Long layover in Tokyo Narita: what to do
Updated: Sep 4
Narita is one of the main airports in Tokyo, but it is also a lovely small town not to be missed. If you happen to have some spare time to spend in Narita, this guide is for you!
I have just spent a couple of days here and I found it so beautiful that I thought everybody should know about it!
THIS GUIDE IS FOR YOU
Whatever reason brings you to Narita, you should really make the time for a visit to this little town!
Maybe you have a connection flight and you have a long layover in Narita before your next departure.
Or you are leaving Japan on an early flight and you want to sleep closer to the airport to get a bit more rest and avoid the long journey from the city centre.
Perhaps, you are arriving in Japan after a long flight or late at night and you don't want to stay on the road even longer, but get settled in your hotel and relax.
Or maybe, you have just read this post about the nice town on Narita and you want to check it out!
Don't wait! Buy now your Japan travel guide!
There are 3 Terminals in Narita. Most domestic and international airlines are located in Terminal 1 and 2, while only Jeju Air, Jetstar, Spring Japan and Vanilla Air use Terminal 3.
Check here where you need to go: things change all the times!
There is a Free Shuttle Bus service between all the Terminals that is very well explained on the airport website.
All Terminals are full of restaurants, café, services, ATMs, Information desks, shops, seating areas, kids parks, lounges and more.
There are plenty of Baggage Storage options available at Terminal 1 and 2, if you wish to leave the airport "Hands Free". Coin operated lockers are located on almost every floor and you can find all the information here.
Inside both Terminal 1 and 2, you can also find the Post Office, where you can easily collect your amazing Wi-Fi Router that you ordered online from the amazing Japan Wireless!
GETTING TO NARITA (town)
Of course, at Narita airport, there are plenty of things to do, from eating to shopping to relaxing. But an airport is still only an airport and that's why I strongly suggest you head to the town for a walk!
From both Terminal 1 and 2 underground level, there are two fast and convenient connections to the town of Narita:
JR Narita line: it takes 15 minutes from Terminal 1 and 12 from Terminal 2 and it costs ¥240 (£1.65 ca) per person.
Keisei Line: it is 13 minutes from Terminal 1 and 9 from Terminal 2 and the cost is ¥260 (£1.78 ca) each.
The two stations in the town are located very close to each other, about 3 minutes' walk and both are in the centre.
You can take taxis outside the stations, but I actually think that you can walk everywhere!
If Uber is still not available in Japan at the time you are reading (in 2020, the service is still scarce and expensive!), you can use the local JapanTaxi App (Android and iOS) which works in the exact same way. Nice and easy!
WHAT TO DO IN NARITA
A huge amount of information, including itineraries and discount coupons, about the town can be found on the FEEL website.
There are so many other things that you could do in this area, but, unless you plan to stay here few days, the below activities will fill up the time generally available while waiting for a flight connection!
Narita Omotensando street
The 1.5 Km road that goes from the stations to the famous Naritasan Temple is the beautiful Narita Omotesando.
Take your time to stroll on this antique street, full of beautiful traditional Japanese buildings, shops, restaurants and lovely people.
Every few meters, on both sides of the street, there are small, cute sculptures of funny characters and all kind of animals!
This lovely souvenir is sold everywhere in the Omotesando: it was so cute that I had to buy it for my collection of little planes!!!
It is called Unari-kun and it is half airplane and half eel! It has been nominated the official mascot of Narita city in 2017. I couldn't find it anywhere in the UK, but if you like it, you can buy the Official Fan Book here!
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
This beautiful Buddhist temple rises on the grounds of a huge park. The history of the temple goes back more than 1000 years, and you can hear it for yourself if you decide to do one of the guided tours below or one available at the temple.
The temple is only 1.5 Km walk from the station (downhill!) on Narita Omotesando and it will be the most enjoyable walk!
Inside the gate, there are trees, lakes, ponds and memorial stones. And let's not forget the lots and lots of turtles living quietly in this peaceful environment.
Naritasan has a nicely organized website that will give you plenty of information if you need more!
Freshwater Eel (Unagi) Restaurants
There are one restaurant after another on Narita Omotesando and most of them prepare eel! This is the traditional and official dish of the town since the Edo era and people are crazy about it. I had never had eel in my life, before visiting Japan but I must admit it is really tasty!
Outside some of these restaurants, you can see the entire preparation process, from the whole animal to the cooked skewers.
JOIN A TOUR
At the airport, in both Terminals,you can find the desk of the "Narita Airport Transit & Stay program". They provide information about self-guided tours and also non-professional guided tours made by volunteers (mornings only): what a nice idea!
If, instead, you like the idea of joining a professional tour, I can recommend these options on Viator:
The "Narita 4 hours private walking tour for transit and layover" is a private tour and includes pick up at the airport.
The "Private Narita Layover Tour including Sake Tasting" is still a private tour, but it lasts about 3.5 hours and departs from JR Narita station, so you have to organize your own transportation (see above for more info!).
WHERE TO STAY IN NARITA
If you have enough time and you want to add a nice overnight stay in Narita, there are plenty of options!
To search availability and prices of other hotels in Narita have a look and book here!
We stayed at the Richmond Hotel Narita, a beautiful 3-star hotel about 5 minutes' walk from the station. It has all kind of rooms, from single to triple, smoking and not. Furniture is contemporary and minimalist, and the room has a lot of free amenities. It has an on-site restaurant, but I cannot comment on it as we didn't use it on this occasion :)
A nice plus of this hotel is the free shuttle service to/from the airport. It is available free of charge only at certain times of the day and if booked in advance. What a treat!
If you prefer to stay in a more traditional house or room, check out AirBnb instead! You can get up to £34.00 OFF your first booking!
TRANSFER TO TOKYO
There are 4 main ways you can reach Tokyo from Narita airport (and vice versa):
The Keisei line train (and also the Skyliner) leaves from the stations at both Terminal 1 and 2, and reaches Ueno in about 40 minutes. These trains are frequent (every 15 minutes during the day) and the one-way ticket costs about ¥2500 (£19.00 ca).
There is a Limousine Bus service, that costs about ¥3200 (£24.00 ca) and gets you to Tokyo Station in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
FINDING A PLACE TO WORK FROM
If you need a relaxed environment and a place to work from, in typical Japanese style, head to Kaikatsu Club! The website is only in Japanese, but at the entrance, there is English information, too.
There are plenty of private cubicles for one, two or three people. Although the seat is "Japanese", meaning "on the floor", it has a backrest that makes it really comfortable. Also, the floor in the cubicles is padded, which makes it even softer and comfy!
Inside the cubicles, there are computers, hangers for your coats, reading lights and menus of simple food available to order. Outside the cubicles, you can find slippers to go around the area and to the toilet.
At the reception, you can find blankets and pillows. And in the common area, you can get tea, coffee and ice cream all the times you wish (and it's free!).
Of course, there are plenty of comic books available to rent during your stay, if you want to do the whole experience!
We brought our laptop with us and worked from there for a few hours: a lovely experience!
This "Manga Café" is available throughout Japan and prices change in each location. The registration fee is about ¥300 (£2) and 3 hours would cost around ¥950 (£6.50). Definitely recommended if that's what you need!
A NICE LAYOVER IN A LOVELY LITTLE TOWN
Everything described, from the hotel to the temple, to the Manga Café is walking distance. I believe you will truly enjoy this stroll.
This is the map, just to give you an idea.
Whether you are looking for some quiet time in the temple, an immersion in the past in the Omotesando or few hours of relaxing in the Manga Café, you will find your place in Narita.
I would easily spend 2 or 3 days in Narita, but if you only have a few hours it will be worth it anyway!
Have you been to Narita or are you going soon? Do you have any question that you want to ask me about a layover in Narita? Let me know in the comment box!
Thank you so much for reading!