Narita International Airport is Japan’s second-busiest airport, and plays host to a huge number of international passengers. Whether you’re traveling to Japan, or just spending a layover here—which can stretch from 4 to 36 hours—there are lots of ways to make the most of your stay here.
4 Hour Layover or Less: Explore Narita Airport
With a short layover, the best (and safest) thing you can do is explore Narita Airport’s hidden gems, and get some rest. You’d be surprised at what you can do just within the airport complex.
Feast on the Restaurants
You may not have time to feast on fresh sushi from the marketplace, but Narita Airport has over 30 top rated restaurants of your favorite Japanese delicacies. Enjoy sushi from Sushiden, tonkatsu at Tonkatsu Inaba Wako , and warm your stomach with ramen from Menya Kuukai.
Freshen up at the in-house hostel:
9 Hours, which is located at Terminal 2, is Narita Airport’s own capsule hostel. Passengers can catch up on sleep by renting a pod by the hour from 9am to 6pm, or spend a whole night. You can also book private day rooms at Terminals 1 and 2—these come with lockers, bathrooms with showers, and toiletries.
Catch Japanese Cultural Events
No time for sightseeing? Narita Airport hosts a number of events and performances that give visitors a short but sweet look into Japanese culture. These include tea ceremonies, calligraphy workshops, Koto performances, and more.
8 Hour Layover: Explore Narita City
On average, you’ll spend around 3 hours for a round-trip from Narita Airport to Tokyo City. So instead of wasting time in transit, leave your bags at luggage storage, stick close to the airport but enjoy your fresh air and stretch your legs at the charming, old town of Narita. It’s often skipped over by Japan tourists.
Getting to Narita City: The quickest way is by train. From the Narita Airport, you can take either the JR rapid train (240 Yen per trip; leaves every hour) or the Keisei train (260 yen, leaves every 20 minutes). The trip is roughly 10 minutes long.
Walk along Narita Omote-sando—which connects right to to the JR Narita Station—and drink in the village charm. This 800m road, which leads you to the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, recalls the days when pilgrims from Tokyo would make the journey on foot. Many of the small shops and restaurants that catered to the pilgrims back then are still open. Sit down for a piping hot bowl of ramen or a plate of unagi. You’ll also find lots of Japan’s famous quirky dollar shops, which are great places to get souvenirs.
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
At over a thousand years old, Naritasan Shinshoji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. Its Edo-era buildings and pagodas and Great Main Hall dedicated to Fudo Myo-o (God of Fire), continues to draw both tourists and worshippers. If you can, stick around to witness the daily Goma fire ritual where several priests light incense sticks before the Buddha.
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is surrounded by over forty acres of lush greenery. Head behind the main hall to enjoy some quiet time, and midmire the tranquil ponds and flowering trees. The sight is especially charming in during the autumn and the spring, when the trees change colors and the plums and cherry blossoms bloom.
12 Hour Layover or Longer
You’ll have to time your transit well and account for those pre-flight check-ins (customs, luggage, etc.), but a layover this long is just begging for you to explore Tokyo.
Getting to Tokyo: The fastest and cheapest option is to take the Keisei Train to central Tokyo, and you can even reserve train seats ahead of time over here with KKday. You should budget around 3 hours to get to and from the Narita Airport.
Depending on what time you head out, you have a lot of Tokyo City options. Explore any of the famous shopping districts (READ: 10 Best Shopping Spots in Tokyo), or drop by the Imperial Palace. At night, head out to the Roppongi district and visit the famous Tokyo Robot Restaurant, or treat yourself to a stunning view of the city from Tokyo Skytree. Or check out our 24 Hours in Tokyo Itinerary.
Layovers can be a pain when you’re traveling, but if you’re spending it in a place as nice as Japan, you might as well make the most of it.