In the small residential town of Suitengumae in east Tokyo is the Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT). One of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets, this terminal has airport bus rides for as little as 900¥ (about $9). You’ll want to go in to their office and buy a ticket a few days in advance. While the bus rides to the airports take longer than trains such as N’EX or Keisei Skyliner, they are about 1/2 to 1/3 the cost. And they’re much easier, quiter, and enjoyable than the hectic rush of trains.
For directions on how to get here, see our Suitengumae Post. The station is just a mile to the east of Tokyo Station and is easy to walk, bike, or train to.
You can walk from Tokyo Station to T-CAT in about 30 minutes.
The station sits underneath a huge road expressway interchange. There are convenience stores on both sides of the street, as well as a Doutour café. There is also a paid bike parking lot just to the north at the Royal Park Hotel. The lot is part of the hotel but it’s outside on the sidewalk so anyone can use it.
So if you’re looking for a dirt-cheap alternative to a train to the airport, T-CAT may fit the bill.
The huge freeway interchange. Note the Doutour café on the right.
Suitengumae (or simply “Suitengu“) is a small residential town just to the northeast of Tokyo Station. You can get here by taking the Metro Hanzomon subway line, or by walking or cycling. The walk is not far – about 2-ish miles. To walk or cycle from Tokyo Station, exit on the Yaesu (east) side of the station at the north exit, then head north until you hit Rt. 10 (Eitai Dori), then head east. About a mile down, you’ll come to the Minato Bridge which crosses the Nihonbashi River. The coordinates for this turn are roughly at 35°40’44.68″ N 139°46’59.90″ E. Turn left (north) and cross the bridge. Head north a few blocks and you’ll come to a massive 4-level freeway interchange above you. Turn left here. Keep this interchange in mind as it’s an important landmark for several reasons explained below. Also under this overpass is an entrance to the Metro subway Suitengumae Station which also houses the Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT) which is explained below.
The huge freeway interchange north of Eitai Dori looking back west along Rt. 50. Suitengumae Station is behind the camera to the left.
Yaesu (east) exit with Tokyo Station on the right. This is facing south. Eitai Dori is to the left (east).
Just outside the Yaesu (east) side of Tokyo Station. Head north here to reach Eitai Dori, then head east (right).
West (Marunouchi) side of Tokyo Station at night. Just to the left out of frame is an entrance to the Hanzonmon Line underground. Suitengumae is to the east of Tokyo Station down Eitai Dori (Rt. 10). This photo is facing northeast.
If you turn right at this interchange you’ll come to the Sumida River a few blocks down. But instead turn left and a few blocks back east you’ll pass the Royal Park Hotel on your right, and come to another Suitengumae Station entrance on your left. You’re now in the heart of Suitengumae. In fact, there are severalSuitengumae Station entrance/exits scattered all around the area. You’ll have to go inside the station to get familiar with all the exits and where they lead. The station itself is entirely underground and except for the large entrance where T-CAT is, the only evidence of the station you’ll see are the small stairwells on the sidewalks.
An alternate walking route would be to cut down side streets east of Tokyo Station, then re-emerge onto Rt. 10 a few miles down.
Cutting east down side streets in Tokyo on the way to Suitengumae.
If you want to take a train to Suitengumae you’ll need to find the Hanzonmon Line on the Tokyo Metro. You can get it from Tokyo Station, or from Otemachi Station just to the north, but be warned that the tunnels + routes to Hanzomon Line are underground in Tokyo Station and are miles of labyrinths. You can easily get lost in them, and even if you don’t it takes forever to get to the actual Hanzomon Line platform under Tokyo Station. An easier way is to find a Hanzomon Line entrance on the surface streets north of Tokyo Station and head down. You still may have to walk a bit so be prepared. The entire experience is generally known around Tokyo to expats as Hanzomon Hell (see videos below). Sometimes you have to walk through entire shopping centers + up and down multiple flights of stairs to get to where you want to go. You can literally spend hours walking around in the system under Tokyo Station – so be prepared.
Abandon all hope of your feet not hurting all ye who enter here. Once you descend into Hanzomon Hell in search of a subway entrance, it may be quite some time until you find what you are looking for. Be prepared to walk. It may take hours.
Another corridor in Hanzomon Hell. Be ready to walk (and walk, and walk, and walk).
Station maps of Marunouchi, Chiyoda, and Tozai lines. Colored circles next to each station indicate line interchange stations. The station highlighted in red is the current station.
One of many surface street entrances to the Hanzomon Line in Otemachi.
Approaching the Ootemori level of Hanzomon Hell under Tokyo Station – only one of many levels you will have to pass through to find the subway platform you want. The station levels themselves are quite nice – it’s the miles of walking that makes it hell.
Deep inside Hanzomon Hell under Tokyo Station. As you come upon a Metro line sign in Hanzomon Hell, you may think your walk is over, but you’re not even close. You’ll often see signs like these color-coded with the line symbol and color, and a message of how much further (such as “Hanzomon Line 500m”) with an arrow. You get duped into thinking it’s just ahead but in reality you’ll have to pass through many such signs to reach the desired platform. What these signs really mean is “X number of meters until the next corridor junction or stairwell or escalator. So it really ends up being many such paths of 500m + 700m + 300M + 200M…. Before you know it, you’ve been walking for 2 hours and have walked over 5 miles!
Tokyo City Air Terminal (T-CAT) just under the freeway overpass interchange. Suitengumae Station is also inside. There’s also a small shopping mall. The pink bldg. visible ahead on the left side of the photo is the Royal Park Hotel. Just to the right behind the station next to the hotel is a huge paid bike parking lot. There is also a station entrance leading underground inside the hotel.
Just west of the station is the very luxurious Royal Park Hotel. It’s very nice but a bit expensive. Expect to pay $200 or more per night. On the northeast corner of the hotel is a huge outdoor paid bike parking lot where you can lock your bike for the day if you need to. Cost is around 400¥ ($4) for 8 hours.
AEON Supermarket + Doutour
There’s not a lot in the way of food around Sutengumae Station. There’s a Family Mart conbini (convenience store) just across the street as well as a 7-11. Just to the east across the street is a Doutour café which is quite good. A few blocks to the east on the same side as the station is a nice AEON supermarket which has good organic vegetables very cheap. They also sell KAGOME bottled vegetable drinks + bottled coffee. Most of the real food in Suitengumae is back towards the west along Rt. 50 where Suitengu shrine is (see below). There is also a post office along this route.
Looking back east along Rt. 50 towards the expressway interchange. The Royal Park Hotel is on the left.
Doutour café also a few blocks east of the station, facing south.
Eitai Bridge + Ookawabata River City
If you walk back to where the IBM HQ bldg. is, you’ll find a small bridge named Toyomi Bridge. You can cross back onto Eitai Dori by crossing this bridge. Once you’re back on Eitai Dori, if you head further east you’ll come to the world-famous Eitai Bridge with its iconic view of Ookawabata River City. You can walk or ride a bike across this bridge and stop mid-way to take photos. If you cross the bridge to the east and keep going, then turn south along Kiyosumi Dori, you’ll find the Tokyo University Centennial Museum of Marine Science and Technology (TUMSAT), which also has a large wooden sailing ship, the Seimyo-maru outside to check out.
Ookawabata River City as seen from Eitai Bridge.
View of Ookawabata River City + Eitai Bridge from futher up the Sumida River.
Kiyosumi Park + Kiyosumi Teien Japanese Garden
A bit to the northeast of Suitengumae across the Sumida River is Kiyosumi Park and Kiyosumi Teien Japanese Garden/Ryōtei Tea House. The garden is spectacular, especially in the fall and is well worth a stop. You’ll need to cross the river and then head north on side streets for a few blocks, but it’s not too far and is well worth the trip.
Suiten-gū (水天宮) Shrine
Perhaps the biggest historical attraction in the area is Suitengu Shrine, established in 1881. It’s just up Eitai Dori on the north side of the street to the west of Suitengumae Station. The shrine’s wooden architecture is amazing. Worth a look.
Aside from the Royal Park Hotel, there are a lot of guest houses and AirBnBs in the area, but the hidden gem to stay at is First Cabin Suitengumae. First Cabin provides luxury capsule lodgings for a reasonable price. Expect to pay $42/night or so. Hidden down a little side street just to the east of the interchange overpass, First Cabin Suitenguemae is worth a stay. The building has been fully remodeled and the facilities are spotless. There’s also a small Lawson conbini a few blocks to the north. The staff is very helpful and there’s a large lobby with tables + chairs to sit at where you can eat your brought-in food. The hotel also sells small breakfasts in the form of croissants, bagels, and pastries. There’s also a coffee machine. Overall, very nice. To get to FCS, head back east on Rt. 50 through the overpass, past a small Koban (police box), past the AEON supermarket, then make the next left (north) down the next side street. Continue north past the bagel shop, then a few blocks up turn right. The building is a tall narrow white/gray bldg. with a First Cabin sign on the front.
The massive 4-level Metropolitain Expressway interchange north of Eitai Dori. The T-CAT/Suitengumae Station are underneath this overpass on the north side. If you head far enough east on this road and turn left (north) you can hike to Sky Tree in about 9 miles.
Hanzomon Line entrance in Tokyo Station. The line map is overhead with each station. Red indicates the current station.
Line entrances @ Otemachi Station. Each line has a colored circle, and a letter. The current station number for this station on each line is inside each circle at the bottom. Some, but not all stations are interchanges for other lines.
Another street entrance @ Otemachi Station. There’s also an area map. The green symbol to the right is the Toei subway system symbol – an alternate system from the Metro but which uses many of the same stations.
Street entrance to Suitengumae Station on Eitai Dori. Just to the right in the upper corner is the Royal Park Hotel. Just down the side street to the right is an outdoor paid bike locker. This is facing west towards Tokyo Station.
Hanzomon Line platform. The yellow rubber tracks are for sign-impaired people. The rubber tracks allow them to use their canes to find their way. Sort of like braille for walking.
The Marunouchi Line whizzes by under Tokyo Station. “Marunouchi” literally means “Home Circle” in Japanese ( “Maru” (circle) “no” (of) “uchi” (home) ).
Entrance to Hanzomon and Chiyoda Lines in Tokyo Station. The numbers indicate which platform side, the colors indicate which line. Some recent renovations in some stations in Tokyo also include lighted color stripes on the walls to indicate which path to take.
If you’re flying to Nartia Airport in Japan, you may want to consider staying over a few nights in Narita City just southwest of the airport.
Take the Keisei Line from the airport to Narita Station and get off.
There are 2 different lines + stations in Narita – the Keisei Line + the JR lines at the JR station. Both stations are within a few blocks of each other near the town square. Don’t get these confused with the stations at the airport. Narita City is actually a few miles southwest of the airport.
There are many good hotels in Narita City but we recommend APA Narita Ekimae – it’s 1 block from the station, very clean, quiet, and reasonably priced at around $65/night. You’ll see the word Ekimae at many hotels in Japan. It means “At the station”.
Just north of the airport is also the Narita View Hotel at around $50-60/night. Well worth the money + closer to the airport. Just keep in mind this option is outside the town of Narita itself so you’ll have to take the train into town to sightsee.
There are countless other quality hotels in the area. Use one of the online booking sites, but we recommend agoda.com.
Quick side trip @ Narita International: Nippon Origami Museum + Shop
If you’re not dead tired and are up for it, while still in the airport, check out the Nippon Origami Museum on the 3rd floor of Terminal 1. It’s an amazing little origami museum and it’s right nearby – or leave early on your return trip and check it out on your way back. Worth a stop.
Narita City itself is a charming old small town with lots to do.
There are stations for both JR trains and Keisei lines in the same block in the town square.
Step off the train from the aiport onto a local street and you’re instanly in small town Japan.
Unless you’re flying in from Asia, it’s likely your flight was long. You can rest in Narita City overnight, before heading back to the airport to catch the NE’X or Skyliner into Tokyo.
Just to the left of the JR Narita Station in the city square is the Narita City Tourist Information Office. There’s actually a lot to do in Narita City – including a nice museum. Also be sure to check out the impressive Narita City Hall.
View of business district in Narita City.The edge of the city hall is the sloped green-roofed bldg. on the left center in this photo.You can also walk a few miles down the main street shown above to the south and back for some nice exercise.
Entering Narita City Square from the south. Turn right here for Narita Omotosando. The JR Narita Station is out of frame to the left.
Narita City Square.APA Hotel is the small white bldg. in the distance to the left of the tall brown bldg. on the right.
JR Narita Station, right. The Narita Tourism Office is just to the left in the same building. Turn right at this light and go north here to get to the main shopping area. In the 3-story bldg. on the left there is a very nice and large Family Mart. Also, just to the left in the tall Skytown Narita, there is a cultural center, and various shops and other attractions.
Keisei Narita Station – take the Keisei Skyliner out of Narita International Airport and get off here.This is just across from the town square.
Narita City Hall
There’s a huge map of Narita City just next to the city hall.
Most hotels in Narita City are conveniently located. Easy to use convenience stores (conbini) and parking abound.
Eat like a king cheap out of conbini (convenience stores). A lot of the food is quite healthy such as cheap pre-made salads, lemon tea, and vegetable drinks. This entire meal only cost around 600¥ (about $6).
You can actaully have a great time in Narita City just walking around. Pick a street and just start walking to see what you’ll discover. If you’re up for getting a Japanese Driver’s License, you can even buy a brand new Honda scooter at local dealers for as little as $900, like the one shown below. The real attraction in Narita is the long shopping street just to the north of the town square. Nippon Wandering TV covered this street in the video shown at the end of this post. To get there go west from either station, into the city square, then turn right (north) immediately. There are all kinds of nice little shops along this street which are well worth a stroll.
Narita is full of simple + charming small homes such as this one.Note the typhoon shutters on the left side.
Narita City has plenty of old-school charm to keep you occupied – well worth a few days exploring.
Epic train tracks heading back to Narita International.Narita City Hall is just across the street to the right, out of frame.
NaritasanPark, International Cultural Center, Shinsho-ji Temple + Great Pagoda of Peace
If you’re feeling adventurous, walk one mile from Narita City Center on backstreets or just north of Naritasan Park to get to a large AEONshopping mall. There is also a street called Narita Omotesando on the way lined with lots of traditional shops + restaurants. You’ll have to map a route on foot on Google Earth from the city center to the mall. It’s not very far. The mall has a grocery, lots of shops and a nice bike shop called AEONBike. There are also buses to the mall. The mall actually has some fairly good food places as well including a Tully’s Coffee which has charge outlets for devices.
About 5 miles northwest of Narita City is the Boso no Mura Open Air Museum. This quaint little outdoor museum is a recreation of a small town in the Edo period. It’s well worth a look. There’s no direct way to get to it except by motor vehicle or on foot. It’s a bit of a hike – and it will be around 10 miles round trip. If you’re up for it, take the Narita Aijiki By-Pass road from Narita northwest. The road is narrow with no sidewalks so you’ll have to be careful due to motor vehicle traffic. To get there from Narita City Center, walk north to AEON Mall first, then head west down Narita Aijiki By-Pass road. You’ll have to map the route on Google Earth or an online map site.
About 6 miles south of Nartia City center is the Shisui Premium Outlets mall. This is a massive (and we mean huge) mall with hundreds of discount premium shops. It’s well worth a stop. If you don’t have motor vehicle access, your next best option is a bus, or taxi. If you don’t want to spring for those, a bike will work just fine. You could walk it on foot if you’re in shape, but you’ll have to take a slightly circular route south on Rt. 409, then west at Rt. 77, then back north on a side street. Total circular distance from Narita City is about 7 miles – so round-trip on foot would be quite a hike, but on a bicycle would be trivial. The outlet is @ 35°42’48.05″ N 140°17’38.28″ E. See the outlet’s site for a complete list of shops. Interestingly, the entire interior walkways of the complex have been mapped on Google Earth so you can also use that to get a view.
While trains are one of the easiest ways of getting from Narita during the day, they aren’t really an option late at night. The N’EX is $36, last leaves Terminal 1 at 9:44pm depositing you at Tokyo Station just under 60 min, and Ikebukuro at 11:09pm (which should give you enough time to transfer to a connecting train for you area, if it isn’t one of those).
N’EX Round Trip can be purchased from JR EAST Service Centers + JR Ticket Offices at Narita Terminals 1, 2·3. Purchase is not available outside Japan, we recommend buying the ticket immediately on arrival.
Adults $60-$70. Tickets are valid 14 days. Trains operate every 30 mins + take about an hour from Narita to Tokyo station. Use Ordinary Car reserved seats on Narita Express. A one-way ticket is valid for use on one limited express.
Narita Airport Transit + Stay Program + Free Guided Tours
What is the Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program?
Incredibly, there are free guided tours around Narita by the Narita Airport Transit + Stay Program. The program connects you with locals who know the area inside and out and are willing to show you around or help you reach your destination. What a great idea.
From the website:
“The Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program helps you do just that by offering a range of both guided and self-guided tours for travelers on a budget. Our English-speaking volunteer tour guides are completely free – you only need to cover personal expenses like transportation – letting you focus on the tour and not on your wallet.
If you have a layover of several hours at Narita Airport, or if you are staying at a hotel in the Narita area and are looking for a way to spend a half-day, don’t miss the opportunity to take part in one of these Japanese cultural experiences or to see the best sights around!”.
Footnote: T-CAT As a Cheap Return Alternative
Here’s a cheap travel hack for the return trip to Narita when you’re ready to leave Japan: Use the Tokyo City Air Terminal (aka T-CAT) bus service. This little -known bus service is way out on the east side of Tokyo right in the Metro Hanzomon Line’s Suitengumae (pronounced Sweet-ten-goo-may) Station. There is also First Cabin Suitengumae capsule hotel just 3 blocks down the street from T-CAT @ around $42/night. When you’re ready to return to Narita you could take the NE’X or Skyliner back, but the T-CAT bus service will shoot you there in silent comfortfor a mere $9. It also has busses to Haneda Airport.
To get to T-CAT, jump on the Metro Hanzomon Line down to Suitengumae Station, and take the City Air Terminal District Gate exit. You can also enter the station from the street. In fact, it’s only a few miles from Tokyo Station itself so you can even walk there from Tokyo Sta. – and see some sights along the way. You can also make reservations on T-CAT’s website in advance. It will save you about $12 compared to taking, say, Keisei Skyliner to Narita from Ueno.
Metro Hanzomon Line map. Suitengumae is roughly in the center (Z10), shown in red, and Otemachi Sta. is just 2 stops to the east at Z08. You can also take the line all the way to its western terminus @ Shibuya, shown on the far left, or Oshiagé/SKYTREE, its eastern terminus, shown on the far right.The Mitsukoshimae stop (Z09) is in Nihombashii just to the north + stops in the basement of the Mitsukoshi Depato (department store), which is well worth a look.
If you are on bike you can park your bike for up to 24 hrs. at the very nice Royal Park Hotel Nihonbashii just down the street for a few ¥. The lockers are outside on the east side, but the place is very safe + the hotel staff will even be willing to help you if you’re not staying there since it’s their bike park. You can lock your bike, jump a bus, or train, go where you need + return later for your bike. The hotel is at 35°40’54.88″ N 139°47’13.24″ E(2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Kakigara-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo). This here map shows roughly the relationship between all 3 places:
There is also another public outdoor bike locker on this route.
Be careful with Otemachi Sta. – it’s easy to get sucked into its labyrinth shopping malls + corridors which go on for miles inside + underground.
First Cabin Suitengumae is on the left tucked down this quiet residential side street.The main street, Etai-Dori is just to the right out of frame. Turn right on Etai-Dori and head a few blocks west to get to T-CAT.
First Cabin Suitengumae has a nice Lawson conbini just up the street. Step outside and turn right and you’ll be facing the street that takes you to T-CAT .There’s also a postal drop box here.
Welcome, dear traveler, to First Cabin‘s futuristic sleeping pods: