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.