You’ve Arrived at Haneda: What Now?
Now that newly expanded Haneda Airport offers good access to central Tokyo, it’s easier than ever to enjoy the city’s various faces, from the newest spots to old-fashioned neighborhoods exuding a sense of history. Here are suggestions for mini-travels in Japan originating from Haneda. Please note that travel times given are approximate and may vary, depending on traffic conditions.
Recommended Sightseeing Spots
If you arrived early in the morning, how about a sushi breakfast at Tsukiji?
The Tsukiji Market is the huge wholesale market that feeds Tokyo. Covering an area of 230,000 square meters, it has a daily turnover of 3,300 tons of fish and vegetables valued at two billion yen.
The inner market has 38 sushi restaurants and 35 stores selling various products, all of which serve tourists. Shops do tend to close around 1:30 p.m., so plan accordingly. Visitors are allowed to tour the market but should take care not to interfere with operations (see here for rules pertaining to visitors at Tsukiji).
The outer market, which consists mainly of retailers, hums with activity from early morning. It’s a maze of lanes with 400 shops selling everything from fresh fish to dried marine products, fish paste dumplings, fresh meat, kitchen tools and so on. There are lots of sushi and domburi (rice bowl with savory topping) restaurants, some of which operate 24 hours a day.
Take the Keikyu Line Airport Limited Express/Subway Asakusa Line from Haneda Airport International Terminal Station to Daimon Station (travel time 22 min.); transfer there to the Subway Oedo Line and get off at Tsukijishijo Station (5 min.). Or, 10 min. on foot from Subway Asakusa Line Higashi-ginza Station.
Feel the echoes of Edo with a stroll around Asakusa
Asakusa is the Tokyo neighborhood that most strongly retains the atmosphere of the Edo period (1603–1868). As the district closest to Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa flourished during the Edo period and vestiges of that old atmosphere can still be discovered here and there today.
Senso-ji Temple, said to have been founded in the seventh century, is Tokyo’s oldest temple and one of the city’s premier attractions, visited by 30 million people a year. Pass under the huge red lantern hanging from the Kaminarimon Gate, the symbol of Asakusa, walk through Japan’s oldest shopping arcade, the Nakamise, and you will soon see the temple’s pagoda soaring into the blue sky.
The Nakamise, the main approach to the temple, stretches 250 meters from the Kaminarimon to the Hozomon, Senso-ji’s inner gate. Said to have sprung up in the 17th century, the Nakamise is made up of 89 shops, 54 on the east side and 35 on the west. With a frontage of four to seven meters, the shops are small but offer a profuse array of merchandise perfect as souvenirs from Japan, ranging from traditional festival wear, Japanese-style umbrellas and geta (wooden clogs) to props for traditional dance and folding fans. Some shops also make Japanese-style sweets on the premises. No matter how often you visit Asakusa, you’re sure to come upon something new every time. Business hours for Nakamise shops are generally 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., although this varies depending on the shop.
Calling all electronics fans and otaku: Akihabara, where the latest trends are there for you to discover
One of the world’s foremost electronics store districts, Akihabara has it all—from huge, glittering emporiums to hole-in-the-wall shops dealing in second-hand items sought by hard-core geeks. In recent years, Akihabara has also become known as the place where anime and video game fans gather and keep up with the latest trends. Akihabara is also popular with foreign visitors and has become firmly established as a prime international tourism spot, and a visit here is a chance to experience cutting-edge Akihabara culture.
Chuo-dori, which runs north to south, is Akihabara’s main street. This is where the large electronics stores, with their bright neon signs, are located, and shops nearby specialize in anime and video games.
Akihabara is also the birthplace of the ever-popular “maid cafés,” where customers dropping in for refreshments are greeted by young women dressed in maid uniforms.
Take the Keikyu Line Airport Limited Express from Haneda Airport International Terminal Station to Shinagawa Station (travel time 13 min.); transfer there to the JR Yamanote Line and get off at Akihabara (15 min.). Or, take the Tokyo Monorail Haneda Express from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho Station (13 min.); transfer there to the JR Yamanote Line and get off at Akihabara Station (10 min.).
Shibuya, where youth culture is born
Ceaselessly originating new fashions and new music, Shibuya is the cradle of Japan’s youth culture. This bustling spot, with innumerable restaurants and stores large and small, is one of the world’s premier entertainment districts, where the young gather around the clock.
Just outside the Hachiko exit of Shibuya Station is Japan’s busiest pedestrian scramble. This “Shibuya-style crossing” was adopted by a busy area of London last year.
To the north of the pedestrian scramble lies Shibuya Center-gai, teeming with the young on their way to the area’s department stores, large variety stores, music shops and restaurants. Nearby are PARCO and Shibuya 109, the fashion buildings that’s female teenagers’ favorite destination for shopping.
Take the Keikyu Line Airport Limited Express from Haneda Airport International Terminal Station to Shinagawa Station (travel time 13 min.); transfer there to the JR Yamanote Line and get off at Shibuya Station (13 min).
Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari: Relax at an onsen (hot springs) theme park
Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari, at Odaiba in the Tokyo Bay area, is Japan’s largest onsen theme park. At this Edo-themed facility, users change into yukata (cotton kimono) during their stay.
Designed for all-day entertainment, this complex has open-air baths, hot stone baths and sand saunas, offers beauty treatments, and has restaurants, gift shops and accommodation facilities. Visitors arriving on an early-morning flight can stop off here for a relaxing bath before heading for a day of sightseeing.
Take the Tokyo Monorail to Tennozu Isle Station; transfer there to the Rinkai Line and get off at Tokyo Teleport Station. From there, board a complimentary shuttle bus to the facility (7 min.). A complimentary shuttle bus is also available from Shinagawa Station, but it is recommended to check the shuttle bus operation schedule beforehand. Another option for getting from Haneda to the Odaiba area is the Keikyu Limousine Bus, which leaves from Haneda approximately every 30 minutes.
Yokohama, 30 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, is a port city. It was one of the ports opened up to the outside world in the 1860s as the Edo shogunate brought Japan’s period of seclusion to an end, and it was here that Japan’s modern era dawned. This city offers both a foreign atmosphere and typical Japanese scenic views, with historic Western-style buildings, a bustling Chinatown with over 500 shops crowded into an area of 0.2 square km, and one of the best Japanese-style gardens in the Kanto area. In the Minato Mirai district, visitors can enjoy a distinctive atmosphere that combines the red brick warehouses of the old port with the cosmopolitan cityscape of futuristic buildings standing against a backdrop of a Ferris wheel and the bridge spanning the harbor.
From Haneda Airport, take the Keikyu Line limited express and get off at Yokohama Station (travel time 30 min.).
Recommended Tour Routes
Here are a number of recommended excursion routes for a casual tour during a layover at Haneda, or whenever the mood strikes you.
Stroll the streets of Harajuku, home of Japanese cutting-edge fashion
The Harajuku-Omotesando-Shibuya area is a dream for fashion lovers, where visitors can browse for everything from second-hand castoffs to high-end brands. Youthful energy keeps the place buzzing.
Haneda Airport → (Keikyu Line + Yamanote Line, 26 min.) → Harajuku Station→ (10 min. on foot) → Omotesando Station → (Subway Ginza Line, 2 min.) → Shibuya Station→ (Yamanote Line + Keikyu Line, 23 min.) → Haneda Airport
Enjoy fresh sushi in Tsukiji; tour the home of high-end shopping and finish with a walk in a traditional neighborhood
Treat yourself to delicious sushi at the Tsukiji Market, followed by a stroll down Ginza, renowned for its premium brand stores, and through Asakusa, the neighborhood around Senso-ji Temple.
Haneda Airport → (Keikyu Line/Subway Asakusa Line + Subway Oedo Line, 27 min.) → Tsukijishijo Station → (10 min. on foot) → Ginza Station (Subway Ginza Line, 16 min.) → Asakusa Station → (Subway Asakusa Line + Keikyu Line, 35 min.) → Haneda Airport
Combination tour—from cutting-edge fashion to Edo culture
After shopping at the malls in Odaiba, enjoy views of Tokyo from sightseeing boats on the Sumida River. In Asakusa, enjoy walking around a neighborhood still rich with the echoes of yesteryear.
Haneda Airport → (Tokyo Monorail + Rinkai Line, 50 min.; or limousine bus, 40 min.) → Odaiba → (Tokyo Cruise Ship, 50 min.) → Asakusa → (Subway Asakusa Line + Keikyu Line, 35 min.) → Haneda Airport
Note: The above routings indicate actual time in transit only. Double that amount of time should be allotted, to take into account actual sightseeing and rest stops along the way.