Getting from Narita Airport to Nozawa Onsen
There are many different routes for getting from Narita Airport to Nozawa Onsen. If it is your first time to Nozawa Onsen, or you have a lot of luggage, then you may be better off using a direct service like the Nagano Snow Shuttle.
Below we summarize the easiest route to Nozawa from Narita Airport by Public Transport. If you’d like advice on other routes, please do not hesitate to send us an inquiry.
There are 2 train lines between Narita Airport and and Central Tokyo. The Narita Express, and the Keisei Skyliner. The Narita Express runs from Terminal 1, via terminal 2 to JR Tokyo Station. The Keisei Skyliner runs from Terminal 1 via Terminal 2 to Keisei Ueno Station, close to JR Ueno Station Tokyo.
The JR transfer is easier as you can buy all your tickets at Narita Airport, but the Keisei Line is actually a bit quicker.
Below we cover the transfer using the JR Narita Express and JR Hokuriku Shinkansen Bullet Train.
Terminal 1 (Narita Kuko Station)
The JR station is located in the basement of Terminal 1. The station is called “Narita Kuko” but the there are many English and Chinese signs that identify it as Terminal 1.
Terminal 2 (Kuko Daini Biru)
The JR station is located in the basement of Terminal 2. The station is called “Narita Daini Biru” but the there are many English and Chinese signs that identify it as Terminal 2.
There are not stations at terminal 3. The closest station is terminal 2. It is about 400m from terminal 3 to terminal 2. There is a well sign posted walkway (15 min walk), or you can take the free shuttle from terminal 3 to terminal 2 in about 3 minutes. The shuttle bus stop does not have a number but is easy to find if you take the escalator down to the bus top floor.
Buying a Ticket
All the JR ticket counters are red. You can buy a ticket from a machine, but most international visitors will find it easiest to go to the JR EAST Travel Service Center. These are set up for foreign visitors and staff speak English. Explain that you want to go to IIYAMA, and they will work out the next available times and transfers and issue your tickets.
Boarding the Train
The train tracks are on the level below the tickets sales and ticket gates. You will have several tickets in your hand, just put them all into the ticket machine together (not one at a time), and they will reappear part way down the ticket gate. Make sure you take your all your tickets.
Take the escalator down and locate your car number. Trains run on time so be on board with time to spare.
JR Narita Express
JR Narita Express is the flagship airport express train for JR East. It is a modern train with charging points in all seats and free Wifi on-board.
It usually operates as a 12 carriage train (actually 2 * 6 carriage trains that split at Tokyo Station).
Cars 1-5, and 7-11 are standard cars, while car 6 & 12 are Green Class (first class).
There is wheel chair access in cars 5 & 11
Car 1 is the front of the train when departing from Narita Airport.
All cars have 4 seats across, with an aisle in the middle.
Almost all Narita Express Trains head directly to Tokyo Station with no stops in between, but there is the occasional train that makes a brief stop at Chiba Station.
The trip from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station takes about 1 hour.
Tokyo Station is massive, and is the 3rd busiest station in Japanese with nearly 500,000 people daily.
On the main concourse level there are 10 platforms for commuter and express trains, and 10 platforms for Shinkansen Bullet trains.
There are also basement platforms (4) and a further 2 platforms for the JR Keio Line. Add in a couple of subway stations and you get the picture.
Rush hour here can be mayhem!
On arrival at Tokyo Station you will on basement level 5 (You arrive at Sobu Line platform 1 or 2). You need to get to the Hokuriku Shinkansen Bullet Train Platforms 20-23.
You need to go up several sets of elevators and follow the signs (the green ones as pictured on right) to the Shinkansen Bullet train platforms.
The Shinkansen have an extra set of ticket gates. You need to put your tickets into the machine before you can pass through (always remember to collect your tickets as they pop out part way through the gate).
Once through the gates you’ll see a lot of digital signs that flick between English and Japanese. They will show the Train Name, Departure Time and Platform Number. Locate your platform and take the escalator up.
Hokuriku Shinkansen via Nagano
There are several classes on the Hokuriku Shinkansen.
- Standard Class (reserved and non reserved*) – 5 seats across the row in a 3-2 configuration (Cars 1-10)
- Green Class (superior class) – 4 seats across the row in a 2-2 configuration (Car 11) – Green Class costs about 20% more than standard class
- Gran Class (first class) – 3 seats across the row in a 1-2 configuration (Car 12). Complementary food and beverage service (Kagayaki and Hakutaka trains only) – Gran Class costs about double of standard class
- reserved seat means you have an assigned seat / non-reserved means you can sit in any seat in a “non-reserved” carriage (first come first seated basis)
The only trains that stop at Iiyama Station are called “Hakutaka”. You cannot take the “Kagayaki” or the “Asama” trains to Iiyama.
You also need to check carefully if your train does make a stop at Iiyama, some Hakutaka trains do not.
Iiyama is the stop after Nagano.
The trip from Tokyo to Iiyama takes just under 2 hours.
Nozawa Liner Bus
From JR Iiyama Station the easiest option to get to Nozawa Onsen is the Nozawa Liner Bus.
The Nozawa Liner bus is operated by Nozawa Onsen Kotsu Ltd. The buses leave frequently from Iiyama Station (about 10 times per day) and take about 30 minutes to get to Nozawa Onsen.
Buses can get quite crowded during peak season so give yourself plenty of time to get to the bus stop and be among the first to board and guarantee yourself a seat.
Bus is first come, first seated and there are no reserved seats.
There is a vending machine close to the bus stop. As you exit the train station and head to bus stop 4, the vending machine is on the left. It only takes cash. If you don’t have cash then head to the Seven-Eleven close to the station (exit the station on the Chikumagawa Exit and turn right. Follow the train line south for 1 block and you see the seven-eleven). The Seven Eleven has an international ATM.
Boarding the Bus
The buses leave from bus stop #4.
Arrival in Nozawa Onsen
The Nozawa Onsen liner makes 4 stops in Nozawa Onsen. In order the stops are Maezaka, Nakao, Shinden and Nozawa Onsen Chuo Terminal (the central bus terminal). If you plan to walk to your accommodation then find out from your hosts which bus stop is closest.
If your accommodation does a pick up service, then call them when you leave Iiyama Station to let them know you are on your way.