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A guide to Tokyo's airports

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Tokyo’s first international airport is commonly known as Haneda Airport.  It opened in 1931 and is located just 14km south of Tokyo station.  As air travel became more popular and Japan’s economy grew, it was apparent that a new airport had to be built.  Since there was almost no available land in Tokyo to build a new airport, the government choose to build a new airport in Chiba prefecture, about 60km outside of Tokyo.

The area was mostly farmland and there was quite a lot opposition to the new airport, by local residents.  While there were plans to build five runways, only one was eventually completed, because of the land disputes.    A second terminal was completed in 1992.  The government provided compensation to local residents to avoid the kinds of problems that plagued the building of the first terminal.

Many Asian airlines were given rights to use the new terminal, more so than American and European airlines.  There are planes to build a new low cost carrier terminal (LCC) to be used by budget airlines Air Asia and Jetstar.  Haneda airport is mostly used now for domestic flights.

While it doesn’t matter too much to visitors which terminal they will arrive at, it is important to note which terminal (one or two) your airline departs from.   As the two terminals are quite a distance apart, if you are running late, there is a good chance of missing your flight, if you go to the wrong terminal.

The official website for the Narita International Airport can be found here.  You can find information such as which terminal your airline uses.  Since the international airport is more than 60km outside of Tokyo, taking a taxi is very expensive, even for business travelers.  Your best bet is to either take the train or a ‘limousine’ bus.  The Narita Express train is operated by JR (Japan Railway) and is perhaps the most well known.  The trip is fast and you can reach Tokyo station in just 53 minutes.

The bus service is known as ‘Airport Limousine‘ and while the name might conjure up a black, luxury stretch limo, it is actually just an ordinary bus, albeit a clean and new one.  Taking a bus can be convenient for first time visitors as it stops at some of the most famous hotels in Tokyo, which is also good if you have a lot of luggage.  Train stations in Tokyo, usually have a lot of stairs you have to go up and down, which could be a problem if you have a lot of luggage.

About 

Mike has lived in Tokyo for more than 10 years and loves sharing his knowledge about Japan's metropolis.

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