DisclaimerJapan is one of my very favorite destinations. Yet no matter how many times I ago, there's a ton a research I feel to do to get the most out of my trip. These notes are here mainly for me to share with people I know, but you can use them if they make sense for you too.
From Narita to Tokyo (and back)
If you fly to Japan, chances are you will be flying into Narita Airport (NRT), probably Terminal 2. IF someone is not picking you up, you are getting out of there by bus, train, taxi, or rental car. I prefer the train.
Taking the Train out of Narita
Taking the train to Tokyo Station is going to cost you typically ¥2940 (~$30). I'm very impressed that the price has not changed for the 5 years I took my first ride on it (year 2008). This is the N'EX (Narita Express). However, there's a much better deal than the $30 for foreigners. You can get a round trip ticket AND a ¥2,000 Suica card for only ¥5500 from the JR East Travel Service Center at the airport.
Sweet Suica Deal
A ¥2,000 Suica card, what's that? It's what you will use to take public transportation in and around Tokyo. You really want this, you are getting one for free in addition to getting the discounted round trip ticket. Only foreigners get this courtesy. I'll talk this more a bit later?
The Other Deal
An alternative deal, if you are going to be visiting different cities frequently during your trip, is the Japan Rail Pass. For between ~$300 for one week to ~$600 for 3 weeks, you get unlimited rides on the Japan Rail lines. This can be a sweet deal, considering a one-way trip to somewhere like Kobe (for that yummy steak) can run ~$125 just one way, a trip between a few cities can easily make the price worth it. You can even use the pass to get a ticket out of Narita with the N'EX.
One very important note about the JR Pass is that it is only for JR operated lines. These lines usually run between cities, though Tokyo has one line, the JR Yamanote Line, that runs inside Tokyo. However, when you are in Tokyo, you will very likely be using the Tokyo Metro than you would the JR Yamanote Line. More on that later?
Last Train of the Day
The last express train out of Narita is at 10:42pm. The last possible train ride out of Narita is at 11:06pm. Don't believe me? Check Hyperdia, a great website to see the Japan Rail train schedule. If your flight arrives too late and you don't feel like waiting until 5:45am for the first train, you'll need to take something else out of Narita.
Taking Something Else out of Narita
I've never taking a bus, a taxi, or rented a car. But I can tell you what I do know about them.
Buses are not a bad option. If you are going to Tokyo, you might take Airport Limousine Bus. It should run you ¥3000 (~$30) per adult and ¥1500 (~$15) for children cash. Foreigners can get something called a FIT coupon, which they have to buy before they go to Japan at a vendor in their country (here's the list of vendors). I suppose a FIT coupon carries some benefit, but short of calling a vendor, I have no idea what that is.
Taxis are pricey. We are talking around ¥20,000 (~$200) or more. But like NYC, you can take a fixed fare taxi, which has a fixed price depending on the area to which you are going. It might be your only way out of Narita after the trains and busses are gone for the night.