Getting to Japan from overseas

Welcome to Japan!

If you are not living here, first of all you have got to get to Japan.

There are numerous ways to do that of course, but most people will be entering Japan at one of major international airports mentioned on this page.

Here we outline the popular options for getting out of the airport and on your way to the snow.

  Narita International Airport
Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)
Kansai International Airport
Shin-Chitose Airport
Sendai Airport
Narita International Airport

* Also known as Tokyo Narita Airport
* Formerly and originally known as New Tokyo International Airport

Located in Chiba Prefecture, Narita International Airport is about 60km to the east of central Tokyo. The airport handles about half of international passengers coming to and from Japan and an even larger percentage of the cargo traffic. There are three terminals.

To get to many of the snow resort regions north of Tokyo, you will initially need to get into central Tokyo and there are a number of ways to get from Narita into central Tokyo and beyond.

Trains are a popular way to get to and from Narita International Airport as they are relatively quick and always on time - they are not prone to delays due to road congestion

There are two stations at Narita Airport - Narita Airport Station (for Terminal 1) and Airport Terminal 2 Station (for Terminal 2 and 3) with both Japan Railways (JR) and Keisei lines operating. Both are well signposted once you arrive in departures. Note that to get from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3, a free shuttle bus or a 500m walk is necessary.

Trains   Shortest time   Charge
Narita Express (N'EX) 成田エクスプレス 53 minutes to Tokyo All seats are reserved 3,020 yen
Skyliner スカイライナー 41 minutes to Ueno All seats are reserved 2,470 yen

The Narita Express (N'EX) is a limited express train service operated by JR and runs on the Narita and Sobu lines. The train runs approximately every 30 minutes or so in mornings and evenings and about once an hour during the daytime. Narita Express operates between Narita Airport and Tokyo Station and beyond - Shinagawa Station, Shibuya Station, Shinjuku Station, Ikebukuro Station and Yokohama Station.

The Skyliner is a limited express train service operated by the Keisei Electric Railway company. The train operates between Narita and Keisei Ueno Station and runs on the Narita Sky Access (keisei-narita-kuko-sen) route. The train stops only at Nippori Station. Keisei Ueno Station is about a 5 minute walk from the main JR-operated Ueno Station, making connections with the following JR train and subway lines fairly easy. The Yamanote line, Tohoku line, Takasaki lines; the Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen lines; the Ginza and Hibiya subway lines can be found at Ueno Station.

Both the Narita Express and Skyliner offer a lot of storage space and comfort and have power outlets for re-charging devices.

Other local trains also stop at the Narita Airport stations. These services are cheaper than the Narita Express and Skyliner, but they also take longer and as they are normal trains they are not as comfortable or prepared for large suitcases and baggage.

A number of bus services are available from the airport. They take longer than the express trains and are of course susceptible to possible delays due to congestion on the roads, but have do have the advantage of stopping at hotels etc. Buses are also one way to get from Narita International Airport to Haneda Airport.

Taking a taxi from the airport into central Tokyo is very expensive - for general purposes trains or buses are recommended.

The most stylish and most expensive way to get into Tokyo surely by helicopter! It only takes 20 minutes to Akasaka and costs just 270,000 yen. (Tax is extra, but you might get a sandwich!)


Tokyo International Airport
東京国際空港 (羽田空港)

* Commonly known as Haneda Airport
* Also known as Tokyo Haneda Airport

Haneda Airport is located about 14km south of Tokyo Station. Until 2010, Narita International Airport handled most of the international flights into the Tokyo region, but in that year Haneda opened a dedicated international terminal along with a fourth runway. That allowed long-haul flights during the night-time and in 2014 Haneda also opened long-haul flights during the daytime. Haneda is closer to central Tokyo than Narita, but still handles more domestic than international flights. It is the busiest airport in Japan.

From Tokyo Station take the JR Yamanote-sen or the JR Keihin Tohoku-sen train line to Hamamatsu Station. The journey takes about 10 minutes and costs 160 yen. Transfer to the Tokyo Monorail which takes you to Haneda Airport in about 20 minutes for 490 yen. Note that the Tokyo Monorail is not a JR operated line, but a Japan Rail Pass can be used.

Alternatively, transfer from the JR Keihin-Tohoku-sen line to the Keikyu Airport Line at Shinagawa Station to get to Haneda Airport.

A regular bus service between Tokyo Station and Haneda Airport takes around 30 minutes and costs 930 yen one-way.

A taxi is considerably more expensive than the above options with the charge obviously depending on where you are heading too.


Kansai International Airport

Kansai International Airport is located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay less than 50km from central Osaka. There are currently two terminals with a planned third. Terminal 2 is a low cost carrier terminal which provides lower landing fees than the main Terminal 1 and is currently used exclusively by Peach (the airline, not the fruit). Terminal 2 is not directly connected with Terminal 1 or Kansai Airport Station, but free shuttle buses do run between the two terminals and the station.

Kansai Airport Station
is shared by JR West and Nankai Electric Railway and each company operates two platforms. The available services are as follows:

JR Haruka
The Haruka limited express runs from the airport to Tennoji Station, Shin Osaka Station and Kyoto Station with trains running every 30-60 minutes. It takes 45 minutes to Shin-Osaka and costs 2470 yen. The Japan Rail Pass can be used for this service.  Haruka is the fastest way to get to Kyoto from Kansai International Airport.

JR Rapid Service
This service uses the same tracks to Tennoji and then uses the Osaka Loop Line to Osaka Station (63 minutes) and Kyobashi Station.  Trains depart about every 20 minutes and all seats are non-reserved. 

Nankai rapi:t
This curiously named service runs trains to Namba Station in Osaka. rapi:t α takes 29 minutes to Namba with the rapi:t β service taking 34 minutes.  They are the best way to get into central Osaka from Kansai International Airport. Kansai International Airport to Namba costs 1430 yen.

Nankai Rapid Service
This more conventionally named service uses the same lines as the rapi:t service, but the trains stop more often and take longer.  The journey to Namba takes 42 minutes and costs 890 yen.

Buses are available and leave the airport heading for various destinations around the Kansai region.  Charges are comparable with the train services but the buses stop at some major hotels and other places which make them a good choice for some. They take about 1 hour to get to central areas. Buses also connect the Kansai International Airport with the Itami Airport in Osaka.

Taxis are very expensive and not recommended - they might be costing you close to 20,000 yen to get into central Osaka.


New Chitose Airport (Shin Chitose Airport)

New Chitose Airport (Shin Chitose Airport in Japanese) is the third busiest airport in Japan behind Haneda and Narita. Apparently, the route between Shin-Chitose Airport and Haneda Airport is the busiest air route in the world serving 8.8 million passengers in 2013! 

The airport is next to Chitose Air Base and while they have separate runways they have interconnected taxiways and at times (such as when runways have been closed in winter due to blizzard conditions) the runways can be shared. Another interesting fact is that this was the first 24-hour airport in Japan back in 1994, though there is a limit to the number of flights in the early hours.

There is a domestic and international terminal at New Chitose Airport, with a total of 24 gates.

JR is the fastest means of transportation from the airport to Sapporo City. The Rapid Airport service from New Chitose Airport Station to Sapporo Station runs approximately every 15 minutes (except during early morning and late night) from after 8:00 to after 22:00, and takes as little as 36 minutes. If traveling prior to 8:00, you can take a local train bound for Sapporo Station. New Chitose Airport Station is directly connected with the 1st Floor basement in the airport terminal building.

One way is 1070 yen, 310 yen more for reserved seats and half price for children. Kitaka, Suika and Pasmo cards are acceptable when paying at ticket vending machines.

Chuo Bus and Hokuto Kotsu Bus operate services from the airport to Sapporo City and depart about every 10–15 minutes. The bus takes approximately 70 minutes to arrive in central Sapporo. The bus terminals can be found in two locations on the 1st Floor of the Domestic Terminal, and also on the 1st Floor of the International Terminal.

Tickets can be purchased at the bus counter or from the available ticket vending machines and these tickets can used for buses of both companies.

Special deals (for example round trip tickets) and coupon tickets are also available.

A one way costs 1030 yen, 520 yen for children.

Kitaka, Suika and Pasmo cards acceptable when paying at ticket vending machines.

Taxi stands outside both the Domestic Terminal and International Terminal. The journey into central Sapporo takes around 60 minutes by taxi and will cost you around 10-13000 yen, not including the expressway fee.


Sendai Airport

Sendai Airport is located about 14km to the south east of central Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture and offers a selection of (mostly) domestic flights with international flights to and from Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Honolulu and Guam.

The Sendai Airport Line (also known as the Sendai Airport Access Line) connects the airport with Sendai Station, the journey taking around 17-25 minutes. Sendai Station offers connections to the Tohoku Shinkansen and other local lines.

The airport can also be accessed easily by car using the Sendai Tobu toll road via Route 20.

Buses and taxis also can be found at the airport.

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