New Narita Express Ticket to be sold starting March 2015

Welcome to the first post of 2015. Before I begin, a quick thanks to those who are reading my blog entries and asking their questions. I will continue to help to the best of my ability and notify you of any interesting news regarding travel around Japan. For example, in this post.

East Japan Railway (aka JR East) has announced in a Japanese press release from last week that they are introducing a new ticket for foreigners traveling into and out of Narita Airport: The N’EX Tokyo Round-Trip Ticket. For a fare of 4,000 yen, the ticket includes an inbound trip from Narita Airport into Tokyo on the Narita Express, and then transportation by commuter service to any JR station in a designated area – the area of which includes most of Tokyo and the area around Yokohama, extending all the way towards Ofuna and Kamakura (home of the great daibutsu and gateway to Enoshima). Then, within 14 days of your initial trip you reverse the steps to board the Narita Express on the way back to Narita Airport.

The Narita Express is one of the premium trains that operates to and from Narita Airport. It has all-reserved seating and, with few exceptions, makes no stops between Tokyo station and the airport. It is clearly the most accessible train as well, as it stops at some of the major train stations in and near Tokyo – including Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku and Yokohama. A few trains also serve Ikebukuro, Omiya and Ofuna, and one service even reaches out all the way to Mount Takao on the western edge of Tokyo.

Regular fares on the Narita Express range anywhere from 3,020 yen one-way for a trip to Tokyo, up to 4,290 yen for a trip to Yokohama. With this discounted ticket for foreigners, on the other hand, it costs just 2,000 yen each way.

You will certainly see more details about this new round-trip ticket on the JR East English website soon.

There is a drawback to this, however…. the excellent 1,500 yen one-way ticket (Tokyo Direct Ticket), valid for a one-way trip out of Narita Airport, will be discontinued on March 14, 2015 – the same day that the new Round Trip ticket will be introduced.

The new deal is still good, and it’s still worth considering if you are planning to arrive and depart Narita Airport in Tokyo on your next Japan journey. There are a few conditions, though, where this new ticket would NOT be the best value, namely:

– If you are traveling “Open Jaw”, that is, landing at Narita Airport and departing Japan from another airport, or vice versa
– If you are traveling on a rail pass such as the Japan Rail Pass, JR East Rail Pass or JR Kanto Area Pass

If you are on an open jaw, or if your rail pass will not cover the day you are traveling out of the airport (if, for example, you plan to start using your pass on another date), then the better values for train travel out of Narita is the Keisei Skyliner, which costs 2,200 yen for a trip if you buy an online voucher in advance. Once you are in the city, transfer to the subway or JR to reach your final destination. A trip to Tokyo station using this method costs a total of 2,360 yen, while a trip to Shinjuku costs 2,400 yen. A transfer at Nippori is recommended, as it directly connects to several JR lines including the Yamanote Line (which loops around the city).

Naturally, if you use a rail pass that covers both journeys to and from Narita Airport – such as the ones listed above – there is no need to buy the new Round Trip Ticket, and you can make seat reservations at a staffed JR ticket counter by showing your pass.

Take the time to research your trip, and see what sort of trip is the better deal for you!

Of course, remember there are other ways to travel from Narita Airport. Here is my primer on travel from an airport to your hotel.

12 thoughts on “New Narita Express Ticket to be sold starting March 2015

  1. Mike

    Hi Jose,

    I came across to your site when I was doing research for my coming Japan trip in March. I actually became aware of the seishun 18 tickets from reading your popular blog about cheap Kyoto tickets.

    I figure I’d need some hand for my trip planning regarding fares. My gf and I plan to go straight from Narita airport to Osaka and then Kyoto for a total of about 2 weeks. Then we will head to Tokyo to stay for about 2 months.

    I’m currently looking at seishun 18 tickets which is the cheapest I have found so far, but since my gf REALLY wants to try the Sunrise overnight train, I probably have to spend big bucks while going to Tokyo from Osaka. If I bought the seishun 18 tickets, could I use them on any train to take us from Narita airport to tokyo to catch one that goes to Osaka? Or is there any way I can use seishun 18 to go to Osaka directly from Narita airport?

    Also, would you recommend seishun 18 or do you think there is a cheaper way around? I found that it only costs about 390~540 yen to travel between Osaka and Kyoto so at the moment I think I only get to use two out of five times for the seishun 18 (Tokyo->Osaka).

    Hope to hear from you, thanks!

    1. Hello Mike and thanks for reading my blog 🙂
      Let me go over some of the main requirements of the Seishun 18 Ticket.
      You can only buy the ticket at certain times of the year, for certain travel periods.
      The ticket is only valid during these dates:
      March 1 – April 10
      July 20 – September 10
      December 10 – January 10
      The sale period for the tickets is 10 days prior to the dates listed above.
      You can only use the Seishun 18 ticket for travel on local and rapid JR trains only. It is not valid for travel on any faster or limited services, including the Shinkansen and most overnight trains like the Sunrise train that your girlfriend is interested in.

      The Seishun 18 ticket, priced at 11,850 yen, is cheaper than two regular one-way tickets from Tokyo to Kyoto (8,210 yen each). You could potentially reap the benefits of the ticket if you travel on two days within the validity of the pass – one day traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto/Osaka, and the other returning from Kyoto/Osaka towards Tokyo. Note, of course, that this means most of your day would be spent traveling. In this case, however, you can travel between Tokyo and Kyoto/Osaka for only 2,875 yen per person in each direction.

      I would only use the Seishun 18 ticket for the long-distance journeys, and not for shorter trips like Narita Airport to Tokyo or Kyoto to Osaka by themselves. When traveling long distance by local train you will want to take a break every few hours at a major station for restrooms, food, etc. The main stations from Tokyo to Kyoto include: Yokohama, Odawara, Mishima, Atami, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi, Nagoya, Gifu, Maibara. I could give you a more specific breakdown if you want, depending on the day you are traveling.

      If on the other hand you travel or return on a day when the Seishun 18 is NOT valid, your best bet is to look at the various direct bus services between the two cities, which operate both day and night. If you want to splurge for the Sunrise train from Osaka to Tokyo then go for it, but remember that you cannot use the Seishun 18 ticket for that trip – you will have to pay the entire fare (basic fare, express surcharge and accommodation surcharge).

      If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask. Thanks again!

      1. Mike

        Hi Jose,

        Thanks for the clarification. First of all, my gf’s demand on experiencing the Sunrise overnight bus is firm, so I have no choice. My dilemma now is that I need to get to Osaka first, but for the Tokyo -> Osaka options I’ll need to get to Tokyo first. It means that 2000 yen NEX is probably a fixed cost on top of any bus/train I choose in Tokyo. I’m wondering if it’s worthwhile traveling to Tokyo for a bus or train to Osaka, or should I just look for options that go directly from Narita to Osaka?

        I found that if I take Peach airline from Narita airport to Osaka, it costs 6,350 yen each (from my research on their site, it turns out that morning is even cheaper at 4000ish yen but unfortunately I arrive at Narita in the late afternoon). So is there any ride from Tokyo -> Osaka that beats 4350 yen (I deduct the 2000 yen NEX to Tokyo) or around there?

        Since I’m arriving on March 20th, I’m within the Seishun 18 sales period. Isn’t 11850/5 = 2370 yen per trip? I’m confused about the 2875 yen you mentioned…

        When I was doing my research, I came across to some Chinese blogs sharing about Seishun 18. They said it’s possible to sell the rest of the Seishun 18 if you can’t finish it. Is that true?

        Thanks again for the reply. This is the first time I’m trying to stay in Japan for 2.5 months to experience their daily lives and culture, and there’s just way more to look into than as a tourist…

      2. Hi Mike

        Unfortunately I have not heard anything about ‘reselling’ the Seishun 18 ticket, so you’d have to do that at your own risk I’m afraid.

        Regarding the price breakdown of the Seishun 18: there are five spaces on the ticket, with each space used up for one day of travel by one person. So, the cost is 2,370 yen (11850/5) if one person uses the ticket on five different days, or if five people use the ticket on one day.

        The other figure that I mentioned to you, 2,875 yen, is actually 2,962 yen since I forgot to take the recent price changes into effect. Here is how the price would break down:
        *When you and your girlfriend travel one way from Tokyo to Osaka in the course of one day, it uses two of the five spaces on the Seishun 18.
        *When the two of you return it uses two more spaces.
        *11850 yen divided by 4 spaces equals 2,962 yen. That is the per-trip cost, per person.

        If you only use the Seishun 18 Ticket to travel in one direction, your cost is 5,925 yen per trip, per person (11850 divided by 2 spaces) which is still cheaper than the standard train fare.

        If you want to go from Narita to Osaka straight away, you could take a train or bus into Tokyo or Yokohama after you arrive, and then take an overnight bus from there to Osaka. You can make advance reservations on Willer Express, which has an English website. I see that for March 20, the overnight bus costs 8,100 yen per person for the RELAX bus leaving from Ikebukuro and arriving at WBT Umeda, their bus terminal in Osaka. Another bus from Shinjuku to WBT Umeda with an onboard restroom costs 8,800 yen per person. This is a little more expensive than the Seishun 18 would cost but bear in mind that you do not have to worry about accommodations if you travel on an overnight bus.

        Also there *IS* an overnight bus that you could use, if there is space available and if you are willing to wait at the airport for it. It is operated by Nanki Bus and costs 9,260 yen per person in each direction. It leaves Narita Airport at 21:35 (terminal 2) and 21:40 (terminal 1), arriving in Osaka by 7:30 the next morning. You would have to make a reservation once you land at Narita.

        Let me know what sounds best to you 🙂

  2. Mike

    HI Jose
    Sorry I got caught up with work and research these days so I’m progressing a bit slow here. I have more questions though.

    1. Seems like Seishun 18 is the cheapest even if I only use 2 tickets out of 5. So how long does it take if I use Seishun 18 to get on a train from Tokyo to Osaka or Kyoto?
    2. Since Kyoto and Osaka are not far from each other, I’m thinking about renting somewhere in the middle along the Hankyu Railway to avoid renting 2 places and thus 2 times cleaning fee. What do you think? Do you have any recommended website or district to stay in Oska/Kyoto? Is it generally cheaper to live in Osaka or Kyoto??
    Thanks 

    1. Hello Mike!
      The day trip from Tokyo to Kyoto using the Seishun 18 ticket is approximately nine hours on the Tokaido Main Line if you don’t stop to rest along the way. With breaks, it is probably 10-12 hours. You will probably want to make a rest stop every few hours or so. As I mentioned, Yokohama, Odawara, Mishima, Atami, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi, Nagoya, Gifu, Maibara are good places to make a rest stop for food, drinks or restrooms.
      I will give you an example based on the current (January) weekday timetable… this timetable will probably change by the time you get to Japan once the new timetables are in effect.
      Leave Tokyo Station 6:07 – Arrive Odawara 7:35
      Leave Odawara 7:59 – Arrive Numazu 8:39
      Depart Numazu 8:42 – Arrive Shizuoka 9:36
      Depart Shizuoka 10:00 – Arrive Hamamatsu 11:04
      Meal Break
      Depart Hamamatsu 12:30 – Arrive Toyohashi 12:54
      Depart Toyohashi 13:03 – Arrive Nagoya 13:57
      Depart Nagoya 14:30 – Arrive Ogaki 15:01
      Depart Ogaki 15:09 – Arrive Maibara 15:44
      Depart Maibara 15:44 – Arrive Kyoto 16:42
      So, about 10 1/2 hours if you do it this way. If you happen to miss a train, you probably won’t have to wait more than 20 minutes for another Tokaido Line train continuing in the same direction. The key is leave from Tokyo during the morning hours.

      It is another 30 minutes from Kyoto to Osaka using the JR Shin-Kaisoku, or Special Rapid train.

      Osaka is generally less expensive to stay in than Kyoto… though if you do a search on the Internet, as I did for someone else who wrote to me and is visiting Kyoto, you might be able to get some good rates on hotels around Kyoto station if you book well in advance.

      The Hankyu Railway and Keihan Railway are cheaper than the JR if you want to travel from Kyoto to Osaka. It’s important to note that Hankyu runs from the Central part of Kyoto, well north of Kyoto Station, to Osaka Umeda (next to JR Osaka station) while Keihan runs from the eastern part of Kyoto (i.e. Gion) to the central part of Osaka.

  3. Hi Jose,

    I came across your page and thought it was very helpful. I was wondering if the counter at Narita accept credit cards or cash when buying the N’EX Tokyo pass RT? Thank you!

  4. Low Pooi Hoon

    Hi Jose,

    With regard to NEX Tokyo round trip ticket, can I use it to travel from Narita to Yokohama and return from Yokohama to Tokyo. If i am not mistaken it is applicable for 14 days. Then to use the ticket again for my return trip from Tokyo to Narita on the 12th day.

    Is this ticket is for unlimited rides within 14 days?

  5. Low Pooi Hoon

    Hi Jose,

    If I am going to Yokohama direct from Narita, which of the below discount passes you recommend? I am quite confused with the various passes and not sure which one is the right one.

    1. JR Yokohama-Minatomirai Pass 1 day
    2. Minato-Burari Ticket
    3. Minatomirai Line 1 day ticket

    Places intend to visit in Yokohama :-

    1. Nissin Cup noodle museum
    2. Landmark tower
    3. Yamashita Park
    4. Hirakawa ship
    5. Chinatown
    7. Red Brick warehouse
    8. Nippon Maru
    9. Yamate/Motomachi

    1. Hello! Sorry for the delayed reply. I am slow to respond to messages during the summer months.
      In regards to your question about the Narita Express, the ticket (N’EX TOKYO ROUND TRIP TICKET) is only valid for a round-trip on the Narita Express – in other words, one trip from the airport, and one trip to the airport – within 14 days. So you can use the ticket to travel from Narita Airport to Yokohama, and then from Tokyo to Narita Airport on the 12th day.
      The Yokohama discount passes that you mentioned are only valid for travel within Yokohama.
      – JR Yokohama-Minatomirai One Day pass includes unlimited travel on a section of JR from Yokohama to Isogo (Negishi Line) and the Minatomirai Line from Yokohama to the terminal at Motomachi for one day, costing 520 yen.
      – The Minatomirai One Day Ticket is sold by Tokyu, and is only valid on trains on the Toyoko Line towards Yokohama. For example the ticket can be purchased in Shibuya, which is in Tokyo, but it is not sold in Yokohama. The ticket includes a round-trip from the station of purchase to Yokohama, and then unlimited travel on the Minatomirai Line from Yokohama to the terminal in Motomachi. Remember that the Toyoko and Minatomirai Lines use the same trains.
      – The Minato Burari ticket is a 500 yen all-day pass for the local buses and subways within Yokohama.

      I would suggest either the JR one-day pass or the Minato-Burari ticket for most of the places that you are visiting.

      Thank you for visiting my blog. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any more questions!

      – Jose

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