Haneda Layover Guide: Ideas for Getting a Short-Term Taste of Tokyo

Lily Crossley-Baxter

Closer to Tokyo but with fewer facilities than Narita, Haneda Airport is a mixed bag—but you can make the most of your time there with some tricks in our Haneda layover guide.

Haneda layover
Photo by Suneko used under CC

Ok, so it’s not Narita. There are no traditional performances or organized day trips—so unless you leave the building, your time here will be pretty standard. The benefit of location is a pretty good silver lining though, if you can take advantage of it. Sixty-six countries have the right to enter without a visa for a short stay, and some for 15 days—so check here to see your status. You can also apply for one-day tourist visas at the airport (depending on your passport country), so you can avoid the cabin pressure of the international departure terminal. Then you can head out to local Ota or Tokyo and be at the famous Shibuya Crossing in 30 minutes—but make sure you have plenty of time to get back of course.

Short layover: Staying local in Ota

If your Haneda layover is on the longer side and you have the necessary paperwork to enter Japan but maybe not enough time to explore Tokyo, Ota is the answer. The area is Tokyo’s largest ward and has some great highlights which allow you to experience Japan with a short time limit. Kamata is the main hub of Ota and has plenty of tiny restaurants down busy alleys as well as izakaya and bars—ideal if you have an evening stopover. Two great options if you are on a time-limited layover here are:

The Morning Wholesale Market

Ota has some great highlights which allow you to experience Japan within a short time limit. If you arrive early you can head to the biggest fruit and veg market in Japan which starts at 7am. The market has a visitors center and a fishery exhibit along with plenty of restaurants where you can enjoy the freshest of ingredients. The market opens at 5am until 3pm and is closed on Sundays and national holidays.


New Video: A Cheapo's Day Trip Guide to Kamakura

Kamakura is a coastal city famous for its rich history, numerous Buddhist shrines and temples, scenic views and beaches.


Access: Take the monorail to Ryutsu Center Station, catch a bus (9 minutes) from the front of the Ryutsu Center to Ota Shijo Building.

Soak in an onsen

Luckily, arrival time is not an issue with Heiwajima Onsen as this natural hot spring is open 24 hours a day. There are a wide range of traditional baths and the facility is modern, with hot stone saunas, carbonate baths, and more—all using the natural spring water. The only issue is that the shuttle bus must be reserved 12 hours in advance to use the spa, but this service is offered in many languages. They run late-night and early-morning buses, so this is a great option if you find yourself stuck after trains finish. There are two options: overnight use allows the customer to stay until 2pm the following day and breakfast is included. (There are free shuttle buses back to the airport as well.) The second option is the Flight Course where you can arrive at 6pm and be taken to the airport during the night. These options can be combined for layovers. Reservations cost 3,500 yen including bus, facility use and breakfast.

If you have limited time, but don't want to miss seeing Japan's enchanting former captial Kyoto, then this bullet train day trip is for you. click here for details
 Suggested Activity 

Longer layover – Take a trip into Tokyo

Thanks to a handy train line and great location, you can see a lot of the main sights pretty easily. However, trains do stop around midnight, and don’t run until around 5am—so make sure to check our transport guide for more information to avoid getting stuck.

asakusa hotel
Photo by Elena Gurzhiy used under CC

Here are some of the main sights:

You could, for example, head to Asakusa (26 minutes by train) for an hour or two, then go to Shinjuku (30 minutes) for the view, then to Harajuku (5 minutes) and finish in Shibuya (3 minutes) all within 4-5 hours and then 40 minutes back to Haneda.

Other options include catching the bus to Oedo Onsen Monogatari—the night-time Shinagawa buses head here, but be sure to check your specific bus. The onsen has large baths, both indoor and outdoor as well as an Edo-themed hall with food stands and traditional games.



Staying in – Domestic transfers/short stays

Haneda
Photo by Herry used under CC

If your break is short, you’re on a domestic transfer or you are too tired to deal with being a tourist, you can while away your hours in Haneda, in relative comfort. You can still experience a taste of Japan (mainly through food) and get yourself organized for your destination using the services available.

Lounges – Relax With a Paper

Photo by Miki Yoshihito used under CC

There are three lounges in Terminal 1 and three in Terminal 2—sounds like a lot of lounges right? Maybe it is. The problem with these is they are only day lounges—so you can only use them between 6am and 8pm. All are paid entry and two in each terminal are beyond the departure gates, so can only be used by those waiting to board. All offer drinks and magazines and a “relaxing atmosphere”.  There is a free lounge as part of the Discovery Museum, where you can enjoy local art pieces and a sofa—but no other amenities.

Restaurants – Try some local cuisine

Both terminals have a wide range of food available, including traditional Japanese dishes and international options too. There are organic cafes in Terminal 1 along with familiar faces like Starbucks and plenty of curry, ramen, sushi and soba places.

Haneda Shops
Photo by Andy used under CC

Times change with each place, most opening from 6am until 8pm, with a few options open until 10pm. Curry Smile and Marufuku Coffee shop are open until 10:30pm, and only Pronto is open later, closing at 11pm. After that, you’re on your own. In Terminal 2 it’s a similar story, plenty of options but most close at or before 10pm. Two soba shops and the Tokyo airport restaurant are open until 10:30pm.



For late arrivals, the Flyers Table in Terminal 2 is open from 5am until 1am with the last order at 12:30am—so if you’re starving then the prices might be worth it. They have a breakfast buffet, à la carte options throughout the day and both Western and Japanese course menus.

Shops and services – Get yourself organized

Whether you’re heading for another spot in Japan or leaving for good you might have some organizing to do, be it of your itinerary, life or hair. Luckily there are plenty of handy services available so you can make the most of your time.

  • Free charging stations on B1F of both terminals and plenty of coin-operated computer points to access the internet. Wifi is available throughout the airport.
  • Shoeshines, cobblers and laundry services (although the latter takes 4 days, so that may be an odd choice).
  • Hairdressers and barbers as well as the Plaza store which offers a range of beauty goods.
  • Relaxation lounges—there are four to choose from, including aromatherapy, massage and reflexology with 15-minute short courses available.
  • Showers are available in private rooms at just over 1,000 yen for 30 minutes—you get a bathroom with sink and amenities like towels and shower gel, as well as a hairdryer. It may not sound much, but it can be a lifesaver after a night spent on a bench.

Hotels – Sleep it off

There is definitely no where to sleep in Haneda if you arrive late—and those benches are not comfortable, take it from me. The airport has plenty of hotels with later check-ins accepted and there are many hotels and hostels nearby—although do check  the latest check-in times. One reasonable and nice option is Haneda First Cabin. There is a transit hotel available too, which does not require immigration procedures.

Families – Keep the kids happy

Haneda
Photo by Mr Hayata used under CC

There is a children’s cafe lounge in Terminal 1 with a play area and shop—sure to provide a good distraction for a while if needed. The food court in Terminal 1 has a choice of 6 restaurants to choose from, including Japanese, Italian and Chinese and may be a good all-round crowd-pleaser option when people are too tetchy for restaurant atmospheres and just want pizza. There is a small stamp trail in the airport, with leaflets offering spaces for each different design—it’s not much, but who doesn’t love a stamp? If they need to run around and let off steam, the rooftop observation deck is a good spot, with great views of the planes and lots of space (with plenty of barriers) to run amok. Despite its un-fun name, Juveniland has a series of displays of old-fashioned toys which may be interesting to slightly older kids.

Hourly daycare is available at the Ange Nursery School in Terminal 1, but must be booked two days in advance. You can rent strollers from both terminals and there are baby-changing facilities all over the airport.

Staying in – International transfers

If you do not have the time or paperwork to leave the departure zones, there are facilities available. You can stay at the guest rooms connected to the departure lounge on the third floor or stay at the Transit Hotel (The Royal Park Hotel, Haneda) which negates the need for immigration procedures. There are also lounges in each terminal as well as shower facilities and food.

Location Map:


Watch this next

New Video: A Beginner's Guide to Harajuku

For a look into the unique world of Japanese youth culture and fashion, make Harajuku no. 1 on your list of places to visit in Tokyo.




Get our Tokyo Cheapo Hacks direct to your inbox




Recommended hotels located nearby



Questions or comments about this article? Start a thread on our community forum