Written by MATCHA_En
Japan's Major Airports - A Guide To Narita, Haneda, And KIX
Japan's three best-known airports are Narita, Haneda, and the Kansai International Airport. It can be hard to decide which airport to use when flying in and out of Japan. This article introduces each airport, access to and from Tokyo, Osaka, and large cities, and suggestions for travelers.
Narita, Haneda, and KIX Airports in Japan
The most globally-known airports in Japan are Narita International Airport and Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport), two major airports serving Tokyo and eastern Japan, and Kansai International Airport (KIX) in Osaka, a gateway to Kyoto and western Japan. There are many factors to consider when choosing flights, especially from overseas, and it can become difficult to decide, too.
This article introduces each of these major airports in Japan, public transportation methods, and tips on using each of them.
Narita International Airport - State-of-the-Art Airport Friendly to All
As one of the busiest airports in the world, many international flights use Narita Airport. Located about 60 kilometers (37 miles) outside of Tokyo, Narita is actually in Chiba Prefecture. Therefore, planning is recommended for getting to and from the airport. More international flights connect with Narita than with Haneda, giving overseas travelers more choice in choosing flights.
Narita Airport has three terminals. It is a large airport with many restaurants with Japanese and international cuisine, souvenir shops, cafes, and even Japanese cultural activities. For example, if you have a layover at Narita, you can join a tour to see the surrounding area, famous for its Edo Period-style townscape and a prominent temple with a pagoda and gardens.
Access to and from Narita
The two major transportation methods between Narita Airport and Tokyo are riding the Narita Express (N'EX) and the Keisei Skyliner. Both are convenient options but go to different parts of Tokyo and the city's surrounding areas.
The Narita Express is best for those heading to Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Yokohama, and those with the Japan Rail Pass (rides on N'EX are included). It costs 3,070 yen (one-way) from the airport terminal to Tokyo Station and takes around one hour.
Keisei Skyliner takes riders from the airport to Nippori and Ueno in Tokyo and is especially convenient for those lodging close by, in Asakusa or east Tokyo. The ride between Narita Airport and Keisei Ueno Station is around 46 minutes and costs 2,520 yen one way.
Taking a bus to the airport is another option. Keisei Bus runs from the Tokyo Station area to Narita Airport for 1,000 yen (one-way) with an advanced reservation. The ride takes around one hour and a half.
Haneda Airport - Conveniently Close to Central Tokyo
Located in the Ota ward of Tokyo, Haneda Airport, or Tokyo International Airport, is known for its proximity to the city center. If you are with older people or have a large number of travelers in your group, Haneda is a comfortable choice to make.
Most domestic flights use Haneda, as well as a large number of international connections, making it the busiest airport in Japan.* Haneda's modern facilities, including restaurants, shops, and cafes, will make the airport experience pleasant.
*Based off of the number passengers for domestic and international flights, taken from statistics from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism current as of September 2019)
Access to and from Haneda
Haneda Airport is within the Tokyo metropolis. It takes less than one hour to reach it from Asakusa, Shibuya, Tokyo, and most other spots in the city. The Keikyu line connects to both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 of the airport.
To get from Shinagawa Station to Haneda Airport, take the Keikyu Main line for 20 minutes (300 yen one-way). Be sure you leave from Keikyu Shinagawa Station and not JR. If you are going to or from Asakusa, take the Toei Subway Asakusa line to arrive at Haneda in 34 minutes (*the Airport Express train bound for Haneda) for 560 yen (one-way).
The Tokyo Monorail, which connects the airport to Hamamatsucho Station (a transportation hub with connections to JR and subway lines), is an option that provides scenic views of the Tokyo bay area.
Convenient buses connect Tokyo and Kanagawa with Haneda Airport. Keihin Kyuko Bus runs a large number of airport limousine buses that are convenient. See the official website for time schedules and ticket reservation.
Kansai International Airport - Start Your Travels in Kyoto and Osaka Quickly!
Photo by Pixta
Kansai International Airport (KIX) services the Kansai region of Japan, connecting travelers conveniently to Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. With several direct international flights to the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and Asia, it is the largest airport in western Japan. Located around 35 kilometers (21 miles) southwest of Osaka city, it takes a little over an hour to the main city.
KIX is, naturally, the ideal choice for those planning on basing the majority of their travels in western Japan. The fastest Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto takes a little over two hours, meaning that travelers can start sightseeing and experiences the sights in Kansai faster if they arrive by plane.
There are several methods of getting to Kansai International Airport. For riding the train, those going to and from JR Kyoto or Shin-Osaka stations, ride the Kansai-Airport Express HARUKA for a direct ride (no transfers) to KIX. It takes 80 minutes from Kyoto (2,900 yen one-way) and 50 minutes from Shin-Osaka (2,380 yen one-way). For those coming from JR Osaka Station, take the Kansai-Airport Rapid Service train to get to the airport in one hour and 5 minutes without transfers (1,210 yen).
Using the airport bus is another convenient and comfortable option. Buses operate from Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Nara, and the airport. See the official website for more information. Costs range from 2,600 to 1,600 yen, making it a reasonable choice.
Narita, Haneda, and Kansai Airports
The major differences between each major airport in Japan are their locations.
Those flying in and out of Tokyo have the choice between Haneda and Narita airports, with Haneda requiring less transportation time, but Narita having more international flight options. Those sightseeing in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and the Kansai area are recommended to use Kansai International Airport.
No matter which airport you choose, advanced planning is recommended for navigation to and from the airports in Japan.