The Narita Express started direct runs Saturday from Narita International Airport to stations close to Mount Fuji, linking the nation's main gateway with the World Heritage site in roughly 3½ hours.

The daily roundtrip service, which will run on weekends and holidays on a seasonal basis, allows travelers to reach Mount Fuji, which was finally added to UNESCO's World Heritage list in June last year, without having to change trains in Tokyo until Sept. 28.

One-way fares will be ¥7,040 in August and ¥6,840 in September.

Jointly run by East Japan Railway Co. and Fuji Kyuko Co., the first train left Narita at 9:15 a.m., filled with travelers wheeling suitcases.

"Narita Airport is the gateway to Japan, and to be able to go straight from there to a World Heritage site must be a big plus for foreign tourists," said 25-year-old passenger Keisuke Hama, who said he would be disembarking at Fujisan Station.