Narita Express Review – Boarding the N’EX Train for the First Time

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Many budget airlines and international flag carriers arrive in Tokyo via Narita Airport. Although Haneda Airport is much closer to central Tokyo, flights that arrive in Narita are much cheaper (especially promo fares). After a “long” flight (depending on where you come from), your next aim is to get to your Tokyo accommodation the fastest way possible.

high speed train, train tracks, train platform

That’s when Narita Express (N’EX) comes into the picture. It’s no surprise that trains in Japan are one of the country’s pride and glory. When it comes to efficient train transportation, N’EX definitely sets an example. As I boarded the N’EX train for the first time, I found noteworthy pros and cons during my trip which I think will help you decide when taking a transport to Tokyo.


1. Ticket price is affordable for solo, couple, or small group travelers.

Can you imagine taking a cab that will run at least 60km from Narita to central Tokyo? Spending at least ¥10,000 one-way is too much for a budget traveler. For N’EX, an ordinary class ticket will only cost ¥3,020 up to Tokyo station (¥4,560 for first class) and will provide you 30% discount for round trip tickets (¥4,000 instead of ¥6,040).
ticket fare table
N'EX ticket fares from Narita Airport. Image from
train image, 33% off on round trip ticket
N'EX round trip ticket discount. Image from
2. Narita Express provides the quickest way to downtown Tokyo.

If you’re arriving in Japan during the day, chances are you’ll face traffic on the road. N’EX, however, gets you to your destination for at least 53 minutes. It’s that fast. With a few stops on stations and no traffic (and traffic lights) to deal with, there’s no hassle in terms of road congestion. Airport limousines (buses) cost a little more than N’EX, but they take an average of 2 hours before arriving at central Tokyo.

3. Cars and seat numbers are easy to locate.

All N’EX tickets require seat reservation, so you’re sure you’re getting a seat upon purchase. Unlike in some European trains where you get easily confused with cars and seating arrangement, Narita Express provides the convenience of getting on board the right car at the starting platform. Just line up where your car number is indicated on the floor placard and you won’t get lost. Once you enter the assigned car, the seat numbers are written on both left and right sides of the train interior.

4. Luggage racks are available.

At the end of each car are dedicated luggage storage racks. If you have a big luggage, you can place it here to keep your seats spacious. Your belongings are safe in the storage provided, but to make you feel more at ease, the luggage storage has built-in lock combinations to keep your baggage safe.

luggage storage in train
luggage storage in train

5. Seats are spacious, even on ordinary cars.

Once you find your seats, you’ll notice how spacious N’EX is. Even on ordinary cars, there’s ample space to stretch your legs or place your hand-carry in front of you. Another option is to place your hand-carry on the overhead racks above you. Some can even fit small and medium size luggage without any problem. Seats can be reclined, plus there are tray tables and bottle holders available. I just didn’t find a power outlet to charge my phone (if you know where it’s located on the ordinary car, please leave me a comment below).

Ordinary cars have fabric seats while green cars (first-class) have leather upholstery.

train seats
train tray table
train seats, two ladies smiling, luggage on overhead rack
Ordinary seats on the Narita Express. 
6. The train has free Wi-Fi.

All throughout the journey, Narita Express provides free and fast Wi-Fi, with exceptions of passing through tunnels. All you need to do is find the JR network and connect.

wi-fi information on sticker

7. The train is well-maintained.

Narita Express is clean and the feel of the train looks brand new. You’re not only paying for the actual transport service, but also for the convenience. I didn’t find any garbage on the floor or any dirt on the seats.

train glass door, group of people looking

8. The restroom is clean and huge.

I was seated at car no. 11 and the nearest restroom was at the beginning of car no. 12 (for first class seats). The Western-style restroom was huge and it was big enough to accommodate passengers on a wheelchair. The doors open, close and lock with a push of a button. Braille signs are also provided. Enough toilet paper and paper towels were available and the floor was kept dry. There’s a child seat, diaper changing station, sink with running water and liquid soap, as well as safety handles.

bathroom sink and mirror
restroom toilet inside the train
large train restroom with toilet, child seat, and full length mirror
panoramic view of restroom

9. Flat-screen monitors in cars indicate schedule and next station.

There are three sets of flat-screen monitors (front, middle, and rear) inside car no. 11. I believe each car has the same amount of monitors that show the next station, estimated time of arrival, the Narita Express route, and reminders written in Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese.

train monitors

10. N’EX is the most comfortable train ride I’ve ever experienced.

Japan’s bullet trains are probably one of the most convenient trains I boarded during my years of travel in 28 different countries. By far, N’EX topped the list when it comes to the most comfortable and smoothest ride. You will actually feel the difference, barely noticing any bumps along the train tracks. It is pretty quiet, too inside the train so if you feel very tired after a long flight, you can easily slip into slumber. Just make sure to set an alarm, at least 10 minutes before the intended arrival at the station. It’s recommended that you take out your luggage at the storage and wait at the exit doors before stopping at your station.

11. Narita Express runs almost every 30 minutes.

N’EX begins its service from Narita Airport Terminal 1 at 7:44 AM and arrives at Tokyo station at 9:08 AM (N’EX 2 train). There are 27 trains that run from the airport to Tokyo station (all even numbers). The last train (N’EX 54) that departs at Terminal 1 leaves at 9:44 PM, arriving at Tokyo station at 10:41 PM.

From Tokyo station, the first departing train (N’EX 1) begins its service at 6:18 AM and arrives at Narita Airport Terminal 2 at 7:15 AM, and at Terminal 1 at 7:18 AM. There are also 27 trains that service Tokyo station to the airport (all odd numbers). The last train (N’EX 53) leaves Tokyo at 8:03 PM and arrives at Terminal 1 at 9:13 PM (schedule as of May 2016 found here).

12. N’EX provides more stops in downtown Tokyo.

N’EX’s main competitor when it comes to direct service from Narita Airport to downtown Tokyo is Keisei Skyliner. It is cheaper by a few hundreds. However, the last stop at downtown Tokyo is only at Ueno. If you’re accommodation is near Tokyo or hubs such as Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro or Yokohama, Narita Express is your best option. These hubs are gateways to other central Tokyo areas and will only take lesser transfers on the train or subway. For example, we got off at Shibuya station from the N’EX train. We walked towards Shibuya subway station via the Ginza Line, transferred to Chiyoda Line via Omote-sando station, and reached Akasaka on the second stop. The entire subway journey was only 14 minutes and we only had one train transfer in the subway.
train map from narita airport
Train Route Diagram. Image from


1. You need to drag your luggage on your own.

If you’re taking the N’EX train, I suggest to keep your belongings at a minimum. One hand-carry (preferably a backpack) and one luggage is enough. I don’t remember any train conductor or attendant that will help you drag your luggage inside the train. In addition, you have to be quick in entering the train and putting your luggage at the storage because N’EX leaves on time. The same goes when you have to get off the train.

2. You need to go back to the terminal when you forget the lock code.

Cable locks are available in each slot at the luggage storage. If you use these locks and forgot the lock combination you set, you have to go back all the way to Narita Airport Terminal 1 to retrieve your luggage. I personally didn’t use these cable locks since I can see the storage from my seat. I didn’t have to worry about other passengers stealing my belongings. If you happen to store your luggage at a different car, remember your lock code. I believe you have to buy another ticket going back to Terminal 1 when that happens.

3. Narita Express does not operate 24/7.

Unfortunately, N’EX trains don’t run 24 hours a day. If you arrive at Narita Airport later than 9:44 PM, you won’t be able to catch the last train. If your departing flight at Narita is at 8:30 AM or earlier, chances are you can board the earliest N’EX train, but will not have enough time to catch your plane due to check-in procedures and immigration. So if you’re flying out of Japan via Narita, you either book airport transfers or a taxi, or plan your departure time alongside the Narita Express timetable.

Price: ¥3,020 to Tokyo on ordinary cars; ¥4,000 round trip ticket
Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. The contents of this entry are purely my opinion and 100% honest based on my travel experience.

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