Narita Express gets you to Tokyo station fast and inexpensively, unless your destination is close to Ueno station
Narita Express (JR NEX) is the fastest and most convenient way to travel from Narita (T1 or T2/3) and Tokyo station. It takes 50min from T2 to Tokyo station (3min more from T1). Depending on your destination, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku can also be your drop off point.
For the return trip to Narita, NEX stops in T2 first and then subsequently T1. For those traveling to T3, add about 15 min walk or 10min free shuttle from T2. In Tokyo NEX station, NEX train and Rapid train shares the platform so look for the carriage number of your train. NEX trains arrive to the platform in two batches: cars 7 to 12 first and the a couple of minutes later 1 to 6. If your car is between 1 to 6, don’t panic and run after the wrong train. Stay calm and wait for yours.
My flight from Narita usually leave late afternoon so I check out from the hotel, head to Tokyo station for a sashimi don and Yebisu Premium Malt in one of the upscale malls in Tokyo station before I get on NEX. My favorites are in the underground hallway between KITTE and TOKIA buildings. I store my stuff in one of the nearby lockers so I can roam around free. Finding an available locker is near impossible at Tokyo station so trick is to look for available ones on the less crowded level B4 of Marunouchi line Tokyo Station Central and South exits (just above NEX platforms on B5). For those arriving at Tokyo station using Marunouchi line metro on B1, this should be easy to find.
At the time of writing, NEX return ticket was discounted to JPY 4,020, from full fare 6,040. JR Rapid Train is cheaper (at 1,320 one way) than Limited Express (NEX) but Rapid Train looks like normal metro with both sitting and standing room.
Keisei Skyliner is another great option to travel into Tokyo if your destination is close to Ueno station. Travel time is 40min. At the time of writing Keisei Skyliner had one way into Ueno Station plus 1, 2, 3 day unlimited Tokyo metro ticket packages. My Skyliner one way plus 3D unlimited Tokyo metro package costed JPY 3,500. They have return trip plus metro packages but the discount pricing didn’t make much sense. When considering these ticket packages, note that Tokyo metro one-day open ticket is 600, a great deal if you’re planning to use four or more trips on metro (typical metro fare is 170).
Ueno Skyliner station is some walking distance from Ueno metro station so for those wanting to transfer should consider this walk.