Flying time to Japan is 14 hours from New York, 13 hours from Chicago, and 10 hours from Los Angeles. The trip east, because of tailwinds, can be about 45 minutes shorter, and the trip west that much longer because of headwinds.
Most major U.S. airports offer multiple direct flights to Tokyo each day.
Flights to Osaka or Nagoya usually involve a transfer, though some West Coast hubs like San Francisco and Los Angeles run direct flights. Because of the distance, fares to Japan tend to be expensive, usually around $1,200 for a seat in coach.
Both of Japan's major carriers have reduced prices for flights within the country. JAL offers the Oneworld Yokoso Visit Japan Fare; ANA has the Experience Japan Fare. These are real cost-savers if your trip includes destinations such as Kyushu or Hokkaido, though tickets must be booked outside Japan, and there are restrictions on use in peak times.
All domestic flights in Japan are no-smoking.
Airline Security Issues
Transportation Security Administration. The U.S. agency has answers for almost every travel-related security question that might come up. www.tsa.gov.
Air Pass Information
ANA Experience Japan Fare. 800/235–9262; www.ana.co.jp.
Oneworld Yokoso Visit Japan Fare. 800/525–3663; www.jal.co.jp/yokosojapan.
Ask the local tourist board about hotel and local transportation packages that include tickets to major museum exhibits or other special events.
The major gateway to Japan is Tokyo's Narita Airport (NRT), 80 km (50 miles) northeast of the city. The Haneda Airport International Terminal also has flights to major international cities and is only 20 km (12 miles) south of central Tokyo.
Most domestic flights to and from Tokyo are out of Haneda Airport.
There are three terminals at Narita Airport. Terminals 1 and 2 are for international flights, while the newly opened Terminal 3 is for flights on domestic and international low-cost carriers. Terminal 1 has two adjoining wings, north and south. When you arrive, your first task should be to convert your money into yen; you need it for transportation into Tokyo. In both wings, ATMs and money-exchange counters are in the wall between the customs inspection area and the arrival lobby. All three terminals have a Japan National Tourism Organization information center, where you can get free maps, brochures, and other visitor information. Ticket counters for airport limousine buses and express trains to Tokyo are directly across from the customs-area exits at Terminals 1 and 2.
If you have time to kill at Narita, take a local Keisei Line train into Narita town 15 minutes away, where a traditional shopping street and the beautiful Narita-san Shinsho Temple are a peaceful escape from airport noise.
Flying into Haneda provides visitors with quicker access to downtown Tokyo, which is a short monorail ride away. Stop by the currency exchange and Tourist Information Desk in the second-floor arrival lobby before taking a train into the city. There are also numerous jade-uniformed concierge staff on hand to help passengers with any questions.
Haneda Airport (HND). 03/5757–8111; www.haneda-airport.com.
Narita Airport (NRT). Chiba-ken, 282-0004. 0476/34–8000; www.narita-airport.jp.
Known as "The Gateway to Japan," Narita is about 90 minutes—dependent on city traffic—by taxi or bus from central Tokyo. The Keisei Skyliner and Japan Railways NEX are the easiest ways to get into the city.
Directly across from the customs-area exits at both terminals are the ticket counters for buses to Tokyo. Buses leave from platforms just outside terminal exits, exactly on schedule; the departure time is on the ticket. The Airport Limousine has shuttle-bus service from Narita to Tokyo starting at ¥2,900. Cheaper options include The Access Narita (¥1,000) and Tokyo Shuttle (¥900).
Japan Railways trains stop at Narita Airport Terminals 1 and 2. The fastest and most comfortable is the Narita Limited Express (NEX). Trains from the airport go directly to the central Tokyo Station in just about an hour, then continue to Yokohama and Ofuna. Daily departures begin at 7:44 am; the last train is at 9:44 pm. In addition to regular seats, there is a first-class Green Car and private four-person compartments. All seats are reserved, and you need to reserve one for yourself in advance, as this train fills quickly.
The Keisei Skyliner train runs every 20–30 minutes between the airport terminals and Keisei-Ueno Station. The trip takes around 40 minutes. The first Skyliner leaves Narita for Ueno at 7:28 am, the last at 10:30 pm. From Ueno to Narita the first Skyliner is at 5:58 am, the last at 6:20 pm. Keisei’s slightly slower Access Express service also runs between Narita and Keisei-Ueno. If you are arriving with a Japan Rail Pass and staying in Tokyo for a few days, it is best to pay for the transfer into the city and wait to activate the rail pass for travel beyond Tokyo.
The Access Narita. accessnarita.jp.
Airport Limousine. 03/3665–7232; www.limousinebus.co.jp.
Japan Railways. 050/2016–1603; www.jreast.co.jp/e.
Keisei Railway. 03/3831–0131; 0476/32–8505; www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/skyliner/us.
Tokyo Shuttle. www.keiseibus.co.jp/en/kousoku/nrt16.html.
Transfers Between Airports
Transfer between Narita and Haneda, the international and domestic airports, is easiest by the Airport Limousine Bus, which should take 75 minutes and costs ¥3,000. The Keisei Access Express also runs between the two airports but requires one transfer at Aoto Station.
Airport Limousine. 03/3665–7232; www.limousinebus.co.jp.
Japan Airlines (JAL), United Airlines American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and All Nippon Airways (ANA) link North American cities with Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports. Most of these airlines also fly in and out of Japan's two other international airports, Kansai International Airport, located south of Osaka and Centrair, near Nagoya.
All Nippon Airways. 800/235–9262; 03/6741–1120; 03/3239–0298; www.ana.co.jp.
American Airlines. 800/433–7300; 03/3298–7677; www.aa.com.
Delta Airlines. 800/241–4141; 0570/077–733; www.delta.com.
Japan Airlines. 800/525–3663; 03/6733–3062; www.jal.co.jp/en.
United Airlines. 800/864–8331; 03/6732–5011; www.united.com.