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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Japan > Tokyo

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Travel to Tokyo

Flying to Tokyo

Japan's national airline is Japan Airlines; other airlines include All Nippon Airways, Jetstar Japan and Peach Aviation.

The airports serving the city are Tokyo Narita International Airport and Tokyo Haneda Airport. Both airports provide quick bus or train access to the city centre.

Flight times

From London - 12 hours; New York - 14 hours; Los Angeles - 12 hours; Toronto - 13 hours 20 minutes; Sydney - 9 hours 30 minutes.

Travel by road

Driving in Japan is not as daunting as might be expected - drivers are generally disciplined and courteous and major signs are in both Japanese and English. Expressways are toll roads that link the main cities, although the tolls themselves are pricey.

Traffic in Tokyo drives on the left and the legal driving age is 18 years for a car and 16 years for a motorbike. The speed limit is usually 100kph (62mph) on expressways and 40kph (25mph) in built-up areas. An International Driving Permit and valid national licence are required, along with at least six months' driving experience and insurance. Driving after drinking any alcohol is illegal and penalties are severe.

The Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) (tel: +81 570 008 139; https://english.jaf.or.jp/) provides an English-language 'Rules of the Road' booklet. JAF Road Service offers 24-hour breakdown assistance for both members and non-members. In the case of an accident, you must inform the police by calling 110.

Emergency breakdown services

JAF (tel: #8139, in Japan only).

Routes

Shuto Expressway is a network of 24 routes connecting Tokyo and the surrounding areas.

Coaches

A number of companies offer a comprehensive network of long-distance bus services, although few have websites or telephone lines in English.

Comfortable overnight coaches with reclining seats serve destinations such as Kyoto, Osaka and the cities of northern Honshu. Coaches leave from terminals outside Shinjuku Station and Tokyo Station.

Willer Express (www.willerexpress.com/en) can help you organise tickets for highway and night buses.

Time to city

From Nagano - 3 hours 30 minutes; Sendai - 4 hours 30 minutes; Nagoya - 4 hours; Osaka - 6 hours 30 minutes.

Travel by Rail

Services

Tokyo is the railway hub in Japan, meaning you can get to Tokyo from just about every city on the islands of Honshu, Kyushu and Hokkaido by train.

Highspeed Shinkansen (bullet train) connects Tokyo with major cities like Kyoto and Osaka and all Shinkansen trains stop at Tokyo Station. You can also ride a Shinkansen train to Tokyo from Niigata on the Japan Sea, Nagano in the central Alps, as well as Fukuoka on the southern island of Kyushu.

There are also normal train services connecting Tokyo with many cities and towns across Japan. Normal trains usually stop at Shibuya or Shinjuku.

Valid for seven, 14 or 21 days, the Japan Railways Pass (www.japanrailpass.net) offers travellers unlimited access to national trains and most of the shinkansen lines.

Operators

A consortium of six companies, Japan Railways (JR) operates most services (including Shinkansen) to and from Tokyo. For more information, see this JR page on the official Japan tourism site.

Journey times

From Hiroshima - 4 to 5 hours; Kyoto - 2 hours 15 minutes; Nagano - 1 to 2 hours; Fukuoka - 5 hours.

Featured Hotels

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Hotel Gracery Shinjuku

Set only a few minutes' walk from Shinjuku train station and in easy walking distance of a dizzying array of shops and restaurants, Gracery Shinjuku is something of a landmark - it's set in a modern high rise building that's 30 stories high, and there's a giant replica godzilla head peering out the side. If you're willing to pay extra, you can stay in a godzilla-themed room too. Though the rooms are compact, the bathrooms are larger than the norm and the higher rooms have scenic city views; there's also a convenient Italian restaurant on-site and a cinema on the ground floor.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

The Park Hyatt Tokyo's role as muse and backdrop to Coppola's Lost in Translation pushed it onto the world stage in 2003. Towering over fashionable Shinjuku, guests enter on the 41st floor and gaze across the neon-lit Tokyo sky. Art blends with sleek architecture and spacious rooms, and even the spa combines tradition and modernisation with impressive success. Plus, there's something to be said for working out in the gym that tormented Bill Murray.

Hotel Asia Center of Japan

Quite possibly offering the cheapest double rooms in central Tokyo, this hotel is ideal as as a central base for a short visit. Within walking distance of the ex-pat haven of Roppongi, and the restaurants and bars of Aoyama Itchome, guests are well placed for sightseeing.

Imperial Hotel

This 5-star luxury hotel in Vilnius and is set in a historic 16th-century building. Its great Old Town location, super helpful staff and 55 spotless rooms combine to make this a deservedly popular choice with business and leisure travellers alike.

Claska Hotel

Modern minimalist design and classic Japanese aesthetics brush shoulders in this hip hotel, just outside of the city centre. There’s the chance to choose between a western–style room or traditional tatami space. Each option comes with plenty of home comforts, including beautiful toiletries and access to a huge CD and DVD collection. There’s even an in–house gallery, plus a French/Japanese fusion restaurant.

Hoshinoya Tokyo

Opened in the summer of 2016, Hoshinoya is a unique urban offering for Tokyo, a hotel with a contemporary take on Japan’s legendary omotenashi hospitality, set right at the heart of the city's Otemachi district. Leave your shoes at the door and unwind into spacious quarters, designed with a tasteful nod to the traditional Japenese aesthetic. The 19-floor hotel with stylish lattice exterior forms a bijou enclave in this bustling business district, just a 10 minute walk from Tokyo Station. You won't want to leave your ochanoma lounge area, allocated exclusively to guests staying on each floor and decked in traditional tatami mats, it has a library, sofas and kitchen space. But if you do the rooftop onsen spa is a truly unique Tokyo experience. The hot spring waters are the perfect cure for urban fatigue and will help you revitalise your body and mind, all the while staring up at the open Tokyo skies above.