Pick Your Airport of Entry: Narita or Haneda for Your Japan Journey

Narita and Haneda rank among the world’s top airports in Japan.

In the 2023 Skytrax list of top airports worldwide, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) secured third place, while Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT) claimed ninth place. These rankings highlight their exceptional performance, including awards for Best Airport in Asia, Best Domestic Airport globally, Cleanest Airport globally, and top honors for PRM (Passengers with Reduced Mobility) and accessible facilities.

Which airport should you choose for your journey, Narita or Haneda? Let’s delve into the distinctions between these two airports.

One notable aspect that may surprise travelers is that Narita International Airport is not actually situated within Tokyo itself. Instead, it is located in Chiba Prefecture, approximately 70 kilometers away from Tokyo Station.

More: Top 5 budget hotels near Narita International Airport
Image Source: jrailpass

For travelers heading into central Tokyo from Narita Airport, several transportation options are available. Limousine buses and express trains are popular choices for convenient travel. The Narita Express N’EX train is particularly convenient as it stops at major stations like Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Yokohama. Additionally, the Keisei Skyliner provides swift access to Nippori Station, where passengers can transfer to JR trains to reach various parts of Tokyo.

In contrast, Haneda Airport is situated within Tokyo itself, specifically in the Ota district on the city’s southeast edge, and is a mere 20 kilometers from Tokyo Station.

Traveling from Haneda Airport to central Tokyo is also convenient, with options including limousine buses, trains, monorails, and the Keisei line. Compared to Narita, the journey from Haneda to major destinations like Shinjuku or Ueno is notably shorter. We can easily access the Yamanote circular train line by transferring at Shinagawa Station, and the entire journey to final destinations typically costs around 600 yen.

While Haneda Airport serves as the primary base for Japan’s major airlines, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA), the majority of international flights still depart from Narita Airport. Haneda handles international flights to approximately 35 cities, whereas Narita Airport connects to around 117 cities globally.

Both airports have low-cost carriers (LCCs) operating, but Narita Airport has a more extensive network and greater number of flights in this segment. Narita has increasingly become a hub for low-cost airlines, with Gate No. 3 being specifically built for these carriers in 2015.

Currently, Narita Airport serves as a hub for several prominent low-cost airlines including Peach, Jetstar Japan, and Zipair Tokyo. The presence of these LCCs has significantly benefited travelers seeking affordable options for visiting Japan.

The international terminals at both Haneda and Narita airports are designed to provide a welcoming and enjoyable experience for travelers.

Haneda Airport’s international lobby stands out for its modernity and array of attractions. Visitors can explore the indoor Edo Koji Market, where traditional Japanese goods are sold alongside contemporary items. Numerous shops offer a glimpse into Japan’s culture through fashion, crafts, and souvenirs. Restaurants in Haneda Airport showcase the diverse and delicious flavors of Japanese cuisine, from sushi to ramen, providing a taste of old Tokyo’s culinary heritage.

Image Source: Flickr

A notable feature of Haneda’s international lobby is the replica of the Nihonbashi bridge, a historic landmark in Tokyo. This scaled-down version serves as a symbolic gateway, signifying the beginning or end of one’s journey in Japan. It reflects the rich history and cultural significance of the Nihonbashi area, which was once the heart of Edo, now Tokyo.

Both Haneda and Narita airports cater to travelers’ needs for rest and relaxation, offering various amenities and accommodations.

  • First and business class lounges are available, albeit in fewer numbers compared to Narita.
  • Shower facilities are offered at Haneda Airport for a fee
  • Haneda provides convenient seating options across terminals, including daybeds, benches, and furnished areas suitable for resting.
  • The airport operates 24/7, offering options like the Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu for overnight stays or naps, along with capsule hotels.
  • Narita features a greater number of lounges compared to Haneda, providing ample rest and relaxation options.
  • JAL’s first class lounge is renowned for its sushi bar, where chefs prepare fresh and delicious sushi upon request.
  • Similar to Haneda, Narita offers shower facilities for a fee.
  • Massage chairs are available throughout Narita Airport, providing a quick relaxation option for travelers.
  • The Narita Travel Lounge in Terminal 1 offers a casual and comfortable space with views of the runway, refreshments, and light meals.
  • Narita also boasts a capsule hotel for travelers requiring overnight stays or extended layovers.

  • Haneda Airport offers numerous free charging areas spread across its three terminals, providing convenience for travelers needing to recharge their devices.
  • Alongside charging stations, travelers can also access free Wi-Fi throughout the airport, ensuring connectivity while waiting for flights or during layovers.
  • At Narita Airport, travelers can connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots available in all terminals, as well as on buses connecting terminals.
  • Similar to Haneda, Narita Airport also provides free charging areas at various locations throughout the airport, allowing travelers to power up their devices without any additional cost.

Both Haneda and Narita airports provide a wide range of duty-free shopping experiences, featuring pharmacies, designer brands, and the renowned Donki mega discount store.

When it comes to dining, both airports boast a diverse selection of restaurants catering to various dietary preferences. Some of the notable establishments at there are shown as follows:

Offering a relaxed dining ambiance, this eatery presents a menu inspired by Tokyo’s culinary delights, along with captivating views of the airport.

This vibrant food court offers a delightful array of dishes, ranging from traditional Japanese Soba, Tonkatsu, and Yakisoba to international favorites like pizza, pasta, Chinese cuisine, and Western dishes.

Situated overlooking the runway, this establishment specializes in hearty burgers and grilled delights.

Known for its panoramic views of the ocean and runways, this restaurant serves an enticing selection of Chinese dishes paired with tropical wine selections.

A cafe offering picturesque views, it features a menu encompassing pancakes, pasta dishes, parfaits, soups, and delectable sweets like whipped cream.

This friendly European-inspired bistro delights patrons with Italian cuisine and charcoal-fired pizzas, accompanied by breathtaking vistas.

Stylish and exclusive, this eatery offers Japanese delicacies such as noodles and delightful sake.

A casual dining spot renowned for Japanese dishes crafted from seasonal ingredients.

Moreover, Haneda Airport features a sizable observatory perfect for aviation enthusiasts, an array of dining choices, and the intriguing “PLANETARIUM Starry Cafe” At this unique cafe, visitors can savor their meals while gazing at a simulated night sky adorned with over 40 million twinkling stars.

Haneda Airport PLANETARIUM Starry Cafe
Image Source: OZmall

Indulge in pork noodles at this ramen restaurant directly from Tokyo, offering a diverse range of ramen options catering to various tastes.

Known for its thick udon noodles, this cafeteria offers a scenic view of the airport. Its menu features udon noodles, tempura, and onigiri. Kineyamugimaru is certified halal.

Serving Italian-style spaghetti using imported ingredients directly from Italy, including cheese and olive oil, in a contemporary setting.

A casual eatery offering Chinese specialties such as Stir-fried Noodles and Sichuan Noodles, along with light meals and full dinner options.

Ideal for families and featuring a kids’ menu, this restaurant specializes in set menus encompassing fish, meat dishes, tempura, sashimi, and udon noodles.

A branch of Botejyu, renowned for modern yaki dishes including takoyaki octopus balls and crispy fried chicken, originating from Osaka in 1946.

With a garden-like ambiance and 200 seats, this casual dining spot offers a wide array of culinary choices, spanning Japanese to Western cuisine.

Featuring ingredients sourced directly from the Udon’s homeland, this Japanese restaurant from Miyatake Sanuki Seimenjo serves bold and thoughtfully prepared dishes.

When traveling to Japan, whether via Narita or Haneda airports, it’s advisable to arrive early before your flight to explore these delightful dining options and experience the unique offerings of each airport. Additionally, consider spending your first or last day in Japan exploring the airport surroundings as there are plenty of enjoyable activities to partake in.