This snap was taken at Nippori station on the JR Yamanote line. From here I get on the Skyliner that you see approaching and then it will take 51 minutes to get me to Narita airport. The Skyliner stops at Airport Terminal 2 and the final stop Narita Airport.
This is where you would pick up your tickets for the Skyliner at Nippori station. You can also catch the Skyliner from Ueno which is also on the JR Yamanote line. It costs 1920 yen to get to the airport from either Ueno or Nippori.
One of the reasons why I prefer the Skyliner is because the seats recline and you can rotate them to face either way. The standard seats on the JR Narita Express don't recline or rotate. I wouldn't usually be too bothered about the seats but the Narita Express is incredibly slow. As it uses JR's train tracks used by other trains, the Narita Express trends to stop a lot to wait for the other trains to get out of the way.
The Skyliner has its own track so its a non stop ride to Narita. I remember taking the Narita Express from Narita once and it took me over 3.5 hours to get back to Tokyo after a long flight - was miffed!
Delays, uncomfortable seats and an extra 1000 yen does not seem like a good deal to me so have avoided the Narita Express for all these years - things may have changed though.
After arriving at Narita airport, go downstairs to where the train platforms are and look for this counter where you can pick up tickets for the Skyliner. You can also pick up tickets for the local train that stops at every station too. I think the ticket is about 1000 yen cheaper but takes longer.
You can also get into Tokyo by using the Limousine Bus. Costs 3000 yen to get into Shibuya. Here is a list of places where the bus will stop in central Tokyo. Typically takes between 75 and 125 mins to get to Shibuya. I only recommend this route if you really cant be bothered to carry luggage around the trains. The bus is costly and often gets stuck in traffic. We decided to take the bus once and will never do it again ever! The bus was stuck in traffic for about 3 hours and then we got off to take a taxi to get back home - the bus follows a particular route so it wont take shortcuts to avoid traffic.
Speaking of Taxi, if you pickup a standard taxi outside the airport, be prepared to pay 20000 yen to get into central Tokyo. Will take 60 - 90 mins.
Alternatively you can get a chartered taxi service through Tokyo MK - price list lives here. This service will cost 17000 yen to get into Shibuya. Tokyo MK also have a pickup service which they charge an extra 3000 yen for. If you have parents that you want picked up then you may want to give this service a whirl.
The fastest route between Tokyo and Narita airport however is the helicopter service provided by Mori Building City Air Services. The ride will cost 37500 yen per person and take a mere 30 mins. Timetable is available here. The helicopter departs right from the center of Tokyo in Akasaka.
If you are landing in Tokyo after the 17th of July 2010, you will be treated to have the option to take the New Skyliner which will get you into Tokyo in just 36 mins. If your hotel is in Shibuya, Ikebukuro, or Shinjuku then you will need to take the Yamanote line which will take another 30 mins. Cant wait for this service to be in action!
The New Skyliner on a test run below.