Layover travelers flying into Tokyo will find some very interesting activities to indulge in while waiting for the connecting flight, when they arrive at the Tokyo Narita International Airport. The airport is located in on the border between the city of Narita and the town of Shibayama, both of which are located in the Chiba Prefecture.
Within the airport are two terminals with a separate railway line running beneath each of them. Travelers are required to take shuttle bus services to go from one terminal to the other. Terminal 1 offers curbside check-in service and baggage reconnecting facility to travelers wanting to take a domestic flight to within Japan. In Terminal 2, travelers are required to exit the gate area, walk to the domestic check-in facility, and then check-in for their connecting flight. Geographically, the airport is at a distance of 35.7 miles from Tokyo railway station. Travelers with valid documents can reach Nippori station in Tokyo from the airport within 36 minutes, with the help of the “Skyliner” train which starts from Airport Terminal 2 station located underneath the terminal. The Skyliner is operated by the Keisei-Narita Airport Line. Those with some more time on their hands may take the Airport Limousine Bus, besides flagging fixed-fare taxis (call +81 (0)476-34-8755 on weekdays, +81 (0)476-32-9516 during weekends).
For those who prefer to wait within the airport precincts for their next flight, there is a lot to offer at the airport. Baggage may be stored in coin-operated lockers in either of the terminals at various locations. Japanese Yen may be purchased or sold at the Post Office located in Terminal 1; besides at a number of banking outlets such as Chiba Kogyo Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and the like. Cellular phones services may be rented from reputed companies such as DoCoMo, Dio Mobile, G-Phone, etc. For those who need it, wheelchairs and baby carriages may be rented without any cost, and returned after use at the nearest information counter.
The airport also provides the services of dentists, general clinics, and there is also provision of automated external defibrillators (AED) to handle any cardiac emergencies.
The food conscious and famished traveler has a wide range of restaurants to choose, from Japanese to Western cuisines, from Chinese and Ethnic cuisines to fast food, cafes and bars. Notable among these are the Kaisen Misakiko, Ramen Kagetsu Arashi, Seiyoken, Fujiya and the Royal Coffee Shop.
The fashion-conscious traveler may make full use of this layover to shop at duty-free shops and brand boutiques such as Fa-So-La, Cartier, Burberry, Gucci, Dunhill, etc. These outlets are positioned all over the place within the airport premises.
For those looking for a short nap during the layover, or wanting to catch up on their sleep, may check in at hotels near the airport. Notable examples include the Radisson Hotel Narita (+81 (0)476-93-1234), Narita Excel Hotel Tokyu (+81 (0)476-33-0109), Hilton Hotel Narita (+81 (0)476-33-1121), and the like. These hotels are available at varying price points.
Tokyo is vast and when you are on a short layover in this city, you’ll never be able to fit in all of the attractions here without the services of a trained guide. This is why taking a tour of the city is such a good idea! There are loads and loads of different tours to choose from, ranging from bus tours through to cycling tours, and from walking tours through to haunted tours, if your heart is up to the latter!
Perhaps the best way to see this spectacular city though is during the night, when all of Tokyo comes out to play and the atmosphere is electric. The lights and sounds of this city are unparalleled anywhere else in the world and you’ll never forget a tour in the dark! Of course, you could just snuggle up in bed instead, but where is the fun in that really?
At tour of Tokyo can vary in price depending on the one that you choose, but it’s worth it – after all, how many times in your life are you going to visit this amazing place? Of course, when the tour is over you can relax with a good bit of sushi and some sake, before then flying on to your next destination…
As Bear Grylls would say, if you want to understand everything about the place you’re in, then you need to get to the highest point possible. In the case of Tokyo, then this means getting to the top of the massive Tokyo Tower, which provides amazing panoramic views of the whole of the city, as well as vital services to Japanese TV and radio. It’s like a Japanese version of the Eiffel Tower, if you will!
One thing that we can assure you of is that you won’t find it tough to find this place, as it rises 333m above the skyline and is painted in vibrant red and white! You can either look out of the Main Observatory, which is a mere 150m up, or catch your breath and then head to the Special Observatory, which is a butt-clenching 250m above the streets below!
If you simply don’t have the energy to climb this gargantuan structure, then just looking at it is enough for many, especially during the night. It’s decorated with 176 different lights and is amazing to behold – and even better to take some sparkling pictures of, possibly on the brand new camera you’ve bought in one of Tokyo’s many electronics shops!
Ginza, for locals and tourists alike, is the hub of Tokyo: the place where you can find absolutely everything you could ever possibly want. Whether you want a bite to eat, the chance to shop or somewhere to head out on a big night, Giza will be able to supply exactly what you are looking for! Be warned though – it’s not a cheap place to be, as a cup of coffee can cost up to $10!
If you don’t have the kind of money that would make Bill Gates blush, then just walking around window shopping here is a great way to spend the day, although you will be tempted to part with your cash a few times. You’ll see some iconic sites along the way, such as the Ginza Wako clock tower and the Sony Building, both of which sum up what this city is about – the ultra-modern mixed with history in a unique way.
Ginza, as you might expect, is served by a number of transport links and is easily accessible from the airport – making it a perfect place to visit for those on a short Tokyo layover. Try to use the underground though – it’s an experience in itself – and get off at Ginza Icchome Station to be in the hub of the action.
If the riches of Ginza don’t appeal to you – although we don’t know why they wouldn’t – a good alternative would be to wander around the streets of Asakuza, which plays hosts to loads of little souvenir shops and other traditional attractions. In fact, it’s a mile away from the hustle and bustle of Ginza and will show you a completely different side to the city.
The most famous attraction here is without doubt the Buddhist temple of Sensoji, which has been around since the 7th century and is still active to this day. It’s one of the most important Buddhist sites in Tokyo and is a must for anyone looking to immerse themselves in Japanese culture on their layover in Tokyo. If you need to get there but don’t fancy getting a taxi, then why not take a traditional rickshaw? They are cheaper and, quite frankly, much more fun as well!
Once you’ve finished exploring the delights of the Asakusa district, you can head to one of the many restaurants in the area, most of which serve real authentic Japanese food. Like we said, this is a mile away from the McDonalds clad area of Ginza and this will appeal to the more culturally aware traveler!
When you think of Japan, what’s the first thing that you think of? No, it’s not manga and Nintendo, but the gorgeous cherry blossom: a tree that has grown to represent Japan on the global stage. There’s no better place to see this tree than in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, but this isn’t all that this popular tourist destination offers…
This garden is, in essence, a potted history of Japan, as it has been the residence of many royal families from the Edo period onwards. This means that you can tread in the footsteps of some of the most eminent Japanese royalty, although you are more likely to tread on other tourists’ feet instead! Don’t let the crowds put you off though, as this is a magical experience that must be taken in when you have a layover in Tokyo.
It’s easy to get to this National Garden, as it is just a short walk from the Shinjuku Gyoenmae station. Don’t leave it too late to head there though, as the last admission is at 16:00 – although you will need several hours to walk around so it’s doubtful anyone would get here at this time anyway! Make sure that you leave time for some traditional Japanese tea as well!