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I arrive into Narita Terminal 1 at 9:10pm next Sunday, 1st July.

I need to check in to my hotel (Hotel Gracery Shinjuku) before midnight.

I have a JR Pass but don't have to activate it on the 1st, I could activate it only the next day.

I have no idea how long it would take to exchange the voucher for the pass at Narita, to be honest... I'd rather do it that night if time allows.

Arriving at 9:10pm, I doubt I'll be able to make it to the last NEX train at 9:44pm (after getting my checked in luggage and passing customs).

What is the next best option, in your opinion?

Personally, I believe I might also miss the Keisei Skyliner 58 at 21:50pm, but will probably make the Keisei Skyliner 60 at 10:30pm. This has me arriving at Shinjuku JR station (after a transfer) at around 23:41pm.

It leaves me 19 minutes to make it to my hotel, which is apparently a 10 minute walk away, in the middle of the night, with luggage. I understand Shinjuku is a very big station and can be confusing on your first time.

Should I brave the walk from the station? Take a taxi from the station?

Or is there a better option?

Thank you.

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    If only it was just the train stations which could be confusing in Tokyo... I don't know if you have ever been to Tokyo, but remember that there are no street names or numbers, and building numbers can be tricky. Also Google Maps apparently does not recommend alighting at Shinjuku, but rather at Shin-Ōkubo (if arriving via the Yamanote line) or Shinjuku-nishiguchi (if arriving via the Oedo line). In both cases, you really have only a few minutes to spare before your carriage gets back to a pumpkin. – jcaron Jun 18 '18 at 11:24
  • hi @anomuse I have contacted them and they said no issues with check in late until midnight. after midnight I have to /call/ the front desk directly on the night and I won't have any means to do that easily. – user79316 Jun 18 '18 at 20:16
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If you take the Keisei Skyliner 60, and change at Nippori (23:09/23:14) for the Yamanote line, you'll be in Shinjuku at 23:36.

Finding a way out of Shinjuku station and then finding your way to that hotel, even in 24 minutes, isn't hard for someone who knows Tokyo. For a newcomer, slightly more stressful. You might want to look into the option of getting off at Nippori, which is a much smaller (but by no means small) station, and take a taxi to your hotel. At that time of night, it shouldn't take more than 20-30 minutes.

Don't bother about the pass that night. You don't have time.

EDIT

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On a Sunday (I put exactly your date of arrival), it is even worse, as the connecting train arrives 5 minutes later. You'd arrive at 23:41. The taxi from Nippori looks even better now. Note that barring an accident, trains in Japan run exactly on time.

Buying a ticket or a Suica/Pasmo will take just as much time. Go to a machine, select the English menu, buy a card and put 5,000 or 10,000 in it. You can even use that to pay taxi fares.

The taxi stand is near the East exit. This time of day (night) you'll have taxis waiting for you.

  • If you take a taxi, don't forget to have the hotel's name and address printed, in Japanese. Tokyo taxi drivers are not very competent in english, and some have a hard time finding their way in Tokyo even with their GPS. – jcaron Jun 18 '18 at 17:02
  • @jcaron good point. "Hotel Gracery Shinjuku" will become something almost unrecognizable when pronounced in Japanese. The best is indeed the address, in Japanese, so that the driver can input it in his GPS... – user67108 Jun 18 '18 at 17:05
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    Hotelu Guraceri Shinujuku :-) With a rolled "r", obviously. – jcaron Jun 18 '18 at 17:07
  • @dda oh I guess my arrival estimates were a bit off, thanks! for the Skyliner, can I buy a pasmo IC card from a machine and load it up with enough JPY or will it be easier to get just a ticket? also, to get a taxi from Shinjuku, which exit is best? also also, if I got a taxi from Nippori.. which exit? there will be plenty available? – user79316 Jun 18 '18 at 20:30
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    @dda yes thank you, I did think it was 23:41 haha that's what I put in my question. after you suggested the taxi from Nippori initially I did also think to use that option as the safest one. So to confirm.. use the ticket machines to get an IC card and load it up on the spot as well and I can use that for the Skyliner? I've read some places the Skyliner is reserved seating, but you can still board without reservation? And EAST exit, got it, thank you :) now hopefully we clear immigration and customs in time.... – user79316 Jun 19 '18 at 4:46
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Here is the tricky part: Shinjuku is the largest transportation hub in the world (train or otherwise) and the station itself has more than 200 exits. It's fairly well organized, but it's still easy to get lost because of its sheer size, being there for the first time and/or no reading/speaking Japanese

The good news is that according to Google Maps your hotel is only an 11 minute walk from the center of the station, which makes it entirely walkable. It looks you need to get off at exit B10 or B13 (see for example https://www.tokyometro.jp/lang_en/station/shinjuku/map/index.html).

Most of the walking in the station is underground, i.e. it's reasonably fast since there are no traffic lights and roads to cross. Since it's a Sunday night, it shouldn't be super crowded.

Taxi isn't easy either since you need to deal with getting a taxi, explaining the driver where you need to go, and figuring out how to pay. Ride sharing has only limited availability in Japan, so this may not help much. Taxis are also subject to traffic and even once you are in one, you may not move much faster than walking speed.

My personal preference would be to just walk it, provided you don't have big luggage and you can familiarize yourself with the station and the route upfront.

More links to the exact exits:

https://www.tokyometro.jp/lang_en/station/shinjuku/map/exit_b10.html https://www.tokyometro.jp/lang_en/station/shinjuku/map/exit_b13.html

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Your hotel is near Seibu-Shinjuku station (used by the Seibu rail company), which is separate from Shinjuku station of other railway companies. Leaving Narita airport with the Skyliner no. 60 and transferring at Nippori and Takadanobaba, you arrive at Seibu-Shinjuku at 23:45, which should let you reach your hotel safely before midnight, as it is both a smaller station and a shorter walk than if you arrive at Shinjuku.

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