|Narita International Airport
Narita Kokusai Kūkō
|IATA: NRT – ICAO: RJAA|
|Operator||Narita International Airport Corporation (NAA)|
|Location||Narita, Chiba, Japan|
|Elevation AMSL||135 ft / 41 m|
|Number of passengers||35,478,146 (2007)|
|Total cargo (metric tonnes)||2,099,349 (2008)|
|Sources: Japanese AIP at AIS Japan
Passengers and cargo from ACI
:A.^ Extended from 2,180 m (7,152 ft) in Fall 2009.
Narita International Airport (成田国際空港 Narita Kokusai Kūkō ) (IATA: NRT, ICAO: RJAA) is an international airport serving the Greater Tokyo Area of Japan. It is located 57.5 km (35.7 mi) east of Tokyo Station and 7 km (4.3 mi) east-southeast of Narita Station in the city of Narita, with some portions extending into the the adjacent town of Shibayama.
Narita handles the majority of international passenger traffic to and from Japan, and is also a major connecting point for air traffic between Asia and the Americas. The airport handled 35,478,146 passengers in 2007. It is the second-busiest passenger airport in Japan, busiest air freight hub in Japan, and eighth-busiest air freight hub in the world. It serves as the main international hub of Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. It also serves as an Asian hub for Delta Air Lines. Under Japanese law, it is classified as a first class airport.
The airport was known as New Tokyo International Airport (新東京国際空港 Shin-Tōkyō Kokusai Kūkō) until 2004, but was commonly called "Tokyo Narita" even before it was officially renamed to differentiate it from Tokyo International Airport, commonly called "Tokyo Haneda."
By the early 1960s, Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport) was quickly becoming overcrowded. Its location on Tokyo Bay made further expansion difficult, as a large amount of new land would have to be created in order to build more runways and terminals. While this strategy was used for later airport projects in Japan (such as Kansai International Airport), the government believed that landfill in the bay would be too costly and difficult, and would hinder the development of the Port of Tokyo. Haneda also suffered from airspace restrictions due to its central location and proximity to US airbases, so the government feared that further expansion of Haneda would lead to overcrowding in the sky.
In 1962, the Japanese government began investigating possible alternatives to Haneda, and proposed a "New Tokyo International Airport" to take over Haneda's international flights. The rapid postwar growth of Tokyo caused a shortage of available flat land in the Kantō region, so the only viable location for the airport was in rural Chiba Prefecture. Initially, surveyors proposed placing the airport in the village of Tomisato; however, the site was moved 5 km northeast to the villages of Sanrizuka and Shibayama, where the Imperial Household had a large farming estate. This development plan was made public in 1966.
At the time, the socialist movement still possessed considerable strength in Japan, evidenced by the large-scale student riots in Tokyo in 1960. Many in the "new left" such as Chukaku-ha opposed the construction of Narita Airport, reasoning that the real purpose for the new airport was to promote capitalism and to provide additional facilities for US military aircraft in the event of war with the Soviet Union. These individuals sought to ally with the more conservative local farmers who simply did not want to give up their land for the airport.
Around 1966, a group of local residents combined with student activists and left-wing political parties formed a popular resistance group known as the Sanrizuka-Shibayama Union to Oppose the Airport (三里塚・芝山連合空港反対同盟 Sanrizuka-Shibayama Rengo Kūkō Hantai Dōmei ), which remained active until fracturing in 1983. Similar strategies had already been employed during the postwar era to block the expansion of Tachikawa Air Base and other US military facilities in Japan. In June and July 1966, the Union sent formal protests to the mayor of Narita, the governor and vice-governor of Chiba Prefecture and the prefectural office of the Liberal Democratic Party. In November 1967, when the Transport Ministry began surveying the perimeter of the airport, Union members set up roadblocks. The Zengakuren radical student union then began sending students to Narita to help the local farmers.
Eminent domain power had rarely been used in Japan up to that point. Traditionally, the Japanese government would offer to relocate homeowners in regions slated for expropriation, rather than condemn their property and pay compensation as provided by law. In the case of Narita Airport, this type of cooperative expropriation did not occur: some residents went as far as using terror by threatening to burn down new homes of anyone who would voluntarily move out.
Under the 1966 plan, the airport would have been completed in 1971, but due to the ongoing resettlement disputes, not all of the land for the airport was available by then. Finally, in 1971, the Japanese government began forcibly expropriating land. 291 protesters were arrested and more than 1,000 police, villagers and student militants were injured in a series of riots, notably on 16 September 1971 when three policemen were killed in a riot involving thousands. Some protesters chained themselves to their homes and refused to leave.
Takenaka Corporation constructed the first terminal building, which was completed in 1972. The first runway took several more years due to constant fights with the Union and sympathizers, who occupied several pieces of land necessary to complete the runway and temporarily built large towers in the runway's path. The runway was completed and the airport scheduled to open on March 30, 1978, but this plan was disrupted when, on March 26, 1978, a group armed with Molotov cocktails drove into the airport in a burning car, broke into the control tower and destroyed much of its equipment, causing approx. $500,000 in damages and delaying the opening by another two months, to May 20, 1978.
Although the airport did open, it opened under a level of security unprecedented in Japan. The airfield was surrounded by opaque metal fencing and overlooked by guard towers staffed with riot police. 14,000 security police were present at the airport's opening and were met by 6,000 protesters; a Japanese newscaster remarked at the time that "Narita resembles nothing so much as Saigon Airport during the Vietnam War." Protestors attacked police on the opening day with rocks and firebombs while police responded with water cannon; on the other side of Tokyo, a separate group of protestors claimed responsibility for cutting the power supply to an air traffic control facility at Tokorozawa, which shut down most air traffic in the Tokyo area for several hours.
The Diet of Japan passed a special statute, the Emergency Measures Act Relating to the Preservation of Security at New Tokyo International Airport (新東京国際空港の安全確保に関する緊急措置法), specifically banning the construction and use of buildings for violent and coercive purposes relating to the new airport. Passengers arriving at the airport were (and still are) subject to baggage and travel document searches before even entering the terminal, in an attempt to keep anti-airport activists and terrorists out of the facility.
The conflicts at Narita were a major factor in the decision to build Kansai International Airport in Osaka offshore on reclaimed land, instead of again trying to expropriate land in heavily populated areas.
JAL moved its main international hub from Haneda to Narita, and Northwest and Pan Am also moved their Asian regional hubs from Haneda to Narita. Pan Am sold its Pacific Division, including its Narita hub, to United Airlines in February 1986. ANA began scheduled international flights from Narita to Guam in 1986 and expanded its presence at the airport through the 1990s to become the #2 carrier at the airport after JAL.
New Tokyo International Airport was originally envisioned to have five runways, but the initial protests in 1965 led to a down-scaling of the plan to three runways: two parallel northwest/southeast runways 4,000 m in length and an intersecting northeast/southwest runway 3,200 m in length. Upon the airport's opening in 1978, only one of the parallel runways was completed; the other two runways were delayed to avoid aggravating the already tense situation surrounding the airport. The original plan also called for a high-speed rail line, the Narita Shinkansen, to connect the airport to central Tokyo, but this project was also cancelled with only some of the necessary land obtained.
By 1986, the strengthening Japanese yen was causing a surge of foreign business and leisure travel from Japan, which made Narita's capacity shortage more apparent. However, eight families continued to own slightly less than 53 acres of land on the site which would need to be expropriated in order to complete the other two runways. Although the government could legally force a sale of the land, it elected not to do so in order to avoid aggravating the situation. By 1992, Narita was handling 22 million passengers a year, despite only having a design capacity of 13 million.
On November 26, 1986, the airport authority began work on Phase II, a new runway north of the airport's original main runway. To avoid the problems that plagued the first phase, the Minister of Transport promised in 1991 that the expansion would not involve expropriation. Residents in surrounding regions were compensated for the increased noise-pollution with home upgrades and soundproofing.
A second passenger terminal opened in December 1992 at a cost of $1.36 billion. The new terminal had approximately 1.5 times the space of the older terminal, but its anti-congestion benefits were delayed because of the need to close and renovate much of the older terminal. The airport's land situation also meant that the taxiway to the new terminal was one-way for much of its length, and that taxi times between the terminal and runway were up to 30 minutes.
The second runway opened on April 17, 2002, in time for the World Cup events held in Japan and Korea that year. However, its final length of 2,180 m, much shorter than its original plan length (2500m), left it too short to accommodate Boeing 747s. The new runway opened up additional slots, particularly for carriers from other Asian countries, who were favored disproportionately over American and European incumbents. In particular, Taiwan flag carriers China Airlines and EVA Air were granted slots upon opening of the new runway and were able to move their Tokyo operations to Narita from Haneda Airport, where they had been operating since the opening of Narita in order to avoid frustrating Japanese relations with the People's Republic of China.
Through the end of the 1980s, Narita Airport's train station was located fairly far from the terminal, and passengers faced either a long walk or a bus ride (at an additional charge and subject to random security screenings). Transport Minister Shintaro Ishihara, now governor of Tokyo, pressed airport train operators JR and Keisei Railway to connect their lines directly to the airport's terminals, and opened up the underground station that would have accommodated the Shinkansen for regular train service. Direct train service to Terminal 1 began on March 19, 1991, and the old Narita Airport Station was renamed Higashi-Narita Station.
The Japanese government has invested in several infrastructure projects in order to address the demands of airport neighbors. The largest of these is the Shibayama Railway, a short railway connection between the Keisei Main Line and the area immediately east of Narita Airport. This line opened in 2002 with government and NAA support after extensive demands from Shibayama residents, and provides a direct rail link from Shibayama to Narita City, Chiba City and central Tokyo. Another such project is the Museum of Aeronautical Sciences in Shibayama Town, which draws tourists and student groups to the area.
In 2003, a Narita International Airport Corporation Act (成田国際空港株式会社法) was passed to provide for the privatization of the airport. As part of this change, on April 1, 2004, New Tokyo International Airport was officially renamed Narita International Airport, reflecting its popular designation since its opening. The airport was also moved from government control to the authority of a new Narita International Airport Corporation.
Following privatization, the airport has reached record traffic levels, and several construction projects are ongoing.
Narita's 2,180 m Runway B was extended to 2,500 m, which will allow increased use by heavy aircraft such as Boeing 747s. The limitations of the shorter runway were made apparent in the 2009 crash of FedEx Express Flight 80, which shut down the longer Runway A and forced some heavy aircraft to divert to other airports. The extension opened on October 22, 2009. It will allow an additional 20,000 flights per year.
Several gates at Narita are also being refitted with double-decker jetbridges to accommodate the Airbus A380.
Arguments over slots and landing fees have plagued the busy airport. Because so many airlines want to use it, the Japanese aviation authorities have limited the number of flights each airline can operate from this airport, making the airport expensive for both airlines and their passengers.
Although the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has given Narita a monopoly on international air service to the Tokyo region, that monopoly has been gradually weakening. Haneda has had limited international service for some time, beginning with flights to Taiwan and later replaced by flights to Gimpo Airport in Seoul, and Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai. Following the construction of Haneda's Runway D in 2009, the government aims to transfer other international services to Haneda in order to relieve Narita's congestion and expansion problems. The Ministry of Transport continues to investigate the possibility of building a new reliever airport on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay or off the Kujukuri coast of Chiba Prefecture. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has proposed redeveloping Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo as a civil airport.
The future Hyakuri Airfield (Ibaraki Airport), opening in March 11, 2010, will relieve traffic for domestic passengers destined to/from Ibaraki and Tochigi Prefectures, and potentially those in Gunma. Technically, the runway here is large enough for jumbo jets. Shizuoka Airport, opened June 2009, may take away Numazu-Fuji area passengers that would otherwise come to Narita.
One of the most constant criticisms of the airport has been its distance from central Tokyo—an hour by the fastest train, and often longer by road due to traffic jams. The distance is even more problematic for residents and businesses in west Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, both of which are much closer to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).
The Narita Rapid Railway, scheduled to open in 2010, will alleviate the problem to some extent by shaving 20 minutes off the travel time. It has been announced that new Skyliner express trains with a maximum speed of 160 km/h will travel on this new line between Tokyo's Nippori Station and Airport Terminal 2 Station in 36 minutes, which compares favourably with other major airports worldwide. A new expressway, the North Chiba Road, is also under construction along the Narita Rapid Railway corridor. Improvements such as the Wangan Expressway have already shaved off travel time to Kanagawa Prefecture by bypassing Tokyo.
Narita Airport has two separate terminals with separate underground train stations. Connection between the terminals is by shuttle bus (buses are available both inside and outside the security area. Buses inside the security is only for connecting passengers) and trains; there is no pedestrian connection.
Terminal 1 uses a satellite terminal design. The landside of the terminal is divided into a North Wing (北ウイング kita-uingu ), Central Building (中央ビル chūō-biru ), and South Wing (南ウイング minami-uingu ). Two circular satellites, Satellites 1 (gates 11-18) and 2 (gates 21-24), are connected to the North Wing, Satellite 3 (gates 26-38) is a linear concourse connected to the Central Building,Check-in is processed on the fourth floor, and departures and immigration control are on the third floor. Arriving passengers clear immigration on the second floor, then claim their baggage and clear customs on the first floor. Most shops and restaurants are located on the fourth floor of the Central Building. The South Wing includes a duty free mall called "Narita Nakamise", the largest airport duty-free brand boutique mall in Japan.
The North Wing is dominated by SkyTeam carriers as Continental Airlines and Delta Air Lines moved from Terminal 2 in 2007, shortly after a reciprocal move by Oneworld carriers American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. British Airways (Oneworld), Virgin Atlantic and Aircalin are the only non-SkyTeam carriers operating from the North Wing. Continental Airlines relocated to the South Wing on November 1, 2009 after joining Star Alliance. British Airways plans to move its operations to Terminal 2 in November 2010 in order to ease connections with Oneworld partner Japan Airlines.
The South Wing and Satellite 5 opened in June 2006 as a terminal for Star Alliance carriers. Today, all Star Alliance members use this wing, except for Air New Zealand and Egypt Air, which currently use Terminal 2. The following are non-Star Alliance members: EVA Air, MIAT,Uzbekistan Airways and Vladivostok. The South Wing has seven stories, and the first floor contains facilities for domestic flights by ANA.  It is the first airport terminal in Japan to offer curbside check-in service and baggage reconnecting facilities for passengers connecting from international to domestic flights.
Terminal 2 is divided into a main building (honkan) and satellite, both of which are designed around linear concourses. The two are connected by the Terminal 2 Shuttle System, which was designed by Japan Otis Elevator and was the first cable-driven people mover in Japan.
Check-in and departures and Immigration control for arriving passengers is on the second floor, and baggage claim and customs are on the first floor.
For domestic flights, three gates (65, 66, and 67) in the main building are connected to both the main departures concourse and to a separate domestic check-in facility. Passengers connecting between domestic and international flights must exit the gate area, walk to the other check-in area, and then check in for their connecting flight.
Japan Airlines is currently the main operator in T2; several Oneworld carriers which used to be in T1 (except British Airways) moved their operations to T2 in early 2007 so as to ease connections to and from flights operated by oneworld partner Japan Airlines. Air New Zealand and EgyptAir (Star Alliance carriers) and China Southern Airlines (which is a SkyTeam carrier) are the only non Oneworld carriers operating from Terminal 2.
|Aeroméxico||Mexico City||1 North|
|Air Canada||Calgary [seasonal; begins 28 March], Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver||1 South|
|Air China||Beijing-Capital, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Shanghai-Pudong, Shenzhen||1 South|
|Air France||Paris-Charles de Gaulle||1 North|
|Air India||Delhi, Mumbai||2|
|Air Macau||Macau [seasonal]||1|
|Air New Zealand||Auckland, Christchurch [ends 29 March]||2|
|Air Niugini||Port Moresby||2|
|Air Tahiti Nui||Papeete||2|
|Alitalia||Milan-Malpensa, Rome-Fiumicino||1 North|
|All Nippon Airways||Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Chicago-O'Hare, Dalian, Frankfurt, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Munich [begins 1 July], Nagoya-Centrair, New York-JFK, Okinawa, Osaka-Itami, Osaka-Kansai, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Qingdao, San Francisco, Sapporo-Chitose, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Shenyang, Singapore, Taipei-Taoyuan, Washington-Dulles||1 South|
|All Nippon Airways operated by Air Central||Nagoya-Centrair, Sendai||1 South|
|All Nippon Airways operated by Air Japan||Hong Kong, Honolulu, Singapore, Taipei-Taouyan||1 South|
|All Nippon Airways operated by Air Nippon||Fukuoka, Mumbai, Xiamen||1 South|
|All Nippon Airways operated by Ibex Airlines||Hiroshima, Komatsu, Sapporo-Chitose, Sendai||1 South|
|American Airlines||Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, New York-JFK||2|
|Asiana Airlines||Seoul-Incheon||1 South|
|Austrian Airlines||Vienna||1 South|
|British Airways||London-Heathrow||1 North|
|Cathay Pacific||Hong Kong, Taipei-Taoyuan||2|
|China Airlines||Honolulu, Taipei-Taoyuan||2|
|China Eastern Airlines||Beijing-Capital, Nanjing, Shanghai-Pudong, Xi'an||2|
|China Southern Airlines||Changchun, Dalian, Guangzhou, Shenyang||2|
|Continental Airlines||Houston-Intercontinental, Newark||1 South|
|Continental Airlines operated by Continental Micronesia||Guam||1 South|
|Delta Air Lines (see note)||Atlanta, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Busan, Detroit, Guam, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Manila, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Portland (OR), Saipan, Salt Lake City [seasonal], San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Taipei-Taoyuan||1 North|
|Emirates||Dubai [begins 28 March]||2|
|Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi [begins 27 March]||1|
|EVA Air||Taipei-Taoyuan||1 South|
|Garuda Indonesia||Denpasar/Bali, Jakarta||2|
|Iran Air||Beijing-Capital, Tehran-Imam Khomeini||2|
|Japan Airlines||Amsterdam, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Busan, Chicago-O'Hare, Dalian, Delhi, Denpasar/Bali, Frankfurt, Fukuoka, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, Milan-Malpensa, Moscow-Domodedovo, Nagoya-Centrair, New York-JFK, Osaka-Itami, Osaka-Kansai, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Rome-Fiumicino, San Francisco, São Paulo-Guarulhos, Sapporo-Chitose, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Taipei-Taoyuan, Vancouver||2|
|Japan Airlines operated by JAL Express||Fukuoka, Nagoya-Centrair, Osaka-Itami||2|
|Japan Airlines operated by JALways||Brisbane, Guam, Honolulu, Kona, Manila, Sydney||2|
|Japan Airlines operated by Japan Transocean Air||Okinawa||2|
|Jetstar Airways||Cairns, Gold Coast||2|
|Korean Air||Busan, Jeju, Los Angeles, Seoul-Incheon||1 North|
|Lufthansa||Frankfurt, Munich||1 South|
|Malaysia Airlines||Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur||2|
|MIAT Mongolian Airlines||Seoul-Incheon, Ulan Bator||1 South|
|Pakistan International Airlines||Beijing-Capital, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore||2|
|Philippine Airlines||Cebu, Manila||2|
|Qatar Airways||Doha [begins 26 April]||2|
|Scandinavian Airlines||Copenhagen||1 South|
|Singapore Airlines||Los Angeles, Singapore||1 South|
|SriLankan Airlines||Colombo, Malé||2|
|Swiss International Air Lines||Zürich||1 South|
|Thai Airways International||Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Phuket||1 South|
|Turkish Airlines||Istanbul-Atatürk||1 South|
|United Airlines||Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital [seasonal], Chicago-O'Hare, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Taipei-Taoyuan, Washington-Dulles||1 South|
|Uzbekistan Airways||Tashkent||1 South|
|Vietnam Airlines||Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City||2|
|Virgin Atlantic||London-Heathrow||1 North|
|Vladivostok Air||Khabarovsk [begins 28 March], Vladivostok [begins 28 March], Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk ||1 South|
Note: Delta also operates "international" flights to Osaka-Kansai and Nagoya which allow connections to destinations in Asia and the United States. Delta's flight to Ho Chi Minh City (which ends 26 March) has traffic rights for US-originated passengers only.
|AirBridgeCargo Airlines||Amsterdam, Moscow-Sheremetyevo|
|Air France Cargo||Paris-Charles de Gaulle|
|Air Hong Kong||Hong Kong|
|ANA & JP Express|
|Cathay Pacific||Hong Kong|
|China Cargo Airlines||Shanghai-Pudong|
|FedEx Express||Guangzhou, Memphis, Paris-Charles de Gaulle|
|Korean Air Cargo||Seoul-Incheon|
|MASkargo||Kuala Lumpur, Penang|
|Nippon Cargo Airlines||Amsterdam, Anchorage, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing-Capital, Chicago-O'Hare, Guadalajara, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Nagoya-Centrair, New York-JFK, Milan-Malpensa, Osaka-Kansai, San Francisco, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong|
|Polar Air Cargo|
|Singapore Airlines Cargo||Singapore|
|UPS Airlines||Louisville, Ontario, Shanghai, Clark|
Narita Airport has two rail connections, operated by Keisei Electric Railway and JR East. A third line, the Narita Rapid Railway, is currently under construction and scheduled for completion in 2010. Trains to and from Narita stop at Narita Airport Station (成田空港駅 Narita-kūkō-eki) in Terminal 1 and Airport Terminal 2 Station (空港第２ビル駅 Kūkō-daini-biru-eki) in Terminal 2.
The airport was originally planned to be served by the Narita Shinkansen, construction of which was started in 1974, but the same expropriation issues afflicting the airport also hit the new line and the plan was eventually officially abandoned in 1987. Direct train service to the terminal, on ordinary trains using a short spur track from previous right of way, thus only started in 1990, twelve years after the airport opened.
The most expensive train (and one of the fastest) to the airport is the Narita Express. Journey times between the airport and Tokyo Station in Chiyoda, Tokyo vary from 53 minutes to 70 minutes depending on the time of departure.
All Narita Express trains serve Narita Airport Terminal 1, Narita Airport Terminal 2 and Tokyo Station. Some trains also make additional stops between the airport and Tokyo - at Narita or at Chiba Station.
All seating on the Narita Express trains is reserved. The assigned seat number and car number are indicated on the tickets. Tickets can be purchased from agents in the arrivals hall of each terminal and from automatic ticket vending machines.
JR also offers rapid service Kaisoku Airport Narita trains to Tokyo Station, which take 90 minutes but cost less than the Narita Express. These trains stop at several stations on the Narita Line and Sobu Line en route to Tokyo. Most continue on to stops on the Yokosuka Line, going as far as Kurihama Station in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.
Keisei's Skyliner limited express travels to Nippori Station in 51 minutes - and Keisei Ueno Station in 56 minutes. The journey between Narita Airport and Nippori has the shortest time of any transportation link between the airport and central Tokyo. However, for travellers whose final destination is in the South of Tokyo or near Tokyo station, it can be quicker to take the Narita Express than to take the Skyliner and then make a connection at Nippori or Ueno.
From July 2010, the Skyliner will connect Narita Airport and Ueno in 36 minutes via the new Narita Sky Access Line, with trains running at up to 160 km/h.
As with the Narita Express, all seating on Skyliner trains is reserved. Seat allocations are indicated on the tickets, which can be purchased from agents in the airport terminal.
Regular Keisei trains cost about half as much as the Skyliner and are the cheapest rail connection to the airport, although they make many stops, are slow and are often crowded.
Keisei also offers connecting and through service from Narita Airport to Haneda Airport, a cooperative service with the Toei Asakusa Line and Keihin Kyuko Railway. Airport Rapid Limited (エアポート快特 Eapōto Kaitoku ) trains, which make limited stops on the Asakusa and Keikyu lines, are denoted on signboards by an aircraft icon.
There are regular bus services to the Tokyo City Air Terminal, major hotels and railway stations in the Greater Tokyo Area. These are often slower than the trains because of traffic jams. The chief operator of these services is Airport Transport Service under the "Friendly Airport Limousine" brand. Other operators include Keisei Bus, Chiba Kotsu and Narita Kuko Kotsu.
Taxi service is available, although it is the next most expensive mode of travel to the airport after the helicopter.
The vast majority of Narita's visitors come there for one reason only: Narita Airport, Tokyo's international gateway. But there are a few attractions in the vicinity if you have a short layover and don't want to waste 2-3 hours of it on the long hike to Tokyo. Firstly, Narita town itself is very charming with lots of quaint winding old streets lined with old wooden shops. The pace of life here is dramatically different to that of nearby Tokyo and is very relaxed. This is a major congregation point for airline staff too so you can take it that most of the foreigners in town are Air Crew. This means there's a bit more to Narita's nightlife than may seem at first in this sleepy town.
Narita Airport and Japan Tourism were experimenting with conducting short tours for passengers with layovers at Narita Airport, but this seems to have ended; visitors can use the Retrobus instead (see Get Around).
Narita Airport (成田空港 Narita-kūkō, IATA: NRT ICAO: RJAA), located nearly 70 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, is Japan's largest international airport. The airport is generally modern and efficient, but sometimes overcrowded (particularly at immigration). Security has been rather heavy, especially when coming in, due to continuing controversy over land expropriated for the airport - there are plans in the works, however, to relax the checkpoints at train stations and possibly the entry gates for vehicles as part of the first security overhaul since the airport's 1978 opening.
The airport has two terminals connected by both train and bus. Foreign airlines operate out of either terminal, with Japanese carriers ANA and JAL operating out of terminals 1 and 2, respectively.
The South Wing of Terminal 1 opened in June of 2006, and now most airlines in the Star Alliance (e.g. ANA, United, Continental, Air Canada, SAS) operate out of that section (although Air New Zealand operates from Terminal 2). Carriers in the other two major airline alliances are also grouped together: the Skyteam Alliance (e.g. Delta/Northwest, Air France, KLM, Korean Air) operates out of the North Wing of Terminal 1, and the OneWorld Alliance (e.g. JAL, American, British Airways, Finnair) operates out of Terminal 2. Check the airport's website just prior to your departure to determine the terminal you will arrive at. On the way to the airport, there are also lists (in English) posted near the doors of trains going to Narita.
There are Citibank cash machines that accept international ATM/credit cards once you leave customs on the arrivals floor of both terminals. Recently, 7-Eleven affiliated Seven Bank ATMs accepting foreign cards can also be found throughout the airport.
There are many ways to travel between Narita Airport and central Tokyo. For a first-time visitor, suffering jet-lag, laden with luggage and holding a reservation for a major hotel, the easiest option is often to take the Limousine Bus direct to the hotel. A close second is taking one of the express trains to Tokyo or Ueno Station and then transferring to a taxi for the final leg. If taking the bus, note that traffic jams can cause you to reach your destination a lot later than you were told when you boarded.
When departing Narita, the better shops and restaurants are located in the check-in area: after passing security and immigration, all that's really available is expensive duty-free and some convenience store sundries. But remember that Japan restricts liquids in carry-on baggage, and plan to buy drinks for the plane after security.
If you're at Narita for a connecting flight, you may wish to use the dayrooms and showers inside the terminal, past security. Dayrooms are paid for by the hour; ¥1000 for the first hour and ¥500 for each additional hour. The dayroom consists of a bed and a bathroom with a shower. It's a great way to refresh yourself before your next flight. If you just want to take a shower, you can get a shower room for ¥500 for a half hour. Soap and shampoo are provided, but not things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shavers, and deodorant, so bring them in your carry-on with your change of clothes. Twin dayrooms are available for ¥1600 for the first hour and ¥800 for each additional hour. Dayroom reservations can be made up to a month in advance 
WiFi is available throughout the airport with the SSID NRT-AIRPORT. Access is quite inexpensive; ¥500 per 24 hours. 
If you're really in a hurry (depending on your definition of the term), Narita Heli Express  will whisk you to or from Tokyo Heliport (in Shin-Kiba). The regular fare is ¥260,000 per flight, which means that a solo passenger would spend the cost of one night's stay at the average Tokyo hotel every minute during the 20 minute ride. But if you share the ride with four other willing companions (the helicopter seats up to five), it splits down to ¥52000 per passenger.
When making a journey-time comparison with other transport methods, one should take account of the time required to travel between one's point of origin and the heliport in Shin-Kiba and the time taken for travel between the helipad at Narita airport and the relevant terminal building. For a journey from the Tokyo station area to Narita Terminal 2, the time difference may be 20 minutes or less.
IF this tickles your interest, keep in mind that the helicopter also has service to Kawajima, Saitama prefecture in 30 minutes (¥235,000 per flight) and Maebashi, Gunma prefecture in 40 minutes (¥355,000).
Another helicopter service, Mori Building City Air Service, or MCAS , began operations in September 2009. MCAS operates helicopter services on a regular schedule into the Tokyo area. The standard one-way fare (¥50000 per person) includes a 15-minute trip by limousine from Narita Airport to the Sakura Heliport, followed by a 15-minute helicopter ride to the Ark Hills Heliport in Akasaka, and finally, a trip by limousine to any destination in Chiyoda, Chuo, Minato and Shibuya wards. A limousine trip to any other Tokyo ward outside of this zone incurs an additional surcharge. Until December 31, 2009, the standard one-way fare is discounted to ¥38000 as part of a service launch campaign.
Travelling to Narita City?
There are two train lines from Narita and both will get you into Tokyo. Note that if coming to the airport, each terminal has its own station and it is imperative that you get off at the right one. The stop for Terminal 1 is Narita Airport (成田空港), and the stop for Terminal 2 is, appropriately, Airport Terminal 2 (空港第２ビル), pronounced kūkō dai-ni biru, or literally, "Airport Number 2 Building". Lists of airlines and their terminals are posted inside the trains.
From Narita Airport, the fastest and most expensive way (by rail) into Tokyo is the Japan Railways (JR) Narita Express (N'EX)  into central Tokyo Station. The ride takes 55 minutes, costs ¥2,940 and offers the best connections to Shinkansen (bullet train) services or the JR Yamanote loop line. Trains usually depart Terminal 1 at around 15 and 45 minutes past the hour; there is one hourly departure between 12 Noon and 1 PM, and after 8 PM. Smoking is not permitted on board the Narita Express, and all seats are reserved. Brand new E259-series trains, which offer a smoother and more secure ride, have been introduced on the service from October 2009; they will be fully implemented on all runs by June 2010.
Alternatively, you can continue onward in the same train, which splits in two with the front half heading west to Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Omiya, while the rear cars go south to Shinagawa, Yokohama and Ofuna. Reservations are required but can be purchased just before boarding if there is space (and there usually is). If there is no space, JR will sell standing tickets for ¥500 less.
JR East sells a Suica fare card, called "Suica & N'EX" , exclusively to foreign visitors at a cost of ¥3500 for standard class and ¥5000 for the green car (First class). The cost includes a one-way discounted fare on the Narita Express (standard class or green class, depending on what is purchased) and regular JR lines from the airport to any destination in the Tokyo metropolitan area; ¥1500 to use on rail travel in Tokyo or on purchases at locations that accept the Suica card, and a ¥500 deposit. The "Suica & N'EX" card is sold only at Narita Airport, and can be purchased using cash or credit card. It can also be recharged with additional funds, but only by paying cash. (As an example, under this fare a one-way trip on the Narita Express from the airport to Shinjuku in standard class would cost only ¥1500, compared to the normal fare of ¥3110, but keep in mind that you will have to pay the normal fare to use the Narita Express for your return trip to the airport.)
JR also operates Rapid trains on the Sobu/Narita line, leaving once per hour and stopping at various points along the way, including Chiba. To Tokyo the trip is approximately 82 minutes and costs ¥1,280. These are normal, non-smoking commuter trains and often get crowded during rush hour (though boarding at Narita Airport should not be a problem).
If you have a voucher for a JR pass, then you should exchange it here at the JR View Plaza Travel Service Center (Regular JR ticket counter when the View Plaza is closed), as the Narita Express is free with a Japan Rail Pass. You can also make onward reservations from Tokyo.
The private Keisei (京成, stylized as K'SEI) line has trains to central Tokyo and a few that go directly to Haneda airport.
Keisei's Skyliner  with reserved seats costs ¥1920 and goes directly from Narita Airport to Ueno or Nippori in one hour, with a brief intermediate stop at Funabashi. Trains usually depart every 40 minutes. Smoking is permitted in the train's end cars (car 1 and car 8).
At Keisei Ueno Station, you can walk over to JR Ueno station to connect to the JR Yamanote line and northbound Shinkansen trains. A faster transfer to the Yamanote line can be done at Nippori Station, as both Keisei and JR share one station.
The New Skyliner
A new route for the Skyliner service will open in the summer of 2010, which will use a more direct route from Narita Airport into the Tokyo area. Currently coined the New Skyliner, these trains will travel over US$10 billion worth of new and refurbished track. With new trains operating at a top speed of 160 km/h, the New Skyliner will slash the travel time from Narita Airport's Terminal 2 and Nippori Station in Tokyo to 36 minutes (compared to 110 km/h and 51 minutes on the current Skyliner service). Fares for the New Skyliner have been set at ¥2400 each way.
There are also plans to eventually link Narita Airport to Haneda Airport via the new line, which may pose a serious threat to Airport Limousine bus service between these airports (see "By Bus").
In the interim, it will be interesting to see how the New Skyliner stacks up to JR East's refurbished Narita Express service. The selling point for the New Skyliner will be its speed into Tokyo, while the Narita Express will continue to promote its direct, one-seat service to Shinkansen trains and a good number of Tokyo's major train stations.
Keisei also offers a combination ticket for foreigners called the "Skyliner & Metro Pass". This special ticket consists of one Skyliner trip from Narita to Nippori or Ueno, plus an open ticket to ride all subway lines operated by Tokyo Metro for either one or two consecutive days. The cost for the Skyliner and a one-day open ticket on the Tokyo Metro is ¥2100, while the two-day option costs ¥2480. If you intend to use the Tokyo Metro frequently, this combination ticket will save you between ¥530 and ¥860 respectively, compared to purchasing Skyliner and Tokyo Metro open tickets separately. Note that this plan does not cover JR trains or subway trains operated by Toei. If you board a Tokyo Metro train that continues onto a non-Tokyo Metro railway line, you will have to pay a fare difference.
The budget option from Narita Airport is the limited express Keisei train, which costs ¥1000 to go to Ueno and Nippori. The limited express takes about 20 minutes longer than the Skyliner and can be crowded at rush hour, although boarding at Narita is rarely a problem. No smoking is permitted on these trains, and a Suica or PASMO card (see Tokyo/Get around) can be used.
Note that most, but not all limited express trains go to Ueno and Nippori, so check the train's destination before boarding. A few Keisei trains run through to the Toei Asakusa subway line. A few trains even go all the way to Haneda Airport on the Keikyu line. But in most cases, you can take a limited express train to Aoto station, and switch to the train across the platform for service on the Asakusa subway line, which can be used for going to Asakusa (75 minutes from Narita, ¥1120) and Ginza (Higashi-Ginza station, 90 minutes, ¥1160).
There are also the options of transferring at Funabashi station to the JR Chūō-Sobu line or at Katsutadai station to the Tōyō Rapid with through service to the Tōzai subway line, both of which go right through the middle of Tokyo. The Chūō-Sobu line goes through Akihabara (86 minutes from Narita, ¥1100), Ochanomizu, Yotsuya and Shinjuku (104 minutes, ¥1260) and facilitates an easy transfer to the regular JR Chūō express, which goes as far west as Tachikawa, Ōme, Takao and other destinations beyond. The Tōzai line takes a slight southern approach with stops including Kiba (77 minutes, ¥1400), Nihonbashi, Iidabashi and Takadanobaba (98 minutes, ¥1440).
Note that none of the subway or Chūō lines are specifically prepared for travelers with big luggage and tend to get crowded once inside the Yamanote ring, the exchanges at Katsutadai and Funabashi are usually rather pleasant though. Using a stored farecard (Suica or PASMO) will prove to be convenient.
There is also a network of Airport Limousine shuttle buses that serve most major hubs within Tokyo, stopping at major hotels, as well as some suburbs. Prices are comparable to the Narita Express train services (¥3,000/person), but are convenient for the first-time traveler as they take you directly to your hotel. The Airport Limousine is also the best way to transfer to Haneda Airport. The journey to most points in central Tokyo takes 90 minutes or so, but watch out in rush hour (especially on the way to the airport) as there may be traffic jams.
The Airport Limousine buses make three pickup stops (Terminal 1 North Wing, Terminal 1 South Wing, Terminal 2) and two dropoff stops (Terminal 1 and Terminal 2).
A taxi to central Tokyo is extremely expensive, on the order of ¥30000 if you hail one directly by yourself (equivalent to a few nights stay in the average Tokyo hotel), and you are more likely to get stuck in a traffic jam than save any time. Flat fare taxi cabs to Tokyo go for around ¥17000-19000 from special taxi ranks, but even so, if you're in a hurry, it's generally much faster and cheaper to take the Narita Express or the Skyliner, and change to a taxi upon arriving in Tokyo or Ueno. If you're not in a hurry, consider the airport limousine bus.
The easiest way to go between Narita City and Narita Airport is by using the Retrobus, the tourist bus service operated by Narita City. There are seven daily trips from JR Narita station, stopping at major locations within the city (including the International Cultural Center, AEON Narita Shopping Center and Shinsoji Temple), as well as both terminals of Narita Airport. Buses depart from Narita Airport Terminal 2 at 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 13:30, 15:00, 16:30 and 18:00; departures from Terminal 1 are 5 minutes later. The first three buses run directly from the airport to the Cultural Center and Shopping Center in about 20 minutes; the last bus at 18:00 only runs to JR Narita station.
It is also possible to go between the city and the airport by using the JR and Keisei local trains. These cost a bit less than ¥300 each way. The JR and Keisei stations in Narita are quite close to each other and a reasonably long walk from AEON Narita Shopping Center, the temple, et cetera.
There is also a slightly more complex local bus network run by Narita Kuko Kotsu which is mainly useful for accessing the Aviation Museum and industrial areas around the airport. Fares for this line range from ¥150 to ¥420 depending on distance.
If you are going into Narita, make sure to get some Japanese ¥ as most places will not take foreign currency. The 7-Eleven outside of the west gate of JR Narita station takes foreign cards 24 hours a day, and there is also a post office with ATM a few blocks down the street from the am/pm store. Also allow a bit of time for exchanging back leftover currency on departure as this is not something you can do at an ATM!
Not that much. There is a large Aeon shopping mall outside of town, which you can get to by bus, if you absolutely have to visit a branch of the sporting goods store "The Sports Authority." There are souvenir stores on the road leading to the temple, as well as a reasonably interesting "100 yen" store -- which actually sells items for ¥105 including consumption tax -- along the way. Still, everything should be cheaper than at the airport.
Fishing on tarmac
Narita has no coastline, but officially it's still Japan's eighth-busiest fish port due to the vast quantities of frozen tuna and other premium sushi fish imported by air.
Many shops on the main street sell unagi (うなぎ) broiled eel in a sweet sauce. It can be expensive for a standard plate (unaju (うな重), layered on rice, is ¥1500) but it is quite tasty. Look for the guys cleaning and chopping the eels right by the street-side.
Another great option is takoyaki (たこ焼き), or fried octopus balls. These are popular on the go treats, going for Yen 360 for ten small takoyaki. Order zenbu (全部) to get all the toppings. There is a stand right by the Keisei line train station's main exit (left as you are leaving). Look for the little cartoon octopus pulling a cart of fried balls.
Don't forget to get a hot and sweet dorayaki (どら焼き), or sweet red bean pancake, from a little shop across the main street.
Narita has a large number of hotels in the vicinity and they are often cheaper than hotels in central Tokyo thus it may be worthwhile staying out at the airport on your first/last night. If you want to get a cheap rate, however, do book in advance as rates and availability for walk up customers are highly variable.
If you have more than 8 hours to spare, you should seriously consider making the effort to visit Tokyo itself, although with limited time it really is best if you plan where you will go in advance of arriving at the airport.
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