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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in narita
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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.
Narita Airport and Japan Tourism are conducting trial tours for passengers with layovers at Narita Airport (see "Get Out").
Narita Airport (http://www.narita-airport.or.jp/airport_e) (???? Narita-k?k?, NRT), inconveniently 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) and not necessarily the best introduction to Japan. Security is rather heavy, especially when coming in, due to continuing controversy over land expropriated for the airport.
The airport has two terminals, Terminal 1 for major foreign airlines (e.g. United, British Airways) and Terminal 2 for Japanese airlines and smaller foreign airlines. Trains connect directly to both and there is also a free shuttle bus between them. There are Citibank (http://www.narita-airport.or.jp/airport_e/guide/service/index.html) cash machines that accept international ATM/cr cards once you leave customs on the arrivals floor of both terminals.
There are many ways to travel between Narita Airport and central Tokyo. For the first-time visitor, especially if jet-lagged or laden with luggage, almost certainly the easiest option is the Limousine Bus direct to your 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.
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: 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) 1 (http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex/index.html) 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 run every half-hour during peak hours, hourly off-peak. As of December 2005, smoking is not allowed on Narita Express trains.
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. If you opt for this, be sure to confirm this when buying your ticket. Reservations are required but can be purchased just before boarding if there is space (and there usually is).
JR also operates Rapid trains on the Sobu/Narita line, leaving once per hour. 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 Nartia 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 (??) line has trains to central Tokyo and a few that go directly to Haneda airport.
Keisei's Skyliner 2 (http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/keisei_us/top.html) with reserved seats costs ¥1920 and goes directly from Narita Airport to Ueno or Nippori in one hour. 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 budget option is the limited express Keisei train, which costs ¥1000 to go to Ueno and Nippori. The limited express takes about 15 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 the Passnet 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. One early morning train even goes all the way to Haneda Airport. 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.
In 2010, the Narita Rapid Railway service is scheduled begin operation, following new, dedicated rail lines that will take a more direct route to Tokyo. All Skyliner trains from Keisei Ueno and Nippori will be transfered to this new line. At constant speeds of between 80 and 95 miles per hour, the travel time to and from the airport will be reduced sharply, to just 36 minutes between Nippori and Airport Terminal 2. There is a provision which would eventually allow for these trains to run straight to Tokyo station via a new direct spur from the Toei Asakusa Line.
There is also a network of Airport Limousine (http://www.limousinebus.co.jp/e/) shuttle buses that serve most major hubs within Tokyo, stopping at major hotels, as well as some suburbs. Prices are comparable to the express train services, 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.
A taxi to central Tokyo is extremely expensive, on the order of ¥30000 (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. 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.
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.