Terminal 2, and on 2F in Terminal 3.
Narita Airport has great food, shopping (including lots of duty free), lounges, observation decks, and a capsule hotel.
If you have a longer layover, you could pay a visit to the Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple, an ancient place of worship that is the city of Narita's main tourist attraction.
There are wide range of restaurants, both before and after passport control, which are some of the best known restaurants around Tokyo area.
You have Japanese classics like sushi & sashimi, ramen, curry, Chinese food, Western food, cafes, sandwich shops, and etc. If you want a great meal before your flight, you've got lots of options.
Don't leave Japan empty-handed. Narita has plenty of shops selling a huge selection of awesome Japanese souvenirs, and a great selection of fashion brands as well.
Each terminal has a large duty free shop full of luxurious brands.
Narita has several lounges run by individual airlines; a few lounges available to people who are members of certain credit cards; the Narita TraveLounge in Terminal 1, which is open to anyone for a small fee; and a range of group lounges/reception rooms available for rent.
Most of the "airport hotels" catering to Narita passengers are found in the city of Narita, either along the roads leading to the airport or near the big stations (Keisei Narita, Narita International Airport). If you're planning on sleeping near the airport the night before an early flight, you're all set, or if you just want a room for a few hours during the day, many hotels will be able to accommodate you.
Narita is home to a branch of the popular Nine Hours capsule hotel chain. It is located in the B1 level of Terminal 2. It's the perfect place if you're catching an early morning flight, or you have a layover and need a nap. You can rent a capsule by the hour, or just rent access a shower room (up to 1 hour).
Narita is easily accessible from any area near a stop on the Narita Express (Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Tokyo) or Skyliner (Ueno, Nippori).
Some hotels in central Tokyo offer their own limousine bus services that will take you door-to-door to Narita.