I am travelling from Singapore to San Francisco and the airline has a layover of 7.5 hours at Tokyo Airport (NRT). I am wondering if I would be allowed to go out to experience the city for a while in some form a visitor visa.

I know Singapore has such facilities, but does anyone know if I can do it in Tokyo? Any suggestions or pointers are welcome. Note - I do not have a visa for Japan yet, but I am hoping that 1 day visitor visa could be possible at airport.

  • 1
    What passport(s) do you hold? Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 15:11
  • @AnkurBanerjee I hold Indian passport. I am PR of Singapore (not sure if that would help outside of SG) Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 15:25
  • 2
    Citizenship / residency status is very important for these situations. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 15:26
  • 2
    7.5 hrs is far too short to go in to tokyo, from narita.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 13:03
  • @JoeBlow You can get from Narita to Ueno in about an hour on the Keisei main line. If you allot 3 hours to travel, and get back to the plane an hour ahead of departure time, that leaves 3 hours in Ueno. So if they're okay with a really quick look at a small part of the city, it might work, assuming their passport allows it.
    – user137
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 7:03

4 Answers 4


For the visa part, the rules are (from Timaticweb):

Holders of onward tickets transiting to a third country can obtain a Shore Pass on arrival for a max. stay of 72 hours only if there are no connecting flights on the same calendar day and if:

  • holding a passport, proof of maintenance during their stay, and sufficient evidence that the Shore Pass will be appropriately used; and
  • departing from the same airport of arrival, or from a different airport (or seaport) around the airport (or seaport) of arrival, if both ports are located within the same group below.

The Shore Pass is not intended for itineraries that make Japan a destination.

  • Group A: Airports: Narita (NRT), Haneda (HND), Nagoya (NGO), Niigata (KIJ), Komatsu (KMQ) and Yokota. Seaports: Tokyo, Yokohama, Niigata and Nagoya;
  • Group B: Airports: Osaka Kansai (KIX), Nagoya (NGO) and Komatsu (KMQ). Seaports: Osaka, Kobe and Nagoya.
  • Group C: Airports: Fukuoka (FUK), Nagasaki (NGS), Kumamoto (KMJ), Kagoshima (KOJ), Naha (OKA) and Kadena. Seaports : Hakata (Fukuoka), Shimonoseki and Naha (Okinawa).
  • Group D: Airport: Chitose (CTS). Seaports: Tomakomai, Otaru, Hakodate and Muroran.

Under those rules, you can obtain a shore pass on arrival at Narita and venture out of the airport.

  • Thanks for this answer. Both this and @hippietrail answer above help me a lot to plan my journey. Thank you! Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 22:57
  • Link is out of date...
    – Karlson
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 13:53

I'm not sure about the visa part, but about the time:

By the cheapest train I seem to recall Narita airport is about two hours from Tokyo. Also you might well have to be back at the airport at least one hour before boarding, and quite possibly more. And the train system in Japan is notoriously complex. It will be very easy to get a bit lost and miss your flight in Tokyo (I've done it once) and it will be very expensive to just take a taxi the whole way to the airport from Tokyo. You might consider renting a car, but you'll have to make sure you've prepared in advance because even with English on all road signs, Japanese place names etc can be a bit bewildering when you're not used to it.

If you just want to dip into Japanese culture though, don't worry because Narita has quite a bit to offer for an airport city. It's very compact, hard to get lost in, and close to the airport so even if you have to take a taxi it won't be too expensive. It's a fairly typical little Japanese city with lots of small shops, food, parks, a calligraphy museum, and a temple that is at least a thousand years old.

My first two times in Japan I had only 24 hours in Narita between flights and I enjoyed it very much.

  • That's helpful information. Thanks a lot for that. I shall try to figure out about the VISA part. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 15:23
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    I see that the itenerary I had selected is not longer available, I will have to transfer from NRT to HND in 7 hours and got to see if it is worth it. Yes, I am very interested in taking a dip for the first time I am going towards japan. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 23:28
  • Any suggestions for going East of the airport to the ocean communities?
    – BozoJoe
    Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 7:52
  • @BozoJoe: Why not ask in a new question? Commented Dec 10, 2013 at 10:04
  • And, if I recall correctly there were plenty of small cafes/bars with signs "Japanese only" in their windows.
    – Aleks G
    Commented Dec 30, 2016 at 15:13

Many visitors in your situation find their time in Tokyo quite disappointing. Tokyo is far from Narita*, confusing, and crowded. The best sights in Tokyo are the temples, but there is a superb temple complex in Narita city. Stay in Narita.

*This should improve when the new train line is completed.

  • Unless, of course, you actually enjoy the crowdedness and confusingness of Tokyo :)
    – BrendanMcK
    Commented Nov 17, 2012 at 11:39
  • The Naritasan temple complex and unagi road are quite fun
    – BozoJoe
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 22:23
  • Tokyo is easily the best and most awesome place on earth. But yeah it's far too short a time to go in to tokyo.
    – Fattie
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 13:03

Don't even try it! Far better to relax in the airport or visit the charming city of Narita.

As others have posted, Natita is only a stop away from the airport and provides an entertaining way to spend a few hours and ten or twenty thousand yen.

Go to Tokyo only when you have a few days to stay there. On a short transit layover like this, you'll spend all of your time queuing and traveling and will end up exhausted and frustrated.

Remember that an hour prior to departure is the time when your flight will be preparing to board. Not the time you should be arriving back at the airport.

I know the original post was several years ago, but since Internet forums live on forever, and this question will be asked again and again, I'm posting this answer for posterity

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