Hiroshima to Narita Terminal 1 on January 5, 2015
July 16, 2014 3:20 AM   Subscribe

We (two non-Japanese speaking adults, perhaps with JR Passes) will be in Hiroshima on the morning of January 5. I fly out of Narita T1 at 14:00, she flies out of Narita T1 at 18:00. What is the best way to get there in time, given the fact that we will have bags and it's the end of a big holiday travel period there?

Options considered so far thanks to Hyperdia:

- a morning flight on ANA or JAL to Haneda, then travelling from Haneda to Narita via public transport (about $110 USD for flights booked a few days in advance, from looking at fares next week - Haneda to Narita covered on the rail pass but too many changes with bags?)

- taking a Nozomi/Mizuho/Hayabusa Shinkansen to Tokyo/Shinagawa, then the Narita Express (paying cash for the tickets as they aren't covered by the pass - about $220 USD)

- taking the train to Osaka/KIX or Fukuoka (covered by the pass on a slower Shinkansen), and then flying to Narita (presumably close to the cost of flying from Hiroshima?)

Is there some other option I'm not seeing? Can we book those Experience Japan/Welcome to Japan tickets offered by ANA/JAL this far in advance?

We will have bags, the trains will be heaving, and it will probably be cold or cold-ish. I can't do online check-in for my flight and I'll need to check a bag, so I'm hesitant to arrive at NRT after 12:30. I am leaning toward flying ANA for the sake of earning miles and possibly being able to through-check our luggage as we'll both be flying on Star Alliance carriers.

Thanks for any advice you can offer!
posted by mdonley to Travel & Transportation around Japan (7 answers total)
We had a similar set of circumstances and knew we were going to have JR passes regardless - so the best combination for us was taking the last train the night before and staying at a cheapish place near NRT.

I don't know if there is a reason why you need to be there that time of year - but I learned the hard way how dead even Tokyo was 1/1 to 1/3 or so. Makes NY or London on Christmas look bustling.
posted by JPD at 4:43 AM on July 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd go the night before. The trains aren't really set up for lots of luggage, so that may pose a problem for you. Flying might be better all around for predictability and comfort.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:03 AM on July 16, 2014

One option you haven't considered is taking the Sunrise Seto/Izumo night train which leaves Okayama at 10:30pm. This means you can leave Hiroshima at 9.20pm and arrive at Narita Airport before 9am.

You can take this train for free with a JR pass if you can deal with the carpeted sleeping area, though that is likely to be booked out around this time of year. I have tried the cheapest compartment once (around 10,000 yen) and it was great, though there wasn't a lot of room for luggage. That train has a shower room and even a little lounge area with drinks machines. I bet your plane doesn't have any of that!

Whatever you do, I would recommend using Airport Takkyubin to send your luggage to Narita ahead of time. Makes getting to the flight much less stressful.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 7:35 AM on July 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think you can do it day-of if you leave as early as possible. I'm going on the assumption that you have to do it day-of.

Forgetting about the end of the New Year's holiday for a moment, the best thing to do is send your luggage by courier (often known as "takyubin") at least 24 hours earlier. However, there are really only two major hurdles with luggage on the shinkansen: getting on the train and getting off the train. There is typically no baggage compartment, and the only place to store your larger luggage is behind the last set of seats. So you need to get the damn things up to the Shinkansen platform, and then onto the train, and then off the train at Tokyo Station. It is very stressful, but it can be done.

Once at Tokyo Station you can transfer to the NEX express line to the airport. So you have to lug your luggage down out of the Shinkansen terminal, and then find the NEX platform, and the schelp your bags onto NEX. At least NEX has a baggage compartment at the end of every car.

I like to have one hand free to manage tickets or whatever (ie, one person, if you go this route, can only have one large suitcase and a smaller carry-on that can be piggy-backed safely on top of the larger piece).

Anyway, we fly out of Narita, and travel from the same part of the country. We always ship our larger bags. The problem is that the shipping companies need *at least* 24 hours.

Flying to Haneda with large bags would kind of suck - it is a loooooong trip from Haneda to Narita. It's still a better option than training it (even without a ton of luggage) to KIX and then even Narita, and or training it to Fukuoka and then Narita.

Depending on how many bags you have, taking the Shinkansen from Hiroshima to Tokyo, and then transfering to NEX seems simplest. Even then it's going to be tight in terms of time, especially for you.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:37 AM on July 16, 2014

I really think that you need to not be a six-hour train ride away from the airport on the day of your international flight. This applies several times over during the New Year season.

That said, if you get on a 6am Shinkansen, you can get to the airport by noon, two hours in advance of your first flight.

I agree with the advice of KokuRyu and others to ship your luggage to the airport ahead of yourselves.

If at all possible, I recommend leaving Hiroshima the night before. The night train was an excellent suggestion.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:52 AM on July 16, 2014

I would go for JPD's suggestion of getting to Narita the night before and staying in a hotel there. We did that the last time we went to Japan (and we were just staying in Tokyo), and it was so much less stressful to only have a 10 minute train ride to the airport instead of trying to schlep all of our stuff from further away. The 5th will still be early enough to be in the New Year's temple visiting time, so you can have an easy morning, head down to Naritasan temple in the morning and check it out before heading to the airport.
posted by that girl at 11:12 AM on July 16, 2014

Response by poster: In the end, we decided to do this:

- stay overnight at the Hiroshima Airport Hotel
- put me on the 7:40 am ANA flight to Haneda, connecting to the direct Haneda-Narita bus, arriving at Narita around 11:30 am
- put my companion on the 14:45 ANA/IBEX flight to Narita, arriving at
Narita around 16:00

As we are both flying Star Alliance carriers to Japan we were able to book cheap "Experience Japan" fares on ANA's site here; even with the hotel it's still cheaper than the train and we won't need to lug our bags that far either.

Thanks all!
posted by mdonley at 8:20 AM on September 7, 2014

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