【Make No Mistake!】The Same Train in Japan “Narita Express” and “Shiosai”


Hello, my name is “October train”.

Have you ever used the limited express “Narita Express” to go between Narita Airport and Tokyo when you visited Japan?

On March 16, 2024, Japan’s largest railway company, JR East, revised its timetable. For those of you who are thinking of riding the Narita Express, there are some things you should be aware of. Don’t mistake Narita Express for another train! about it.

This page explains why it is easy to mistake the Narita Express for another train. If you are thinking of riding the Narita Express, please read to the end.


Japan’s limited express trains “Narita Express” and “Shiosai”

What kind of train is “Narita Express”?


The Japanese limited express train “Narita Express” is a train that comfortably connects Tokyo with Narita Airport in the suburbs of Tokyo (Chiba Prefecture). It runs between Narita Airport and Tokyo Station in about 50 minutes to an hour. It stops at Tokyo Station, where the Shinkansen lines converge, so it’s convenient to transfer to the Shinkansen at Tokyo Station and travel to various cities in Japan.

The E259 series trains are used for the Narita Express. Its body colors are white, red, black, and silver.

The seats inside the car are comfortable, allowing you to travel between Narita Airport and Tokyo without getting tired. The higher class “green cars” are more spacious!

Inside the Narita Express train, there is a two-panel display that provides detailed information such as the next station and arrival time. Announcements on the train are also in four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. It is safe even for those who are not familiar with Japanese railways.

For more information on Narita Express fares, how to buy tickets, etc., please visit JR East’s English website.

N'EX(成田エクスプレス) | Train & Routes | JR-EAST
The Narita Express "N'EX" is a fast, convenient, and comfortable limited express train that directly connects Narita Int...

What kind of train is “Shiosai”?

So, what kind of train is the other “Shiosai”?

The limited express Shiosai is a train that departs from Tokyo Station and stops at various stations in Chiba Prefecture before ending at Choshi Station. It is mainly used by Japanese commuters and leisure travelers, and is rarely used by foreigners. What kind of train does “Shiosai” look like?

Please take a look! “Shiosai” is a train that looks exactly the same as the “Narita Express” introduced earlier. This is because it uses the same E259 series trains as the Narita Express.

I’m worried that passengers who want to go to Narita Airport might end up getting on the Shiosai, which doesn’t go to Narita Airport, by mistake. I think it’s especially easy for people from other countries to get on the wrong train.

Please see this route map. “Shiosai” runs along the same route as the Narita Express, but at Sakura Station, it takes a different route from Narita Airport. In other words, if you board Shiosai, you will not be able to go to Narita Airport. Please be very careful.

Why is it so easy to get the wrong train?

In fact, “Shiosai” was a different train until March 15, 2024, the day before JR East revised its timetable.

Shiosai was run by 255 series vehicles, which had distinctive body colors of white, yellow, and blue. This train, with a design inspired by the sea of Chiba Prefecture, was popular, but as it had been running since 1993, its body was aging. Therefore, JR East decided to use a different vehicle for “Shiosai”. The new vehicle selected was the E259 series train, which had been in service since 2009 and had previously only been used on the Narita Express.

In fact, E259 series trains had this color until spring 2023. Unlike today, the letters “N’EX”, an abbreviation for Narita Express, are painted on the car body.

There was also a large airplane logo on the side of the vehicle. It was clearly explained that the train was heading to the airport.

However, starting in the spring of 2023, the “N’EX” and airplane marks on the E259 series trains will be erased and replaced with a silver-based design featuring the words “SERIES E259.” Now that I think about it, JR East must have been thinking about replacing Shiosai with a new train.
しかし2023年春から、E259系電車の「N’EX」や飛行機のマークは消され、銀色をベースに「SERIES E259」という文字をデザインしたものへ塗り替えられました。今思うと、この時からJR東日本は「しおさい」を新しい列車に変えることを考えていたのでしょう。

What should I do to avoid taking the wrong train?

So, what can you do to avoid getting on the Narita Express and “Shiosai” by mistake? The first thing to do is to check which platform the train will depart from at Tokyo Station.
それでは、成田エクスプレスと「しおさい」を間違えて乗らないようにするためには、どうすればいいのでしょうか? まず最初は東京駅で、列車の発車するプラットホームを確認することです。

The Narita Express departs from Platform 4 of the Sobu Line underground platform at Tokyo Station. Use the escalator to go to Sobu Line Underground Platform 4. The signboard for platform 4 also says Narita Airport and Narita Express.

Shiosai departs from Platform 2 of the Sobu Line underground platform at Tokyo Station. It is separate from Platform 4, where the Narita Express departs, but it is very close. The signboard for Platform 2 has the words “Limited Express Shiosai” on it. Be careful not to rush onto the train just because you see an E259 train on Platform 2.

The next thing to do is to check the LED destination information display on the side of the E259 train. This is the direction display for the Narita Express bound for Narita Airport. Check the airplane mark and the words Narita Airport before boarding.

This is the destination guide display for “Shiosai”. The name of the final station, “Choshi”, is displayed. After 8:00 p.m., trains may go to “Sakura” or “Naruto” on the route.

Once inside the car, pay attention to the information display inside the car. If it is Narita Express, information about Narita Airport should be displayed in four languages.

This is the information display for “Shiosai”. It’s the one near the door. Is “Narita Airport” among the currently displayed stops? be careful.

This is the information display above the seats on Shiosai. It tells you that you are going to Choshi. Unlike the Narita Express, the display on the right side does not have much information to guide you, so it keeps showing these characters. Announcements on the train are also in two languages: Japanese and English (Narita Express has four languages).

What kind of town is “Choshi” that you can go to by “Shiosai”?

So, what kind of city is Choshi, which you can go to by riding the Shiosai?

Choshi is a coastal town with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. Because it is located on the easternmost side of the Kanto region, the sun rises early. On New Year’s Day, many people flock from Tokyo and other places to see the first sunrise of the year.

Choshi is a “fishing town” where many fishermen live. Fresh fish from the Pacific Ocean is caught here, so the seafood bowl like the one in the photo is delicious, and the sashimi and sushi are sure to be delicious as well. Choshi is also home to the factories of soy sauce manufacturers Yamasa and Higeta, so even the soy sauce you pour on your fish is delicious. It is wonderful. Please come and enjoy fresh fish dishes and soy sauce in Choshi!

Lastly, as a train fan, I recommend the Choshi Electric Railway, a local train that runs through Choshi City. Although it is a line with a long history, it has suffered from difficult management for a long time. However, you can see the rich nature and cabbage fields from the train window, and you can also go to Inubosaki, a tourist attraction. The “nure senbei” produced and sold by Choshi Electric Railway are soaked in soy sauce from Choshi and are very delicious, so be sure to buy them as souvenirs.

If you would like to know more about Choshi’s charms, please visit the Choshi City Tourism Association’s website here! (written in Japanese)


Videos are also available on Youtube

A video with almost the same content as explained on this page is available on Youtube. If you would like to watch the video, please click here.

Have a wonderful journey without taking the wrong train!

How was that? On this page, please note that the train “Narita Express” that connects Japan’s Narita Airport and Tokyo and the train “Shiosai” that connects Tokyo and Choshi are now operating on the same vehicle, so it is easy to mistake them. I’ve explained it.

There is a saying in Japan that says, “All’s well that ends well.” It would be a disaster if you took the wrong train at the end of your trip to Japan and couldn’t make it to Narita Airport. Move carefully until the end. Railways are very well developed in Japan, and there are a variety of trains running, but there are many other trains that you can easily board on the wrong one. However, if you check carefully and use them, your travel within Japan will be smoother.

Thank you for reading to the end. Have a wonderful trip!