By Rey Waters
You’ve checked out of your hotel and now find yourself standing inside Narita International Airport. At the check-in counter, a big sigh and a mumble follows, “All great things must come to an end.” Insert sad face here. I know that parting is such sweet sorrow, but enough of the self-pity. There’s still much to discover here. So, grab your boarding pass, verify flight status, and follow me to experience a few fun things to do at the airport before your departure flight.
Treat yourself first! You’ve spent countless of hours walking around town and were up late last night packing, so how about a massage? Head up to View Square on the 5th Floor and check out the row of Fujiiryoki chairs available for the entire family. Slip off your shoes, sit down, and relax. Enjoy airplanes taking off from this vantage point. The heavenly, 10-minute massage in a large sturdy leather chair is just 200yen. It has all of the bells and whistles you can imagine and believe me, if this experience doesn’t convince you to take the chair home with you then I am speechless. Japanese technology is the best!
Be adventurous! Did you know that the capsule hotel company, nine hours Inc., recently announced its opening this summer at Narita Airport on July 20, 2014? Services include overnight stays, day use, or even just shower use. Rates will vary from 1,000yen to 3,900yen to include male and female facilities. It will be located on the first basement level (B1) of Car Park No. 2 (P2) complex with direct access to Terminal 2. You can make reservations to rest in their futuristic sleeping pods today!
Weather permitting; follow the signs to the Observation Deck. Better yet, follow the planes! Open daily through 9:00pm, step onto the deck for fresh air and soak in the sounds and thrilling views of aircraft taking off and ready for landing. For 100yen, peek through telescopes for a closer look or bring your camera with the long-range zoom lens. Even though a security fence surrounds the deck, there are small, window-like openings for an unobstructed view. You might even notice the photovoltaic panels installed which is part of their commitment to the efficient use of clean, natural energy.
Feeling hungry? Visit the Sky Food Court for your choice of Chinese, Western or Japanese cuisine. In this area, you can still view aircraft, or take a longer walk out to explore the Restaurants & Shops area on the 4th Floor. If you prefer something lighter, there are a few café's that serve really great coffee and desserts you can only find in Japan.
At this point you’re feeling relaxed, kind of stuffed, and looking forward to flying back home. Remember all of the faces that are excited to see you? You might need to pick up a few goodies for them. There are great souvenir shops just around the corner in the Airport Mall. From clothing, to toys, and edible treats, Narita has you covered. A nice gift that most people would be happy to receive is KitKat! Japan carries flavors you can’t find anywhere else in the world and if you weren’t able to visit the world’s first KitKat Chocolatory in Ikebukuro, don’t worry. You'll be pleasantly surprised with the variety they carry in shops like Omori.
Still have extra time to spare before heading to passport control? Other interesting areas are the Silent Zoo light show near the main escalator, the NAA Art Gallery, or sit by the zen water fountain and simply people watch. Browse through the official floor guide and make visiting Narita International Airport your best experience yet. Sayonara!
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Originally from San Diego, California, I lived in Japan for 4-1/2 years and now I am currently based out of Honolulu, Hawaii. In December 2010, I arrived in Yokosuka with a new outlook on my future. Mainly, to refocus on family and let my curiosities take us to places we’ve only dreamt of. Along the way, we’d hopefully develop new friendships and simply collect memories to last a lifetime. Then, there was the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. I will never forget that experience and the devastating effects it had on the entire country. I asked the community, “What can I do to help?” Collecting, sorting, and packing donations, was the least I could do. I also ended up going back to California for one month, raised a small monetary donation for Red Cross, and secured a few phone interviews to help spread the word on how others from the United States could assist. I was determined to show my family, friends, and folks across the world that it would be okay to return to Japan. After all, I wanted them to know that all of the little things that make up this beautiful country still existed. What better way than to use a platform such as JapanTravel.com to share photos and stories full of life, history, and culture. It is a pleasure to say I have contributed more than 150 articles to a database that now collectively holds more than 15,000! This journey has not only allowed me to realize my initial goals, but I’d like to think that it has somehow played a role in sparking an interest locally and across the globe for others to experience all that is published here and more. I invite you to also share your wonderful stories, offer comments, and ask questions right here on JapanTravel. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com. Safe travels! ٩( ๑╹ ꇴ╹)۶