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Narita Express train headed to Mount Fuji

New service aims to help foreign tourists avoid changing lines in Tokyo

by Atsushi Kodera

Staff Writer

The Narita Express railway service will run all the way to Mount Fuji starting this summer, offering travelers a potential way to skip the capital and its congested railway interchanges.

The distinctive red and black N’ex cars currently link the Tokyo area to Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture. Under the new plan, East Japan Railway Co. and Fujikyuko Co. will be able to shuttle passengers much further, via JR and Fujikyuko lines, to Kawaguchiko Station in Yamanashi Prefecture, the nearest stop to the mountain.

The train will operate on weekends and national holidays, when it will make one return trip per day. The ride will take 3½ hours and will cost about ¥7,000 one way. It will operate between July 26 and Sept. 28.

It is scheduled to depart Narita Airport Station at 9:15 a.m. and arrive at Kawaguchiko at 12:43 p.m. The return ride to Narita Airport Station departs Kawaguchiko Station at 2:13 p.m.

The number of foreign tourists visiting Mount Fuji has been rising since UNESCO designated the 3,776-meter volcano, which straddles Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, a World Heritage site in June 2013. The number of foreign visitors to Yamanashi Prefecture rose by more than a third to 483,000 last year from the year before. The results of a prefectural government survey suggest that about half of those visitors were attracted by Mount Fuji’s designation as a World Heritage site.

While there are bus services that operate between central Tokyo and Kawaguchiko, JR East says travelers going from Narita Airport Station to Kawaguchiko Station by train currently need to take the Narita Express to JR Shinjuku Station and make a connection onto the JR Chuo Line, often with hefty luggage in tow. They then take a train to Otsuki Station and change to the Fujikyuko Line to Kawaguchiko.

The new service will provide easy access to must-see sites, said Hiroko Arai, a spokeswoman for Fujikyuko Co.

“Kawaguchiko Station is the nearest train station to Mount Fuji, and from there you can take various buses to sites such as Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Saiko, gondola lifts, lake cruise-boat quays, and Sengen Shrine, which forms part of the World Heritage designation,” she said. “I recommend visiting any of the five lakes.”

Arai said Tokyo residents can benefit from the new train service as well, since it includes stops at JR Tokyo, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Tachikawa and Hachioji stations.

The service requires reservations. Tickets go on sale a month beforehand and are available from booking offices and from JR East’s Ekinet website.

  • Chandrakant Kulkarni

    What is the meaning and significance of the word Narita? Or it’s just some name of a place?

    • cup_of_tea

      Narita is the name of the town where Narita International airport is.
      At 7000 yen and 3.5 hours this is neither cheap nor especially quick. Better options still exist

      • Chandrakant Kulkarni

        Thanks a lot for the info. Well, Narita is very similar to a feminine word Sarita in Sanskrit (सरिता): meaning a river. So I imagined Narita to be the name of a cute Japanese woman in her lavish Kimono, gently moving that exotic hand-fan in delicate gestures.

      • Jamie Bakeridge

        Nah, it is a grim provincial concrete town with aircraft noise and lots of izakayas with “No foreigners” signs in the windows.

      • Chandrakant Kulkarni

        Understood!
        ‘A cluster of human population, with no Face at all..’
        Thanks for the info.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    1 train, at 9.15am in the morning leaving Narita before 95% of that days flights have even arrived. Something tells me this is not the solution to anything, just another inanely misguided attempt to be seen to be doing something anything about Japan’s lack of tourists.

    • Chandrakant Kulkarni

      I think, it’s some secret mind-set of Japan not to encourage Tourists at all. I saw Narita’s tourist information in very a poorly translated text from Japanese into English.

      • Chandrakant Kulkarni

        And
        Thanks for the info!