TO / FROM THE AIRPORT
The best choice for transportation into the city. Buses depart hourly from a stand directly outside the Arrivals lobby and make drop-offs at major hotels. Look for the counter as you exit Immigration. From the airport to the central Shibuya area takes about 85 minutes, to the Shinjuku Station transportation hub takes around 100 minutes. $26 for a one-way ticket on both routes.
Japan Rail (JR) Narita Express (N'EX)
Trains run every hour (every half hour during peak times) between the airport station just below the Arrivals lobby and the city's main stations: Tokyo Station (one hour, $25 each way) and Shinjuku (80 mins., $27 each way). Purchase tickets at the airport's JR Reservations Office or from vending machines at the stations.
Keisei Skyliner Train
A good choice if you're staying in Asakusa, but not if your hotel is in the more westernized Shinjuku or Shibuya neighborhoods. Purchase tickets at stations or through the Keisei Ueno information office. The plush trains depart every 40 minutes for the central Ueno Station, $17 each way for the hour-long ride.
Keisi Limited Express Bus
Eleven routes connect Narita and major suburban cities in and around Tokyo, including Kichijyoji, Makuhari, Kasai, and Yokohama. Departing times and fares vary depending on the destination. Rides into Tokyo take one hour. Purchase tickets at stations. From $9.50.
Haneda Monorail tokyo-airport-bldg.co.jp
Haneda is Tokyo's central domestic airport, with few inter-national flights, mostly to/from Asian destinations. If you arrive here, the smartest transportation option into the city is the monorail. Consult the map on the Haneda Airport website for details. Purchase monorail tickets from machines at airport stations. From $4 each way.
Japan Rail (JR) Lines
The Yamanote Line, which encircles the city, and the Chuo Line, which bisects Tokyo, are cheap and convenient, and they connect many places worth visiting. Other lines are more circuitous, and more expensive. Trains arrive and depart every few minutes 5 a.m.--1 a.m. Note: Try to avoid the infamous Tokyo morning rush (7:30 a.m.--9:30 a.m.). Purchase tickets from vending machines. From $1.15/ride, depending on the distance.
The Metro is not as confusing as its colorful map looks. Depending on where you want to go, it can be a great way to get around areas not covered by the nicer JR Lines. Trains run every few minutes 5 a.m.--midnight. From $1.50/ride.
Pick up the handy free Tokyo Metro Guide in stations. It lists major landmarks and sights and their corresponding metro stations. You don't want to explore Tokyo without it.
Toei Subway Lines
In addition to Tokyo Metro lines, Tokyo has four city-operated Toei subway lines--Asakusa, Mita, Shinjuku, and Oedo. You can transfer to and from JR and Metro lines at many stations, but you'll need to pay separate fares. If you know you'll be transferring to or from another transit line, you can purchase a joint ticket at the station where you get on. From $1.50/ride.
Special value tickets
Tokyo Metro's One-Day Open Ticket allows unlimited travel in a 24-hour period. The one-day JR Tokunai Pass is valid for travel on all JR city lines. Both 24-hour passes can be purchased at any station from the cash-only ticket machines. Around $6.25 for a One-Day Open Ticket, $6.50 for a JR Tokunai Pass.
Available for Tokyo Metro and Toei subway lines, as well as several other local trains and buses. They won't save you money, but they'll save you time lining up at cash-only ticket machines. As you enter and exit stations, fares are automatically calculated and deducted from the card. Available in 1,000 yen ($8.75), 3,000 yen ($26.25), and 5,000 yen ($43.75) increments.