Narita or Haneda? Which of Tokyo’s airports should you fly into

Japan Airlines at Narita International Airport

Japan Airlines at Narita International Airport (Source)

First time Japan visitors often ask me, “Which airport in Tokyo should I fly into, Narita or Haneda?”

This is a tough question as there is no easy answer.

Both airports are world class. They offer great services and some of the best on-time performances of any airport in the world.

Narita International Airport is located further from central Tokyo than Haneda International Airport. Almost all international flights land at this airport. There are plenty of public transportation options to reach central Tokyo from the airport including the JR Narita Express, the Keisei Skyliner, buses, taxis, and even helicopters.

Haneda International Airport is located closer to central Tokyo than Narita International Airport. Almost all domestic flights land at this airport. There are fewer transportation options from the airport to central Tokyo, some of which require transfers, but the journey is much quicker and cheaper.

Narita International Airport

Terminal 1 at Narita International Airport

Terminal 1 at Narita International Airport

If you will be flying into Tokyo from the United States or other international destinations, then you will most likely land at Narita International Airport. The airport is located about 37 miles (60 kilometers) east of central Tokyo.

About half of all international passengers traveling to Japan pass through Narita Airport. Even with all these passengers, Narita Airport is only the second busiest airport in Japan after Haneda Airport.

Narita Airport is the main international hub for Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA). The airport also serves as an international hub for United and Delta. Almost all major international airlines have flights that arrive and depart at Narita Airport.

You can also find low-cost carriers such as Jetstar, Vanilla Air, and Peach Aviation.

There are two companies that operate trains between Narita International Airport and central Tokyo. They are JR East (East Japan Railway Company) and Keisei Electric Railway.

Pros of arriving and departing at Narita International Airport

  • Larger selection of international airlines that land and depart
  • More public transportation options to central Tokyo than Haneda Airport
  • Narita Express allows direct access to many major stations including Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shibuya Station

Cons of arriving and departing at Narita International Airport

  • Further away from central Tokyo
  • Public transportation options are more expensive than Haneda Airport

How to get to Tokyo from Narita International Airport by JR East lines

JR East offers two main ways to reach central Tokyo from Narita Airport.

The first is the more expensive and comfortable Narita Express train. The second is the slower, but much cheaper, Narita Line Rapid Train/Sōbu Line Rapid Train.

JR Narita Express (N’EX) Train

Narita Express train (N'EX)  passing through a station in Tokyo

Narita Express train (N’EX) passing through a station in Tokyo

The Narita Express (N’EX) is my favorite way of reaching central Toyko from Narita Airport. I often stay in Shinjuku, so I usually find myself taking the Narita Express train each time I land in Tokyo.

The Narita Express stops at major stations across Tokyo including Tokyo Station, Shibuya Station, Shinjuku Station, and Ikebukuro Station. Certain trains continue on to Yokohama, Totsuka, and Ofuna.

Prices and times vary by your final destination and if you are traveling in the high or low season.

On board a Narita Express train

On board a Narita Express train

The inside of Narita Express train is very comfortable. They feature airplane style seats, plenty of luggage space, overhead bin space, and LCD screens. These screens alert travelers of important information about arriving and departing flights, the current location of the train, and estimated travel and arrival times.

Narita Express route map

Narita Express route map (red)

The journey on the Narita Express is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass, JR East Pass, and JR Kanto Area Pass. But keep in mind that using your JR Pass on the Narita Express will use up one of your pass days, so ensure that you plan your journey correctly.

For example, if you are departing from Tokyo and have at least one valid day left on your pass, then using your JR Pass for the Narita Express will save you money.

Narita Express one-way fares and times from Narita Airport to:

  • Tokyo Station: about 60 minutes. 3,020 yen (ordinary)/4,560 yen (first class)
  • Shinagawa Station: about 70 minutes. 3,190 (ordinary)/4,730 yen (first class)
  • Shibuya Station: about 80 minutes. 3,190 (ordinary)/4,730 yen (first class)
  • Shinjuku Station: about 85 minutes. 3,190 (ordinary)/4,730 yen (first class)
  • Ikebukuro Station: about 95 minutes. 3,190 (ordinary)/4,730 yen (first class)
  • Omiya Station: about 120 minutes. 3,840 (ordinary)/5,380 yen (first class)
  • Yokohama Station: about 90 minutes. 4,290 (ordinary)/5,830 yen (first class)
  • Ofuna Station: about 110 minutes. 4,620 (ordinary)/6,160 yen (first class)

N’EX Tokyo Round Trip Ticket

If your flights depart and arrive at Narita Airport, you can save money on the Narita Express by purchasing a round trip ticket.

The pass allows passengers to travel round trip between Narita Airport and stations across the Greater Tokyo Area (major stations listed above).

The round trip ticket costs 4,000 yen for adults and 2,000 yen for children (6-11). The pass can save you a considerable amount of money over purchasing separate one-way tickets.

The N’EX Tokyo Round Trip Ticket is good for reserved seats in ordinary cars only and is valid for 2 weeks after its first use.

A couple things to note about Narita Express train times and fares:

  • Not all Narita Express trains stop at the same stations. Make sure you check the schedule beforehand to ensure that you are on the right train and correct train car.
  • Depending on the season (high or low), reserved one-way ticket prices can be 200 yen higher or lower.
  • To look up the exact fares and times, you can visit http://www.hyperdia.com/en/.
  •  

    JR Narita Line Rapid Train/JR Sōbu Line Rapid Train

    JR Sōbu Line train between Chiba Station and Tokyo Station

    JR Sōbu Line train between Chiba Station and Tokyo Station

    An alternative to the more expensive Narita Express is the slower and cheaper Narita Line Rapid Train/Sōbu Line Rapid Train.

    The train leaves Narita Airport on the Narita Line as it heads towards Chiba Station. You do not need to change trains at Chiba Station. The train continues on the Sōbu Line to Tokyo Station.

    The journey takes about 90 minutes and costs 1,320 yen. There is only about one departure per hour.

    The journey on the Narita Line Rapid Train/Sōbu Line Rapid Train is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass, JR East Pass, and JR Kanto Area Pass.

    How to get to Tokyo from Narita International Airport by Keisei Electric Railway

    The Keisei Electric Railway operates three lines between Narita Airport and Tokyo: the Skyliner, the Keisei Narita Sky Access Line (Access Express), and the Keisei Main Line (Limited Express).

    Keisei Skyliner

    Keisei Skyliner train

    Keisei Skyliner train

    The Keisei Skyliner is one of the quickest transportation options into central Tokyo. The Skyliner travels at a top speed of 100 mph (160 km/h), just slower than the Shinkansen bullet train.

    The Skyliner connects Narita Airport Station with Keisei-Ueno Station with limited stops at Airport Terminal 2 Station and Nippori Station. No transfers are required to reach these two stations.

    Its main competitor is the JR Narita Express.

    Keisei Skyliner Route map

    Keisei Skyliner Route map

    The quickest one-way journey takes about 40 minutes. There are three departing trains per hour. The train stops at both Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station and Narita Airport Terminal 2-3 Station.

    From Narita Airport, the Skyliner takes about 40 minutes to reach Nippori Station and another 5 minutes to reach Keisei-Ueno Station.

    Onboard the Keisei Skyliner

    The interior of the Skyliner is quite similar to that of the Narita Express.

    All trains feature reserved, airplane style seats, a generous amount of luggage space, overhead bins, and free Wifi.

    One-way Skyliner fares:

    • Adults: 2,200 yen (non-Japanese citizens) or 2,470 yen (Japanese citizens)
    • Children: 1,100 yen (non-Japanese citizens) or 1,240 yen (Japanese citizens)

    The Skyliner works best for those who need to reach the Nippori or Ueno areas.

    If you need to reach other stations in central Tokyo, such as Tokyo Station, Ikebukuro Station, Shinjuku Station, or Shibuya Station, then you will need to transfer to another line or take the Narita Express.

    The full Keisei Skyliner timetable can be viewed at http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/skyliner/us/ae_timetable/index.html.

    Keisei Narita Sky Access Line (Access Express)

    Keisei Access Express route map

    Keisei Narita Sky Access Line (Access Express) route map

    The Keisei Narita Sky Access Line (Access Express) offers direct access to Nippori Station and Keisei Ueno Station, just less frequently, and slower than the Skyline. Other departures require a transfer, so be sure to check the schedule.

    The Access Express also offers direct access to stations in eastern Tokyo including Oshiage Station (Tokyo Skytree), Asakusa Station, Higashi-Ginza Station, and Haneda Airport. Other destinations will require a transfer.

    Fares vary by your final destination.

    One-way Keisei Narita Sky Access Line (Access Express) fares from Narita Airport to::

    • Keisei-Ueno Station: about 65 mintues. 1,240 yen
    • Oshiage Station: about 55 minutes. 1,170 yen
    • Asakusa Station (Tobu Toei Metro): about 60 mintues. 1,290 yen
    • Higashi-Ginza Station: about 70 minutes. 1,330 yen
    • Haneda Airport: about 105 minutes. 1,800 yen

    Keisei Main Line (Limited Express)

    Keisei Main Line (Limited Express) route map

    Keisei Main Line (Limited Express) route map

    The Keisei Main Line (Limited Express) is the slowest and cheapest Keisei train option from Narita Airport to destinations around Tokyo.

    The line runs about the same route as the Access Express Line but with much more frequent stops. If you wish to reach many of the stations, a transfer will be required.

    Fares vary by your final destination.

    One-way Keisei Main Line (Limited Express) fares from Narita Airport to:

    • Keisei-Funabashi Station: about 50 minutes. 740 yen
    • Aoto Station: about 67 minutes. 920 yen
    • Nippori Station: about 78 minutes. 1,030 yen
    • Keisei-Ueno Station: 83 minutes. 1,030 yen

    How to get to Tokyo from Narita International Airport by bus

    One of the many buses that departs from Narita Airport

    One of the many buses that departs from Narita Airport

    A great alternative to taking trains from Narita Airport to Tokyo is the bus.

    Many bus companies offer direct connections to various locations all across Tokyo and nearby prefectures.

    Prices for these buses vary greatly on services and your destination. Limousine buses can cost as much as 3,500 yen one-way while new, low-fare companies have started offering one-way fares for as low as 1,000 yen.

    Buses departing from Narita Airport leave from the bus lane on the first floor of each terminal.

    Buses arriving at Narita Airport arrive at the bus lane on the 4th floor of Terminal 1, the 1st and 3rd floors of Terminal 2, and outside of Terminal 3.

    A full list of bus companies, timetables, and fares can be viewed at http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/access/bus/.

    How to get to Tokyo from Narita International Airport by taxi

    One of the many taxis at Narita International Airport

    One of the many taxis at Narita International Airport

    So you want to take a taxi from Narita Airport to Tokyo? Be prepared to spend.

    As I mentioned before, Narita Airport is located about 37 miles (60 kilometers) east of central Tokyo. Since the airport is so far from the city center, taxi rides into the city are quite expensive. There are much cheaper options for reaching the city as explained before.

    If you must get a taxi, or you feel like splurging on one, you can expect to spend around 20,000 yen or more per ride to your destination.

    Taxi rates can vary greatly by your destination, time of the day, and traffic conditions. There are also fixed-rate taxi fare options available which I have listed below.

    Standard and fixed rate taxis can be found at stand 15 at Narita Airport Terminal 1 (1st floor) or stands 29, 30, and 31A at Narita Airport Terminal 2 (1st floor). Those at Terminal 3 will have to use the intercom on the 1st floor.

    Fixed one-way taxi fares from Narita Airport to::

    • Edogawa, Katsushika, Adachi: 16,000-18,500 yen
    • Koto, Sumida, Odaiba, Higashi-Yashio: 19,000-19,500 yen
    • Chuo, Chiyoda, Taito, Bunkyo, Arakawa: 20,000-21,500 yen
    • Shinjuku, Toshima, Nakano, Shibuya, Meguro, Minato (excluding Odaiba), Shinagawa (excluding Higashi-Yashio): 22,000-22,500 yen
    • Itabashi, Kita, Nerima: 23,500-25,000 yen
    • Setagaya, Suginami, Mitaka, Musashino: 24,500-26,500 yen

    Haneda International Airport

    Tokyo International Airport, or more commonly known as Haneda International Airport

    Tokyo International Airport, or more commonly known as Haneda International Airport

    Tokyo International Airport, or more commonly known as Haneda International Airport, is one of two major airports in the Greater Tokyo Area. The airport is located only 8 miles (14 kilometers) south of Tokyo Station.

    Almost all domestic flights departing and arriving in Tokyo are served by Haneda Airport. If you are flying from anywhere in Japan to Tokyo, then odds are you will be landing at Haneda.

    Unknown to many, Haneda Airport is actually the second busiest airport in Asia with over 72 million passengers passing through the airport in 2014.

    The airport serves as the primary base of Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA). It also serves as the base of smaller Japanese airlines including Solaseed Air, Air Do, Skymark Airlines, and StarFlyer.

    Through most international flights arriving in Tokyo depart and land at Narita Airport, many new international routes are beginning to be served by Haneda Airport.

    Some airlines that have routes here include Hawaiian Airlines (from Honolulu), Delta Airlines (from Los Angeles and Seattle), United Airlines (from San Francisco), and American Airlines (from Los Angeles).

    The two main ways to reach central Tokyo from Haneda Airport are the Keikyu Line and the Tokyo Monorail. Both require a transfer to the JR Yamanote Line to reach major stations in central Tokyo.

    Pros of arriving and departing at Haneda International Airport

    • The airport is much closer to central Tokyo than Narita Airport
    • Public transportation options are cheaper than Narita Airport

    Cons of arriving and departing at Haneda International Airport

    • Limited options for international flights
    • Trains leaving the airport for central Tokyo require a transfer
    • One of the busiest airports in the world

    How to get to Tokyo from Haneda International Airport by Keikyu Line and JR Yamanote Line

    Keikyu Line from Haneda Airport

    Keikyu Line from Haneda Airport

    Getting from Haneda International Airport to destinations across central Tokyo by Keikyu Line and JR Yamanote Line is simple, but requires a transfer at Shinagawa Station.

    The journey is cheap, quick, but requires at least two train lines if your final destination is not Shinagawa Station.

    To get to destinations such as Toyko Station, Shinjuku Station, or Shibuya Station, you will first have to board a Keikyu Line train (towards Sengakuji Station). You will need to transfer at Shinagawa Station to JR Yamanote Line.

    The JR Yamanote Line circles central Tokyo. From Shinagawa Station, the direction you travel on the JR Yamanote Line depends on your final destination.

    The journey from Haneda Airport to Shinagawa Station takes about 15 minutes and costs 410 yen.

    One-way JR Yamanote Line fares from Shinagawa Station to:

    • Shinjuku Station: about 19 minutes. 200 yen
    • Shibuya Station: about 12 minutes. 170 yen
    • Ebisu Station: about 10 minutes. 160 yen
    • Tokyo Station: about 11 minutes. 170 yen
    • Ueno Station: about 19 minutes. 200 yen

    How to get to Tokyo from Haneda International Airport by Tokyo Monorail and JR Yamanote Line

    Tokyo Monorail

    Tokyo Monorail

    Another way of getting to Tokyo from Haneda Airport is by the Tokyo Monorail. The monorail also requires a transfer to reach major station across Tokyo.

    From the international terminal at Haneda Airport, you will need to take the Tokyo Monorail to Hamamatsuchō Station. For here, you will be able to transfer to the JR Yamanote Line.

    The journey from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsuchō Station takes about 15 minutes and costs 490 yen.

    One-way JR Yamanote Line fares from Hamamatsuchō Station to:

    • Shinjuku Station: about 25 minutes. 200 yen
    • Shibuya Station: about 18 minutes. 200 yen
    • Ebisu Station: about 15 minutes. 170 yen
    • Tokyo Station: about 6 minutes. 160 yen
    • Ueno Station: about 14 minutes. 170 yen

    How to get from Haneda Airport to destinations across Tokyo and Japan by Keikyu Limousine Bus

    Keikyu Limousine Bus

    Keikyu Limousine Bus

    The Keikyu Limousine Bus provides direct access to destinations across the Greater Tokyo Area and beyond.

    Unlike the Keikyu Line train and Tokyo Monorail, the Keikyu Limousine Bus requires no transfers to reach your destination. This can be great for passengers with large luggage.

    The downside of taking the Keikyu Limousine Bus is that the destinations are limited which may require you take an additional train or metro line to reach your final destination.

    All seats on the bus are reserved and space is available for any luggage you may have.

    One-way Keikyu Limousine Bus fares from Haneda Airport to:

    • Yokohama Station: about 40 minutes. 580 yen
    • Yamashit Park/Minato Mirai 21 (Yokohama): about 35 minutes. 720 yen
    • Odaiba (Hotel Grand Pacific Le Daiba): about 30 minutes. 520 yen
    • Tokyo Sky Tree Town: about 50 minutes. 920 yen
    • Shibuya: about 60 minutes. 1,030 yen
    • Gotemba/Hakone Togendai Station: about 155 minutes. 2,260 yen
    • Hakone-Yumoto Station: about 130 minutes. 1,950 yen
    • Mt. Fuji: about 150 minutes. 2,470 yen
    • Shinigawa Station to Gotemba Premium Outlets: about 95 minutes. 1,650 yen

    How to get from Haneda Airport to destinations across Tokyo by Keikyu Taxi

    Taxis waiting at Haneda Airport

    Taxis waiting at Haneda Airport

    If you will be arriving early or late to Haneda Airport, or you just don’t want to deal with the hassle of public transportation, then taking a Keikyu Taxi could be your best option.

    Keikyu Taxi offers set fares which increase late at night and early in the morning.

    One-way Keikyu taxi fares from Haneda Airport to:

    • Chiyoda Area: 5,600 yen (set fare), 6,800 (late night)
    • Shibuya Area: 6,400 yen (set fare), 7,600 (late night)
    • Shinjuku Area: 6,800 yen (set fare), 8,200 (late night)
    • Taito Area: 6,900 yen (set fare), 8,200 (late night)
    • Toshima Area: 8,500 yen (set fare), 10,100 (late night)

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    9 Comments

    • Reply
      Olivia
      June 28, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Thanks for this very detailed and useful post!

    • Reply
      Elliott Fankuchen
      October 26, 2017 at 11:16 pm

      Is the monorail included on the Japan Rail pass?

      • Reply
        Anthony
        November 27, 2017 at 5:33 pm

        Elliott,

        Yes. The monorail is covered by the JR Rail Pass.

    • Reply
      Elizabeth Redel
      September 18, 2018 at 7:45 am

      Do you have information for transportation during the 2019 Rugby World Cup?

      • Reply
        Anthony
        October 8, 2018 at 2:21 am

        Elizabeth,

        Transportation options should be business as usual. You can find timetables, ticket prices, and detailed information by visiting http://www.hyperdia.com/en/

    • Reply
      Rich
      November 12, 2018 at 6:29 am

      Hi Anthony, this is a great post, but unless I missed the answer it seems you haven’t stated a preference for either airport.

      For a first time visitor looking to stay in Yokohama for the Rugby World Cup, which would you err towards?

      Also do you think it will still be viable to use the rail pass during the tournament as I assume the trains will be very busy, so booking the bullet train could be risky, unless you can book them all in one visit to the booking office at the first train station?

      Sorry for asking so much, but yours is the first post with useful information on I’ve found 🙂

      • Reply
        Anthony
        November 12, 2018 at 6:52 pm

        Rich,

        I always recommend Haneda Airport whether you are staying in Tokyo or Yokohama. It is much closer to Tokyo and very close to Yokohama. It might be more busy but I think you should be fine with seats for the bullet train even during the Rugby World Cup. If you know your plans ahead of time, you can book seat reservations in advance to be safe. Otherwise, just book a day or two before. Also remember, most trains have unreserved seats, and if those are full, you could stand. If you book a seat reservation and you don’t need it, you can always go back to the station and cancel it.

    • Reply
      Raymond Aquino Magsaysay
      January 6, 2019 at 12:09 am

      Anthony,

      Thanks for this detailed post. My son and I will be traveling through Japan in Feb and I’m considering getting a flight with a longer layover so we can explore Tokyo for a day. He has a US passport I don’t but I have a green card do you know if I can get my Visa there or do I need to get it here in LA? I’m also a foodie what would you recommend for us to go to to eat some delicious sushi, ramen and steak? Thank you so much for your time!

      • Reply
        Anthony
        January 6, 2019 at 12:25 am

        Raymond,
        Most tourists to Japan do not require a visa. Which country do you have a passport for? As for food, I recommend visiting Shinjuku and Shibuya. You will find an endless amount of sushi, ramen, and steak restaurants.

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