From Narita Airport to (old) Tokyo with the Keisei Skyliner

It can sometimes be difficult to find your way around a new country. Even if transport is as well organized as it is in Japan, some tips and pointers in order to make your travel as smooth as possible can go a long way.

The area around Nippori Station (with Yanaka on the South side of the station) has become a major hub for traveler who come from Narita airport with the recent opening of new hotels around this area, and its direct and fast connection to Narita airport through the Keisei line.

This article explains the connection from Narita Airport to Nippori Station or Ueno Station, the quickest way to reach (old) Tokyo.

From your plane to the train

Follow the signs to the train station when you exit the baggage zone. The train station is on a lower level of the airport at about 5 minutes walk from the arrivals zone (for both terminal 1 and 2, a bit further for terminal 3).

There are two things you need to pay attention to:

  • Locating the right Train Station: there are two train companies that can bring you to Tokyo, JR with its Narita Express and Keisei with its Skyliner. To get to the areas I associate with old Tokyo, please choose the Keisei company (which is coincidentally the cheaper than JR).
  • Buying the ticket and choosing the right train: there are a number of different formulas available to get to Tokyo, I warmly recommend that you take the Skyliner train. The comfort it offers with nice seats and shorter travel time is well worth the extra charge.

The signs to the two different train companies in Narita Airport Terminal 1. On the left hand side is Keisei (for the Skyliner), on the right hand side JR (for the Narita Express)

Train type and FrequencyDuration to Nippori-UenoPrice (one-way)
Every 20-30 minutes
36-41 minutes (can be a little bit longer, depends on the time of day)JPY 2470. Discount tickets available for JPY 2200
Morning/Evening liner (Skyliner trains that stop at 5 stations along the line, making the trip longer).
Only selected trains morning and evening
72 minutes or moreJPY 1440
Sky Access Express*
Every 30 minutes (during the evening every hour)
57-71 minutes (depends on the time of day)JPY 1235
Limited Express*
Every 20-30 minutes
73 minutes or moreJPY 1025

* These are commuter trains, NOT RECOMMENDED to take these with (big) luggage. You should avoid taking any commuter train in Tokyo with luggage as these trains can get very crowded. If you want to take a commuter train, you should use one of the services to get your luggage delivered to where you are staying.

It is easiest (and actually quickest) to buy your ticket at the counter, no need to use the machine. It is also possible to already buy your ticket at the arrival lobby.

The ticket gate to go to the train (picture on the left), insert your ticket (as on the picture on the right) and go straight for the “skyliner platform”, the train will always depart from this dedicated platform.

On the train

Boarding the train is self-explanatory. Please note the following items:

  • board the train through your designated car, please note all seats are reserved
  • luggage can be stowed away at a compartment where you board the train
  • if you have smaller or mid-sized luggage, you can stow it above your seat or keep it with you as the seats are very wide
  • power sockets available in the train
  • free wifi is available, but requires pre-registration BEFORE YOU GET ON THE TRAIN. You need to present your passport at a Keisei ticket counter (Narita Airport Terminal 1 station / Narita Airport Terminal 2・3 station) and an ID and password will be then be provided to you. Only one ID and password are available per person.

On the train. On the right photo you see the luggage compartment, available at each car where you board the train. Pull the ever up to safely store your luggage. Secure storage is not available.

At Nippori/Ueno station

Nothing special for leaving the station, but do not forget that you need your ticket in order to exit through the ticket gates.

If you were wondering which exit to best take to get you to old Tokyo?

  • Nippori Station: Exit through the South exit, this will bring you right into Yanaka.
  • Keisei Ueno Station: Aim for the main exit, this is closest to the famed Ameya-yokocho.

The train on platform 5 at Narita Terminal 1


Isn’t it easier and cheaper to take the bus?
The cheap bus (Tokyo Shuttle) exclusively goes to Tokyo station, not to Nippori or Ueno. The Limousine bus services that goes to several Hotels in Tokyo is rather expensive (JPY 3100).

Is it best to reserve beforehand?
No, I took this train dozens of times and there was always plenty of space. However, there is a small discount available for foreigners (available through the Keisei website), which is well worth it if you buy a round-trip for which you will save JPY 540.

Can I buy my tickets with a credit card?
Yes, you can.

This page is by no means related to the Keisei company and I receive no remuneration or other benefits, I am just a very frequent customer.