How to Be Strategic About Getting to Tokyo From Narita and Haneda Airports

If you come to Japan, most of you will arrive in either Narita International Airport or Haneda International Airport. These Japanese international airports are in the outer of Tokyo metropolitan region and  chances are you will be confused which transportation method you should use.

Locations of Narita and Haneda International Airport

Here, the most complicated part even for native Japanese is how to get to central Tokyo  as easily as possible or as cheaply as possible. In fact, there are too many ways to get to central Tokyo central so if you don’t know the best way to get there, especially if you are running out of time, carrying many baggage, traveling with kids, etc., you’d better know the most convenient travel method. In addition, although Narita International Airport and Haneda International Airport are the most important international airports in Japan, there is no unified shuttle service either in choice or in buying method.

In this blog, I’ll explain how to get from Narita International Airport or Haneda International Airport to central Tokyo by comparing cost, time, etc., and hotels for those who are looking to stay near the airports.

Before starting, if you don’t know how to travel efficiently in Japan, don’t forget to check out the article “Traveling in Japan? How to Be Prepared to Have The Best Trip“! This blog teaches you some basic knowledge you must to know to make your Japanese trip better!

NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: NRT

Arrival gate at Narita International Airport

Narita International Airport is the biggest international airport in Japan. There are 3 terminals: Terminal 1, Terminal 2. and Terminal 3. Narita International Airport is huge. Here is my best advice: follow the signs on the ground. When you don’t know which way you should go, simply look for direction signs. 

Here is the Narita International Airport official website

Bus stations at Narita International Airport
Indicate the terminal way
Domestic Departures at Narita International AirPort
Indicate the domestic departures

LOCATION OF NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Narita International Airport is located in Chiba prefecture, about 73 km from Tokyo station. It takes less than one hour between Narita International Airport and central Tokyo

AIRLINES AT NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Before arriving at Narita International Airport, you’d best know at which terminal you will arrive in order to know the next step: taking a bus, train, etc. Here is the airline table for Narita International Airport. 

NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT MAP

All you need to know first about Narita International Airport is the train stations. To begin with, there is no train station in terminal 3 so if you land there, you need to move to terminal 2 by using the free terminal shuttle bus (you can also walk between the two terminals but honestly the shuttle bus is the most convenient way). When looking for the shuttle bus, look for the bus stop number and if it’s yellow like the on picture, this is it!

Free terminal shuttle bus at Narita International Airport
Bus stop for the free terminal shuttle bus at Narita International Airport

At terminal 1, the name of the train station is Narita Airport Station (成田空港駅) or Narita Airport Terminal 1 (*In Japanese, the former is the correct name but because it’s not clear without “Terminal 1”, it’s also called the latter in English translation). At terminal 2, the name of the station is Airport Terminal 2 Station (空港第2ビル駅), or Narita Airport Terminal 2・3 (*Again, the latter is the English translation).

Keisei Main Line for Narita Airport
Narita International Airport Map

As you can see, there are two terminal shuttle buses at Terminal 2: No. 8 and No. 18. No. 18 is for domestic airlines of JAL (Japan Airlines) so except JAL airlines flights, you will take a bus at stop No.8 if you want to go to Terminal 1 or 3.

Please note: if you want to go to Terminal 3 from Terminal 2, go to the bus stop No. 1 which takes only 3 minutes. If you take a bus from No. 18, it takes 20 minutes!

The shuttle bus on the blue line starts from 5:00 to 22:30 every 7-30 minutes and the one on the green line start from 5:10 to 21:26 every 7-20 minutes. If you are running out of time and wonder when the next bus shuttle is coming, please check the screen in front of the bus stop. It indicates the time of the next bus.

HOW TO GET FROM NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TO TOKYO CENTRAL

Station at Narita International Airport

When you want to leave from Narita International Airport to central Tokyo, you have various option.

BUS: LIMOUSINE BUS

First, the bus. As I mentioned above, the limousine bus is a brand name so the “Airport Limousine” is not your only option. At Narita International Airport, 3 major companies role different name of buses for going to Tokyo central.

All buses have free wifi access and toilets on board, so once inside, you can be at peace.

Because your flight could be canceled or late, you cannot book a bus seat before arriving, except for the Airport Limousine.

Many bus companies at Narita International Airport

One of the complicated parts is that three buses sometimes go in the same direction and sometimes not. Therefore,  you should choose the bus based on “departure time”, “price” and “bus stop location” and all you need to do is to go to the information counter!

When at the information counter, you tell them what time you want to take the bus. Then they will show you multiple options by checking price and time. 

Please note, even though some bus companies bring you to the same direction, it doesn’t mean you will be dropped off at the same place. For example, one might drop you off in front of the station, another one farther away from the station. Therefore if you prefer the closest bus stop from the station, you must inform them.

To conclude, here’s a summary of the steps for taking a bus to central Tokyo.

  1. Once you arrive at Narita International Airport, go to the information counter and ask what your best option is
  2. Buy a ticket
  3. Go to the bus stop they direct you to
  4. Take the bus

Easy, right?

Keisei shuttle bus from Narita International Airport

In case you want to take a look at the bus schedule from Narita International Airport, check out Narita Airport Access Navigation.

For some directions,there are two bus stops at Terminal 2. It’s because, at Terminal 2, there are two information counters where people buy a bus ticket: North and South therefore each bus stop are near one of the desks.

Only for The Access Narita, can you buy a ticket inside the bus but I recommend you  buy one before getting on to ensure you have a spot.

TRAIN (NARITA EXPRESS / JR / KEISEI SKYLINER EXPRESS)

Do not try to understand all train maps from Narita to central Tokyo unless you happen to be you are not a train otaku, otherwise, it will just end up confusing you because of the five different train lines. In addition, those lines: Skyliner, Access Express, Keisei Main Line, Narita Express, and JR Lines, are operated by Keisei Electric Railway or Japan Railways(JR).

Railway companies at Narita International Airport

If you have a JR Rail Pass, you can save by using Narita Express or JR Lines. Don’t know about JR Rail Pass? Check out the article here!

Train map at Narita International Airport
www.narita-airport.jp/en/

Here is the train timetable. The table shows departures from Airport Terminal 2 Station (Narita Airport Terminal 2・3). Times for taking the train is a rough approximation, and they don’t include the time required for transfers. (¥) shows the price for IC card.

train table
* For transfers to Skyliner at Nippori Station

Taking the Skyliner express is the fastest way but it’s a bit tricky because you need to buy an extra ticket and reserve a seat.

WHICH TRANSPORT SHOULD I TAKE FROM NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT?

Various transports at Narita International Airport

If you are in panic right now thinking about how to get from Narita International Aiport to Tokyo central, you are completely normal. Japanese are also confused like you. So how the Japanese know the best transportation method is simple: “Google map” or transport app. You can use those apps or check Narita Airport Access Navigation

It all depends on your destination and time. For example, Skyliner is the fastest way so you may think Skyliner is the best transport to get to central Tokyo as soon as possible, however, Skyliner runs only every 40 minutes. On the other hand, Keisei Main Line runs every 20 minutes (except at night) so in some cases, Keisei Main Line could be your fastest transport.

Using a bus seems to be the most comfortable way with wifi and toilet but sometimes you have to wait for the next bus because of the high number of passengers. If you are running out of time, you’d better take the train, not the bus.

Here are the general factors in deciding the best intinerary from Narita to central Tokyo. I repeat, the result could be different due to the bus/train time schedule so you’d better check once you are ready to go.

  • If you’re with family: bus
  • If you have a lot of baggage: bus
  • If you want to go to your destination as soon as possible: train
  • If you have a JR Rail pass: train (Narita Express)
  • If you want to move as cheaply as possible: depends
  • If you want to go to Haneda International Airport: bus
  • If you definitely want to sit all the time: bus

In the end, I must inform you that in general, Narita is pretty crowded so take that into consideration for the timing. When you arrive at Narita and go to the information counter to buy a bus ticket, wait for a bus, etc., you can easily spend more than an hour.

HOTELS NEAR NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Sleepy and need a hotel near Narita International Airport? Here are the list of hotels which are popular.

*The price can vary. For exact quote please check the websites.

1. Narita Tobu Hotel Airport

Narita Tobu Hotel Airport

Narita Tobu Hotel Airport is the closest hotel whichto Narita International Airport. It takes only five minutes by free shuttle bus. The rooms were renovated in 2015 and the bed is larger than in other hotels.

2. Hotel Nikko Narita

Hotel Nikko Narita

Hotel Nikko Narita is located 10 minutes from the airport by free shuttle bus. Not only is it a convenient location but also the ‘wa design (Japanese traditional design)’ attracts people. The morning buffet provides tons of different food options.

3. 9h hours

9h hours

9h hours (nine hours) is a capsule hotel which is located inside of Narita International Terminal 2. I’d recommend this hotel for not only someone who wants to stay at night but also to take a nap or a shower. The price is very reasonable. 

HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: HND

Haneda International Airport

The number of international airlines which are connected to Haneda International Airport is much less than Narita International Airport’s but if you take a domestic flight, you may land in Haneda. Like Narita International Airport, there are 3 terminals: Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and International Terminal. Terminal 1 and 2 are only for domestic airlines as you can imagine.

In contrast to Narita, you cannot find any signs on the ground so you need to look up the way. Luckily, the terminals are not as big as Narita’s ones so at least you don’t need to panic, easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Haneda International Airport has two different homepages which look completely different: for the domestic terminal (Terminal 1 and Terminal 2) and International Terminal

LOCATION OF HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Haneda International Airport is in Tokyo but about 18 km awa from central Tokyo. It takes around 15 minutes between Haneda and a central Tokyo station such as Shinagawa Station.

AIRLINES AT HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Unlike Narita International Airport, airlines are limited so you can easily find your terminal. 

HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT MAP

Haneda International Airport is simple: each terminal has a station. Terminal 1 is Haneda Airport Terminal 1 (羽田空港第1ビル駅), Terminal 2 is Haneda Airport Terminal 2(羽田空港第2ビル駅) and International Terminal is Haneda Airport International Terminal Station (羽田空港国際線ビル駅).  

However, Haneda Airport Terminal 1 Station and  Haneda AirportTerminal station are for the monorail, not for the train. The train station is settled between 2 terminals and which is called Haneda Airport Domestic Terminal Station (羽田空港国内線ターミナル). You can cross through the underground pedestrian corridor on foot (pink line on the image below).

As well, two different terminal free shuttle buses are offered and they run every four minutes. When you looking for the shuttle bus from inside, look for the signboard. And once you’re outside, look for the red number sign. (Other buses are orange.)

Free Shuttle Bus at Haneda International Airport
"Free Shuttle Bus to Domestic Terminals"
Free terminal shuttle bus at Harita International Airport
Bus stop for the free terminal shuttle bus at Haneda International Airport
Haneda International Airport Map

The location of the station is totally different between Keikyu Line (train) and Tokyo Monorail (monorail) so please check your direction.

HOW TO GET FROM HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TO TOKYO CENTRAL

Haneda International Airport: International terminal

To get from Haneda International Airport to Tokyo central, you need to decide whether you’re talking a bus, train or monorail.

BUS: LIMOUSINE BUS

Bus tickets at Haneda International Airport
Bus tickets at Haneda International Airport

If you want to take the bus (limousine bus), there are two bus companies. You can choose between the Airport Limousine or the Keihin Kyuko. Again, both are “Limousine buses” and offer pretty the same service. “Airport Limousine” is the brand name by Airport Transport Service.

2 bus companies at Haneda International Airport

Again, you don’t need to book a bus ticket before arriving in Japan. Once you arrive at Haneda International Airport, please go to the information counter in the arrival hall in order to get a bus ticket.

Unlike in Narita International Airport’s buses, most of the destination have one bus option, whether it be the Airport Limousine or the Keihin Kyuko Bus (there are some exceptions). It means, how you choose the bus is dependent on your destination and you don’t have a choice. You can buy a ticket from ticket machines, but before buying one, first, you need to know which bus company you will use because each bus company has its own vending machine at a different location.

Airport Limousine Bus ticket vending machine at Haneda International Airport
Airport Limousine Bus ticket vending machine
Keikyu ticket vending machine at Haneda International Airport
Keikyu ticket vending machine

Of course, you can go to the information counter to ask them about your bus ticket. However, if I were you, I’d simply check my destination and the bus company then buy the ticket at the vending machine, instead of waiting in line. Here is a table to let you know which bus company you will use. For more information, check out the official site.

TRAIN

Keikyu ticket gate at Haneda International Airport
Keikyu ticket gate

Dissimilar to Narita International Airport, there’s only one train company (yes!): Keikyu Corporation. If you take a Keikyu train, you will be able to arrive in central Tokyo the fastest. If you take the train, please double-check the location of station. 

If you want to take thetrain from the International Terminal, simply go to the Haneda Airport International Terminal Station. although, as I mentioned before, if you are at Terminal 1 or 2, you have to look for a station called “Haneda Airport Domestic Terminal Station” which is between these ywo terminals.

Keikyu train connects to major stations in central Tokyo and it’seasy to trasfer to the JR trains. If you have a JR Rail Pass, you can take advantage of it. However, there is only one platform and it’s pretty difficult to understand which direction you should wait for the train, you may feel stressed. Plus, because many people use this train, so it’s a bit too tight to move with your baggage.

MONORAIL

Tokyo Monorail

Tokyo monorail is also one an options when going to central Tokyo from Haneda. First, compared with the Keikyu train, it costs much more. However, Tokyo monorail has its advantages. First, it’s much more spacious than the Keikyu train. Baggage spaces are offered so you can leave your baggage there and stay relaxed. Second, the ticket gate is on the same floor of the departure lobby of the International Terminal so it’s super easy to access. 

WHICH TRANSPORT SHOULD I TAKE FROM HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT?

A robot Pepper is welcoming at Haneda International Airport

In fact, most Japanese use the train instead of the bus and monorail due to its convenience and accessibility. Like for Narita International Airport, your best transport method depends on your situation so here I summarize general factors to choose a transport to get to Tokyo central.

  • If you want to try to arrive as soon as possible: Keikyu train
  • If you want to spend less money possible: Keikyu train
  • If you have a JR pass and prefer to take JR line: Keikyu train (easy to access to JR lines)
  • If your priority is to arrive in Tokyo central less stress possible: Tokyo Monorail
  • If you get from Haneda International Airport in the morning or at night: Keikyu train
  • If you have a lot of baggage: bus or Tokyo Monorail
  • If you want to arrive at your destination without changing a line:  bus
  • If you definitely want to sit all the time: bus

HOTELS NEAR HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

If you arrive at Haneda International Airport past midnight, you may need a hotel. Here are some hotels which at Haneda International Airport or nearby. Some costs are fixed and some are depended on the staying plan: just sleeping, with a meal, etc. 

*The price below can vary. For a accurate prices, please check the websites.

1. THE ROYAL PARK

The Royal Park

The Royal Park is the hotel is inside Haneda International Airport and its entrance is on the 3rd floor of the International Terminal. The building looks very classy and from the top floor, you can see Mt. Fuji if the view is clear!

2. Handea Excel Hotel Tokyu

Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu

Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu is directly connected to Terminal 2 which is close to the entrance for domestic flights. If you take a flight in the early morning but want to try to sleep as long as possible, Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu is highly recommended.

3. First Cabin Haneda Terminal 1

First Cabin Haneda Terminal 1

As the name points out, First Cabin Haneda Terminal 1 is located in Terminal 1. This hotel is good not only for staying for a night but also for day-use while waiting for the flight. There is a free limousine bus for customers to bring them to the International Terminal in the early morning from 3-4 o’clock.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT NARITA AND HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS

Turu Ton Tan Udon

Don’t you dare go to the International Airports without knowing these useful tips!

FREE WIFI

Free wifi at Narita International Airport

Starting from the very basic information, at both Narita International Airport and Haneda International Airport, free wifi is everywhere.

BUYING A SIM CARD

sim shops at Haneda International Airport

With free wifi at the airport, you feel relieved. But how about once you get out of there? You may think: “I need to buy a sim card”. Of course, you can, sim shops are everywhere at the airports.

However, I have to mention that the price is super expensive, not a little expensive. For example, when I was at Haneda International Airport, I was surprised that I couldn’t find the price table. They are all hidden so I needed to go to the counter to ask. Here is the price table that I saw (they will hate me a lot for this).

Sim card price

For example, my favorite electronic shop Yodobashi Akiba has various prepaid SIM card and it costs only ¥1,930 ($18) for data SIM with 1 GB while the price of the shop at the airport gives ¥3,800 ($36).

Furthermore free wifi is pretty much everywhere in Japan nowadays. Particularly, if you stay at the general hotel in Tokyo, you can get a pocket wifi called ‘handy’.  In my opinion, if you must have wifi from the airport to survive, you can buy a prepaid SIM card at the airport but if you want to save money like me, wait until you are in central Tokyo. If your hotel offers you handy, you’re lucky. If not, you’d better go to the electronic shop (if it’s big like Yodobashi Akiba, it’s better) to find your preferred prepaid card for your stay in Japan. Don’t forget to check out our article “What are the best data sims, pocket wifi and public wifi in Japan“!

PRAYER ROOM

Prayer room

As we explain on another blog “The Most Reliable Survival Guide to Life in Japan“, most of Japanese don’t practice but we do respect every religion. At both Narita International Airport and Haneda International Airport, there is a prayer room where everyone can enter freely all the time.

GOING TO THE AIRPLANE OBSERVATION DECK

Need to get out from the crowd and look for fresh air? I recommend you to go to the airplane observation deck at Narita International Airport or Haneda International Airport.

*Due to weather condition, it may be closed.

You are freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

SHOWER ROOM

Shower room

After your long flight, you may want to take a shower very badly. Here you go, the shower room! It costs ¥1,030 ($9) for the first 30 minutes. It seems a bit high but all you need to bring is just your clean clothes, and everything else is provided. 

The price includes shampoo/conditioner, body soap, bath towels, face towels, hair dryers, etc. You do not need to book in advance.

The system for showers is a bit different between Narita International Airport and Haneda International Airport. For example,

  • Although there is only one shower room on the 2nd floor of the arrival lobby at the International Terminal at Haneda , there are two shower spots: in the middle of the 2nd floor (before departure procedures) at Terminal 1 and on the Satellite 3rd floor (after departure procedures) at Terminal 2, at Narita.
  • The shower rooms are open 24h/7 at Haneda but the ones at Narita aren’t depending on which spots.

For more information, check out Narita Airport official website or Haneda International Airport official website. Finally, I need to mention that sometimes you may have to wait for a shower due to the number of people.

SOUVENIR SHOP / RESTAURANT

Shopping center at Haneda International Airport
Terminal 1 at Haneda International Airport

For your return, I want you to keep in your mind that at both Narita International Airport and Haneda International Airport, there are many souvenir shops. Especially, at Terminal 1 and 2 at Narita International Airpot and at Terminal 1 at Haneda International Airport, they are similar to shopping centers. Prices aren’t over exaggerated.

And of course, plenty of restaurants are there for you. Like in other airports, it costs a bit in some restaurants but if they are chains, the prices stay normal.

I must introduce one to of my favorite Japanese restaurants called “Tsuru Ton Tan (つるとんたん)” which is on the 4th floor of International Terminal at Haneda International Airport. This restaurant serves Japanese noodles called Udon in various ways. You can decide the amount of noodle from 1 to 3 so if you decide on, you really will understand that it costs extremely cheap!

Tsuru Ton Tan Restaurant

There is also another location of Tsuru Ton Tan Restaurant in central Tokyo. However, because most of the time we must wait for a long time to enter the restaurant, I prefer going to the one at Haneda International Airport. While I still have to wait for a while, in general, it’s shorter than other restaurants in Tokyo. Honestly, it’s worth waiting to eat the udon in Tsuru Ton Tan! 

IC CARD

Many buses and train companies offer promotions such as combining one-day metro tickets.

Surely you can save some points that way. However, if I were you, I’d just get an IC card such as Suica / PASMO while traveling in Japan. Especially, if you have a JR Pass, I don’t think you need an extra pass because JR lines are everywhere in Tokyo (However, using only JR lines is hard and you will need to take different trains, so you need an IC card.).

If you don’t know about IC cards or JR Rail Pass, please click here.

WORKING SPACE (NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT)

Working space at Narita International Airport
Working space at Narita International Airport

If you need a charger, this is where you should go What’s more, at Narita International Airport, on some floors, you can find desks where you can work in peace so you don’t need to go to a cafe if all you need is working space!

NIHONBASHI BRIDGE (HANEDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT)

Haneda Nihonbashi Bridge
Haneda Nihonbashi Bridge

Historically, the Nihonbashi Bridge was a symbol of Edo Era and a half-size replica was installed in 2010 on the 4th – 5th floor of  International Terminal at Haneda International Airport. Personally, it’s not mind-blowing but to see a mini old Edo city with its atmosphere, why not?

Japanese decoration at Haneda International Airport
Restaurant street on the 4th floor at Haneda International Airport
Display at Haneda International Airport

HELLO JAPAN, HELLO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS

Landing airplanes at Haneda International Airport

From my traveling experiences in the world, Narita International Airport and Haneda International Aiport are pretty advanced. You can find all-you-need there. However, as I’ve explained above, transportation is pretty complicated and even locals can easily be confused about the transit method, the train/bus stop location, the name of the station, and going between terminals. Therefore, if you are planning to come to Japan, I recommend you to check that information again and especially keep the airport map as a screenshot. I assure that it will help you.

For the last thing, I want to add that if I were you in one of the following situations:

  • Never came to Japan before
  • I’m not in a hurry to arrive in Tokyo central
  • You taking the train requires a transfer to your destination

I will take the bus. In Tokyo, because of too many train lines, even to transfer lines at the same station, sometimes you need more than 10 minutes. Also, if it’s rush hour like in the morning around 8 o’clock or at night from 5-8 o’clock, you even cannot move even 5 cm. Because when I travel to a country for the first time, I really don’t want to get exhausted with my suitcase, so if you are like me, I recommend you to take a bus.

To end, if you haven’t read the blog “Traveling in Japan? How to Be Prepared to Have The Best Trip“, don’t forget to check it out!

Have a nice trip and WELCOME TO JAPAN 😀

Mona
Mona
I 'm Japanese. I love eating and yes I'm always hungry. My mission is to share real aspects of Japanese culture and send true useful information for those who are coming to Japan. I can't recommend if I haven't experienced. Let's Otashift with us guys!

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