- 1 Transport
- 2 Storage
- 3 Accommodation
- 4 Resources
Getting to Tokyo
There are 4 quick ways to get to Tokyo from Narita Airport (60km away):
- Japan Rail – Narita Express (NEX) (2940yen, 56min, Tokyo Station or Shinjuku or Shinagawa)
- Keisei Skyliner (1920yen, 59min), or the Keisei limited express (1000yen, 71min, Nippori Station)
- Airport Limousine Bus (3000yen, 85min, various hotels around Tokyo or TCAT)
- Taxi (about 35,000, 85min)
There are also some discount deals:
- NEX (Narita Express) Suica deal. Costs 3500yen, includes Narita Airport - Tokyo x1, plus a Suica(electronic card) with 1500yen on it. You can use the Suica on ALL JR & subway trains in the Tokyo area(and buses). 500yen will be returned to you when you get the card deposit back(or keep until the next trip)
- Keisei Skyliner deal, that includes Narita Airport - Tokyo (Ueno) + a two day Tokyo Metro Subway pass = 2480 yen, or a one day Tokyo Metro Subway pass = 2100 yen
If you have a JR Rail pass or JR flexi 4 day and intend to go straight to Hakuba, Shiga Kogen, Nozawa Onsen, Naeba, Kagura the same day, then use the Narita Express. If you want a cheap, but still fast and convenient option, then use the Keisei Skyliner or the Keisei limited express. If you want a convenient trip with lots of gear, straight to your hotel, then use the Airport Limousine Bus. If you’re made of money, I suppose you could try taxi.
If needing a stopover in or near Narita check out this Tokyo Narita Map - http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=105247672361917185150.0004844869db5dda3b77d&z=12
There is a courier service available at Narita airport called Yamato Express.Quite easy to find them.
They also can be found all over the place and use convenience stores as agents.
Will send on your luggage/skis for a small fee. Genrally around 2500 yen will get your ski's up to Niseko. This price works out cheaper than using "luggage left" services or lockers at rail stations.
Keep in mind, most locals send on their luggage when holidaying, so the service is quite reliable.
Transporting packages around the country
Packages can be sent to pretty much any place in Japan using Takkyubin or Takuhaibin. There is usually no need to even call or go to a service centre. Many convenience stores offer this service and hotels will arrange this for you. Just look for the Takkyubin sign at convenience stores.
Here are some typical prices, dependent on size and weight:
- Suitcase (80 cm x 40 cm x 30cm, less than 25 kg):
- From Tokyo to Hakuba: 1900 Yen
- From Tokyo to Hokkaido: 2200 Yen
- Tokyo to Narita Airport: 2400 Yen
Delivery companies at Narita Airport include Yamato(, Fukuyama & KTC/Sagawa/Seibu.
Sending Packages from Japan to Australia
Depending on what it is and how big, there are various ways.
- Japan Post. Maximum length is 100cm. e.g. 7kg 13,150yen
- EMS. This is the courier service of Japan Post. Maximum length 150cm. e.g. 7kg 10,700yen
- Nippon Express(Pelican Jetpak). Maximum size: Measure no more than 200cm on any side (or more than 300cm in total on all three sides). e.g. 7kg 20,000yen
Trains around Tokyo.
here are four different types of train systems around Tokyo.
- Japan Rail
- Tokyo Metro Subway
- Toei Subway
- Various private railways.
Japan Rail has the loop Yamanote line (Green stripe), which takes you around the central circle of Tokyo. The Chuo/Sobu (Yellow) and Chuo Rapid (Orange) lines cut across the middle of this loop. If you’re mainly using JR, it pays to stay somewhere close to these lines. Various other lines skirt the Yamanote line away from central Tokyo: Keihin Tohoku - Blue, Yokosuka - dark blue, Tokaido – orange/green, etc. The minimum charge is 130yen(1-2 stations). You can buy a Tokyo all day ticket for 730yen. JR is very well sign-posted in English. Generally, you will get a better “lay of the land” with JR, because it is above ground. Tokyo Station JR Travel Centre is located just south of the Yaesu JR ticket gate exit(outside the gate). You can do the booking of tickets, reserved seats, etc, and exchange your JR Rail pass voucher there. They speak English and are very helpful. Tokyo JR rail map: http://www.jref.com/images/content/TokyoJRMap.gif
Tokyo Metro Subway and Toei Subway use the same subway map, and although they interconnect, they use a separate ticket system. If you get a Tokyo Metro map (at subway stations), you can see the difference at the bottom right. The minimum on Tokyo Metro is 160yen, and 170yen for Toei Subway. Be careful how you use these two systems, because if you intend to use the connections between the two, you may end up paying 330yen for travelling only two stops.(about $3.65) You can buy a combined JR/Subway pass for 1580yen(Called “Tokyo Free ticket”), and you can buy an all day subway pass(Metro & Toei) for around 1000yen. Mostly the Subways have English signs, but sometimes these mysteriously disappear!!! Most of the ticket price boards in the subways are only in Japanese. You need to concentrate sometimes, to follow the directions to other subway lines, as it’s sometimes tricky to tell the difference between a “straight ahead” arrow being straight ahead or straight up the stairs!!!! The Tokyo Metro is worse than the Toei Subway in this respect. The Toei subway often as coloured lines to follow. Subway map: http://www.tokyometro.jp/global/en/service/pdf/routemap_en.pdf
If you are having trouble figuring out the fares, don’t panic. Just buy 150yen tickets (or 160-170 in the subways), and when you get to the other end, just put it in the “Fare Adjustment” machine, and it will tell you how much extra you need to pay. All of the train stations have automated in and out ticket gates, where you feed the tickets in. As you go in, don’t forget to grab the validated ticket!!! When you go out, it just gobbles the ticket.
Even easier if you are staying for more than a day or two is to buy an IC card such as a Suica or Pasmo. These are "stored value" proximity cards which you touch to the barriers when you enter and leave a station and they automatically calculate and deduct the fare from your balance. If you don't have enough value left you can "top up" the fare using the Fare Adjustment machines. Suica cards can be used on virtually all public transport in the greater Tokyo metro area, as well as on JR lines in other parts of the country. They can also be used to buy items from some vending machines and railway shops. At the end of your trip if you return your Suica you get most of your outstanding balance refunded; otherwise keep it for your next trip. If you are flying into Narita consider purchasing the Suica & Narita Express combined ticket which gives you a substantial saving on the express train fare from the airport. See details here.
A guide to Pasmo cards is available here.
A map showing the extent of the Suica/Pasmo network in Tokyo is available here.
There are various private trains (e.g. Monorail, Keisei, Keikyu line, etc), which can often be more expensive than the other trains. These generally don’t link in with any other tickets (although you can use IC cards).
Sometimes the trains (any trains) will have a red sign next to the destination. On some subway trains it is in English. It means it is “Kaisoku” or express train. If you’re only going a few stations, it’s probably best just to avoid these, as they don’t stop at all stations, and you might end up having to get off and back track.
The Hyperdia site is good for planning rail trips: http://grace.hyperdia.com/cgi-english/hyperd01.cgi
Selecting the right ticket
JR Rail Pass This is a consecutive day pass which can only be bought outside of Japan, only available to non-resident foreigners. Firstly, you must validate the pass in Japan, within 3 months of buying the exchange order here in Australia (or other country). You redeem the voucher, for which you will get the JR Rail Pass in Japan. A 7 day pass costs 28,300yen (about $320). This pass includes all JR trains except the Nozomi Shinkansen, which is the fastest (Shinkansen = Bullet Train). However this is no disadvantage, as from Tokyo to Kyoto, the difference between Nozomi and Hikari is small. e.g. 513km, 2 hours 20min for Nozomi, and 2hours 38min for Hikari. The Kodama Shinkansen stops at MOST stations so takes much longer. Even with a JR Rail Pass, it's best to reserve seats on express trains including Shinkansen, as it's free to do so.
A JR Rail Pass doesn't make much sense if you're travelling from Narita-Tokyo-Hakuba and back, as this will only cost 21,360 yen (by the most expensive way: Narita express & Shinkansen), and you will only travel two days out of 7. You can otherwise get individual tickets instead. However, this means organising each ticket.
For a Narita to Hakuba return, a JR East 4-day flexible ticket is good value if you plan to do no more travelling than Narita-Tokyo-Hakuba, even if you only use 2 days. It allows you to travel anywhere (Tokyo and east) on 4 non consecutive days (unlimited travel per day), valid for one month. Cost is 20,000yen, and can be bought inside or outside of Japan, only available to non-resident foreigners.
You can exchange the JR Rail Pass at certain larger stations in Japan (Including Narita airport & Tokyo see list: http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en009.html ), but you can choose a different day for it to start. e.g. You can exchange the exchange order for the JR Rail Pass on 1st Feb, but select a validation date of, say, 5th Feb. Make sure you mention that, when you exchange it.
Tips for travellers
It is a good idea to carry a small printed english version of subway / rail map for those occasion when there isn't an english version at the station. These are readily available at hotels, information centres.
When looking for the train line for your destination also note the end station in the direction you are heading on that line so you get the correct platform.
If you just miss a subway, don't worry, another one will be along in a couple of minutes unless it is the last one. They generally close around midnight.
The system in Osaka is very similar. If you have a few days in the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Himeji) you can get a JR East Kansai pass for local trains in that area. From memory a 4 day pass was $66.
There are lockers at practically every major railway station, but the biggest are only big enough for a medium/large suitcase. I’ve seen large cases that just don’t fit. At Tokyo Station if you head down the stairs at the JR Yaesu Central UNDERGROUND exit, just to the left is a "Cloak Room". This is INSIDE the JR ticket gates. They can hold your baggage there for 500yen an item. However, it is only open from 10am - 6pm, and you MUST collect it the same day. There is also a "Parcel Storage" place, but it is hard to find. It's located OUTSIDE the station about 50m south of the Yaesu South exit from the station. You have to cross a truck terminal area, and it is located just the other side of the lost property, so it's easiest to follow those signs the lost property signs(and even then it’s hard to find!!!).
Many places in Japan only cater for a maximum of 2 or 3 in a room so finding "family" rooms can be a challenge at times. Some options where you can get family rooms include:
- Asia Centre of Japan - located in the centre of metropolitan Tokyo, between Aoyama and Akasaka Area
- Blue Wave Inn Asakusa - located in the heart of Asakusa
- Takanawa Tobu - located 5 minutes' walk away from JR Shinagawa station
- Jimbocho Sakura Hotel - more budget
- Holiday Inn Tobu
- Radisson Hotel Narita