International airports in Japan

Many international travelers consider the flight to be the most confusing and nerve-wracking portion of their trip, from booking flights to navigating customs and airport terminals. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.

We’ve compiled a list of the most important airports in Japan, complete with access information and abbreviation codes, to help your vacation run a bit more smoothly.

All of Japan’s international airports have a few things in common. Each is located near a big city, giving you ready access to local sights and attractions – especially when you employ the Japan Rail Pass and the local train system. Additionally, all of the airports offer flights to many cities around the world. Some smaller airports offer international flights within Asia, to countries such as Korea and China.

Japan’s most important airports include Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda Airports, Osaka’s Kansai Airport, and Nagoya’s Chubu Airport. Below, discover all you need to know about these and other useful airports.

Tokyo Airports

The greater Tokyo area is home to two large airports – Narita and Haneda. Both airports offer amenities to travelers and boast some of the best on-time departure rates in the world. If you are flying into Tokyo, you may be wondering: which airport should I choose?

Should You Fly Into Narita or Haneda Airport?

Which airport you use will largely depend on where you are flying from. Around half of Japan’s international travelers enter through Narita Airport. Most international airlines offer flights to Narita. If flying from abroad, your carrier will most likely utilize Narita Airport. If you live in a neighboring country or are entering through such a country, you might use Haneda Airport. Some flights from Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seatle are now served by Haneda Airport. It is located closer to Tokyo, and ground transportation is, therefore, faster and cheaper.

Narita International Airport

Narita International Airport (NRT) is the largest international airport in Japan. It is located 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) east of Tokyo.

Access: You can use the JR Narita Express (abbreviated N’EX) to travel between Tokyo and Narita Airport, covered by your JR Pass. Stations served include Tokyo Station, Chiba Station, Yotsukaido Station, and Sakura Station. The N’EX runs every half hour during mornings and evenings, and hourly during midday. The trip takes approximately one hour.

Narita Airport Terminal 1 Map
Narita Airport Terminal 1 Map – Image courtesy of Narita Airport
Narita Airport Terminal 2 Map
Narita Airport Terminal 2 Map – Image courtesy of Narita Airport

Alternatively, you may take the Narita Line/Sobu Line Rapid Train. One train departs for Tokyo Station per hour, and the journey takes one and a half hours.

Haneda Airport

Haneda Airport (HND) is Japan’s largest domestic airport, located 14 kilometers (8 miles) just south of Tokyo. Haneda is the second largest airport in all of Asia, serving more than 72 million passengers annually.

Access: You may take the Tokyo Monorail between Haneda airport and Tokyo, and it’s included with your Japan Rail Pass. The train runs, on average, every four minutes. The first station, Hamamatsucho Station, can be reached in just 13 minutes. Other stations of the Yamanote Line – Tokyo, Akihabara, Ueno, Shinjuku, and Shibuya Stations – can be reached in 20 to 30 minutes.

Haneda Airport Map
Haneda Airport Map – Image courtesy of Haneda Monorail

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Kansai International Airport

Kansai International Airport (KIX) is western Japan’s major airport. It is located 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) southwest of Osaka. It’s also the nearest international airport from Kyoto.

Access: You can travel between Kansai International Airport and Osaka using the JR Haruka limited express, which connects to Osaka Station, covererd by Japan Rail Pass. The trip requires 40 to 50 minutes.

Kansai International Airport Map
KIX Map – Image courtesy of Kansai Airport

Chubu Centrair International Airport

Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO) serves central Japan. In fact, Chubu means “central Japan,” and its central location is what won the airport its nickname “Centrair.” Chubu Centrair is located 30 km (about 18.5 miles) south of Nagoya.

Access: You may travel between Chubu Airport and Nagoya using the Meitetsu Line μ-SKY limited express. The train ride takes between 45 and 55 minutes.

New Chitose Airport

New Chitose Airport (CTS) is the fifth busiest airport in Japan. It serves the world’s second busiest air route, the Sapporo-Tokyo Haneda route. This route is used by nearly 8 million passengers annually.

Access: The JR New Chitose Airport Station is located on the first basement level (floor B1F) of the domestic terminal building. Trains are available to Sapporo, Abashiri, Asahikawa, Tomokomai, Higashi Muroran, Hakodate, Obihiro, and Kushiro via the Chitose, Hakodate, Sekihoku, Muroran, Sekisho, and Nemuro Lines.

Naha Airport

Naha Airport (OKA) is located on the island of Okinawa. It is Japan’s seventh busiest airport, serving over 17.5 million passengers annually.

Access: Trains arrive and depart from Naha Airport Station between 6 am and 11:30 pm.

Fukuoka Airport

Fukuoka Airport (FUK), formerly the Itazuke Airbase, is the primary airport for the island of Kyushu. It is the fourth busiest airport in Japan, and also the fourth busiest single runway airport in the world.

Access: The Fukuoka City Subway provides a direct connection to Hakata Station. From there, you can access the JR Sanyo Shinkansen and the JR Kagoshima Main Line.

Japanese airports map

Many of Japan’s smaller domestic airports also offer some international flights to locations such as Seoul, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guam. Included among these are the airports of Shin-Chitose, Asahikawa, Hakodate, Aomori, Akita, Sendai, Ibaraki, Niigata, Toyama, Komatsu, Shizuoka, Okayama, Hiroshima, Yonago, Takamatsu, Matsuyama, Fukuoka, Saga, Oita, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, and Naha. Using one of these small airports may be convenient if you are already in the area and departing for a neighboring country.

Japan Airlines plane

Are you ready to take to the skies? Start planning your next adventure and book your JR Pass today.

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2 thoughts on “International airports in Japan”
  1. We are Australians and to arrive at Narita Airport. The JR Rail Pass doesn’t seem to be shipped to Australia. How do we buy the pass at the Airport? and can it be activated immediately for use to get us on the N’EX to Asakusa that day of arrival?

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