A Guide to Major Airports in Japan

Man looking at arrival board in Japanese airport

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If you're flying into Japan from abroad, you'll likely head to Tokyo first. It has two major airports, Haneda and Narita, the latter of which carries the most international traffic into the country, though Haneda has long-haul routes, too. Osaka's Kansai International Airport is another major point of entry for foreign visitors. And while Japan's high-speed trains are legendary, many travelers choose to fly between many of the other major airports across the country.

Tokyo International Airport/Haneda (HND)

Haneda Airport, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
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  • Location: Ōta
  • Pros: Wide variety of flights; excellent amenities; easy to navigate; convenient train connection to downtown
  • Cons: None, truly
  • Distance to Shinjuku: A 25-minute taxi will cost about $65. Or you can take a combination of trains for about $6—it'll take just under an hour.

Tokyo International Airport, better known as Haneda, is Japan's busiest airport and the fifth busiest in the world, serving 87.1 million passengers in 2018. But the airport hardly ever feels crowded (save for the security lines), thanks to brilliant planning by designers. While it's primarily a domestic airport—a hub for Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Skymark Airlines, Air Do, Solaseed Air, and StarFlyer—the opening of an international terminal and the construction of a fourth runway in 2010 gave Haneda legs in the long-haul flight game.

It's closer to downtown than Narita—it'll take about 30 minutes to get to Tokyo Station via metro. SkyTrax voted this airport the top domestic airport in the world in 2019, given its great dining and shopping options.

Narita International Airport (NRT)

Narita Airport
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  • Location: Narita
  • Pros: Main international airport in Japan; excellent facilities
  • Cons: Far from the city center
  • Distance to Shinjuku: A taxi will take 60 to 90 minutes, depending on traffic, and it can cost some $200. Instead, take the Narita Express (N'EX) train—it's $30 for the 53-minute ride.

Though it handled only 42.6 million passengers in 2018—less than half of Haneda's traffic—Narita is Japan's primary international airport, with dozens of airlines flying routes that connect Japan to destinations around the world. While the airport has great facilities (SkyTrax ranked it the ninth best international airport in the world in 2019), its greatest downfall is that it's 40 miles outside of Tokyo proper. Taxis are prohibitively expensive for the average traveler; most people take the train or the bus, which takes an hour or so.

Kansai International Airport (KIX)

Kansai Airport, Japan
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  • Location: An artificial island about 24 miles southwest of Osaka
  • Pros: Numerous flights; easy to navigate
  • Cons: Far from the city center
  • Distance to Osaka Station: A 45-minute taxi costs about $165. You can also take a 70-minute train ride for about $11.

For Kansai International Airport, engineers constructed an artificial island in Osaka Bay some 24 miles southwest of Osaka. The entire complex reportedly cost $20 billion, a good portion of which went to stabilizing the island, as it began sinking at a rate of 20 inches per year. (As of February 2019, it sinks about 2.6 inches per year.) The airport is a crucial one for the region with 28 million passengers flying through it in 2018, including a large number of foreign visitors. Though it's a bit far from the city center, it's connected via an easy and affordable train.

Chubu Centrair International Airport (NGO)

Chubu Centrair International Airport, Nagoya, Japan
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  • Location: Tokoname
  • Pros: Beautifully designed facilities; great shopping and dining pre-security (the area is open to the public)
  • Cons: Post-security shopping and dining options are limited
  • Distance to Kanayama Station: A 45-minute taxi costs about $135. A 30-minute train ride costs about $12.

Central Japan International Airport, Centrair, located on an artificial island near Tokoname, served 12 million passengers in It's about 30 minutes to Nagoya by train and 45-minutes by car. The airport is home to a shopping center that's open to the public, making it a bustling destination. Do all your shopping and dining before you head through security, as there are far fewer options once you cross over to the airside. But the airport is thoughtfully designed—unsurprising for Japan.

Hiroshima Airport (HIJ)

Hiroshima Airport
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  • Location: Mihara
  • Pros: Few crowds; clean facilities; great food selection
  • Cons: There are fewer routes here than at the busier Japanese airports; no train connection to Hiroshima
  • Distance to Downtown Hiroshima: A 45-minute taxi costs about $130. A bus takes just under an hour and costs about $12.

Located about 30 miles west of Hiroshima proper, this airport is a smaller international airport, serving just 2.7 million people in 2018. The vast majority of its flights are to Tokyo's Haneda airport, but it does offer service to China, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. The unusual thing about this airport is that it's not serviced by a train line—you'll have to take the bus to downtown Hiroshima, and it takes almost an hour. That said, the airport is hardly crowded, and it has phenomenal facilities, including great dining options.

New Chitose Airport (CTS)

ASDF Boeing 747-400 taking off at Chitose
Suga/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.5
  • Location: Bibi
  • Pros: Largest airport in Hokkaido; great shopping and dining
  • Cons: Can get very crowded
  • Distance to Downtown Sapporo: A 50-minute taxi will cost about $140. A 37-minute train costs about $10.

This airport sits between Chitose and Tomakomai, about 30 miles from Sapporo. As the largest, busiest airport in Hokkaido, it served 22.7 million passengers in 2017, primarily to destinations within Japan, but also to China, South Korea, Singapore, and the United States (to Hawaii), among other countries. While it has a number of restaurants and shops to entertain travelers, its star feature is a rooftop onsen.

Kumamoto Airport (KMJ)

Aso Kumamoto Airport
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  • Location: Mashiki
  • Pros: Small, clean airport
  • Cons: Limited routes
  • Distance to Downtown Kumamoto: A 50-minute taxi will cost about $50. There's also a public bus that takes about an hour and costs about $7.50.

Though there are only a handful of domestic and international routes, flights are frequent, making this one of the busier of Japan's regional airports: In 2015, 3.2 million passengers made their way through its terminal. But its relatively small size makes it easy to navigate, and as is typical with buildings in Japan, it's very well maintained. There's no train to the airport—you'll have to take a bus or a taxi.

Sendai International Airport (SDJ)

Sendai International Airport
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  • Location: Natori
  • Pros: New and improved facilities rebuilt after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami
  • Cons: Limited dining and shopping
  • Distance to Downtown Sendai: A 30-minute taxi will cost about $60. The train takes 25 minutes and costs about $8.

Located in the city of Natori, Sendai International Airport is just about a half hour from downtown Sendai. It handled 3.2 million passengers in 2015, most of whom flew on domestic routes, though there are flights to China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Thailand, too. The airport was severely damaged in the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami when floodwaters inundated the runway and terminal—it was renovated within two months of the disaster.

Nagasaki Airport (NGS)

Nagasaki airport (NGS) in Japan
Taro Hama @ e-kamakura / Getty Images
  • Location: Ōmura
  • Pros: Small and easy to navigate
  • Cons: Limited routes
  • Distance to Downtown Nagasaki: A 35-minute taxi will cost about $90. A bus takes 45 minutes and costs about $9.50.

Some three million people travel through Nagasaki Airport annually (3.1 million in 2015, to be exact), most of whom fly on the nearly 20 daily flights to Tokyo's Haneda. The airport is small, clean, and easy to get around, and it has a number of shops, restaurants, and an observation deck to entertain passengers.

Fukuoka Airport (FUK)

  • Location: Hakata Ward
  • Pros: Extremely close to the city center; many major international routes
  • Cons: Can get crowded at the check-in counters
  • Distance to Downtown Fukuoka: A 15-minute taxi will cost about $13. The airport has its own subway station—a ride costs about $2.50 and takes just five minutes.

The largest airport on the island of Kyushu, Fukuoka served 21 million passengers in 2015. It has two terminals—one domestic and one international—flying to destinations across Japan and Asia, plus a route to Hawaii as of November 2019. Unlike many Japanese airports, Fukuoka is extremely close to the city center, with the subway ride taking just five minutes.

Naha Airport (OKA)

  • Location: Southwest Naha
  • Pros: Numerous routes
  • Cons: Can get crowded at the check-in counters
  • Distance to Downtown Naha: A 10-minute taxi will cost about $13. A 15-minute monorail ride brings you to downtown Naha for only $2.

Serving 18.3 million passengers to and from both domestic and international destinations in 2015, Naha Airport is the largest air facility in Okinawa Prefecture. The airport is close to the city center, with a monorail connecting the airport, downtown points, and Shuri Station, the main train station in the city.

Osaka International Airport (ITM)

  • Location: Itami
  • Pros: Easy to navigate
  • Cons: Not much to do in the way of shopping and dining
  • Distance to Downtown Osaka: A 20-minute taxi will cost about $50. You can take a combination of the monorail and subway, which costs about $6 and takes some 25 minutes, or you can take a bus, which takes about 30 minutes and also costs about $6.

Also known as Itami Airport, Osaka International Airport is actually a domestic-only airport—the international airport is Kansai. It's not the most beautiful airport in Japan, but it's very functional. It does, however, have limited shopping and dining facilities. In 2015, it served 14.5 million passengers.

Kagoshima Airport (KOJ)

  • Location: Kirishima
  • Pros: Small and easy to navigate
  • Cons: The single line at security can back up
  • Distance to Downtown: A 45-minute taxi will cost about $92. A 50-minute bus ride will cost about $11.50.

Though this airport has just 10 gates (nine domestic, one international), it served 5.2 million passengers in 2015. There are nearly 30 flights to Tokyo Haneda daily, making it the major route at the airport, but there are also flights to South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

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