The International Gateway to Tokyo
Narita Airport is the place where most travelers first set foot on Japanese soil. It was opened in May 1978 (well after Haneda) and was known as the “New Tokyo International Airport” until it was privatized in 2004. It is located about 65 km east of Tokyo on the outskirts of the town of Narita in the prefecture of Chiba.
For decades, Narita Airport has been hosting most international flights ✈️ while Haneda has been catering to domestic flights. In anticipation of the 2020 Olympics 🏅, however, more and more international flights are being scheduled to land and take off from Haneda which is located closer to Tokyo and is therefore more popular with visitors.
By December 2014, Narita Airport had already welcomed 900 million visitors. However, as explained above, the number of international flights processed through Narita Airport in 2014 amounted to less than 72% of its all-time record. By early June 2015, the airport had seen 5 million take-offs and landings since it was built. It had therefore taken 12 years to reach the first million and only five more years to achieve the fifth. This is due both to the dramatic increase in the number of low-cost flights and the development of tourism from China and other parts of Asia.
Three Separate Terminals
The airport includes three main landing and take-off areas:
Terminal 1 mainly caters to international flights and you are bound to land there if you come through Narita. It offers many conveniences such as the possibility of collecting a mobile phone, a SIM card or a Pocket WI-FI, of sending your luggage by takkyubin or of catching a train 🚅 to any of the Tokyo districts.
Terminal 2, which was opened in December 1992, mainly hosts domestic flights and flights from and to Asia. In April 2015, the Toto brand set up a showroom there to promote their famous Washlets and try and boost export sales, even though Washlets are self-evident to the Japanese.
Finally, Terminal 3, opened in April 2015, now handles many domestic flights from low-cost companies. It was decorated and fitted by Muji, the famous office supplies chain store and offers a cozy atmosphere as well as a large Muji-style dining hall open around the clock. Boarding areas have been designed to represent athletics tracks, blue for departures and red for arrivals. This is, of course, a reference to the upcoming Olympics. Its construction cost only 15 billion Yen 💴 (~108,691,714.10 €) and it is only connected to the other terminals by shuttle services, not by rail.
A free WI-FI network (free WI-FI Narita) is available in Terminals 1 and 2 although speed is often rather slow.