Tokyo – From the Airport
Tokyo can be an overwhelming city to arrive in. Even after a few trips, Im often impressed with how bustling the airport can be but its not that hard to navigate.
First off, you will want to exchange money. This is easily done at the airport, there are a few exchanges in the arrival hall after you exit customs. I personally like to use ATM machines because it reduces the amount of cash I travel with. The ATM machines are also in the arrival hall but are off to the sides. It may take a moment to locate them but they are very useful. They support many of the US networks (Star, Cirus, etc) so you will probably have no problems finding a machine to use as there are 3-4 different companies. Look for the ENGLISH button, it may help navigate the systems. Also, if one machine doesn`t work, try another.
I use my bank ATM card but American Express, Visa, MC all work as well.
Once you have money, head over to the transportation desk. Here you will have a few options but the more common and inexpensive are the Narita Express and the Limosine Bus.
The Narita Express
The Narita Express is a train that goes to the major train stations around Tokyo and is probably the quickest method. You should know which one is closest to your hotel but if you dont then ask the agent. For about 3130Yen ($30) and you will be assigned a seat so pay attention to the car and seat numbers. Also, make sure you get on the correct train, they leave about every 30 minutes and sometimes you get down to the platform before the previous train leaves.
It was suggested that buying a ticket for the Green Car (the Japanesse version of 1st class) is well worth the extra 1000Yen ($10) so I`ll try that next time.
The train will take about 1-1.5 hours to get to your station.
The downside of the train is that you still need to navigate to your hotel from the train station. This can sometimes be a challenge. On this trip I came into Shinjuko station which is extreemly busy and complicated. I was told it has over 120 exits and I believe it! If you arrive on a train station I suggest grabbing a cab to the hotel from there because you will likely be very tired and overwhelmed at this point.
The bus is nice because it will take you to the major hotels in the city. I havent tried it with a smaller hotel but my guess is that it will deliver you there as well if you are not far off their main routes. The cost of the bus is similar to the train but can be little slower depending on traffic. It will take about 2 hours to get to your hotel from the airport. If you have a lot of luggage then take the bus! You wont want to lug stuff through a busy train station. This is very simple option since the bus will likely pick you up at your hotel…easy!
Unless you have money to burn, avoid this option! The airport is many many miles outside the city and taxis in Japan are not cheap.