As a traveling freelancer, it’s inevitable that you’ll spend some time working from airports. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the pleasant opportunity to work out of Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT), which is one of the better international airports I’ve ever used as a virtual office. My recent adventure home from Thailand was a doozy when it came to waiting in airports: 2 hours in Krabi airport (KBV), 1 hour in Don Mueang (DMK), 8 hours in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK), and 10 hours in Narita. I didn’t find working in Thailand’s airports very feasible due to the lack of free WiFi; even BKK will only permit users an hour of free WiFi before asking for payment.
Narita on the other hand was a fantastic place to spend my 10 hour layover. I had briefly considered spending my layover exploring Tokyo, but after learning how high the taxi fare into the city was, not to mention the travel time and the cost of buying things in Japan, I decided to see how I fared spending the day in Narita. Upon landing in Japan at 8:00am, I made a beeline for the day rooms and showers in Terminal 1 that I had seen on an earlier layover in Narita. I wish every airport had day rooms like this.
While not particularly large or fancy, Narita’s day rooms give you the bare essentials of a private bathroom with a stand up shower, a small desk, and a rather comfy twin bed. It’s a windowless room, but considering the fact that you’re charged by the hour, it’s best to use these day rooms to clean up and get some shut eye. If you crave natural lighting and ambience, there’s plenty of that around Narita’s terminals.
I spent 3 hours in the day room, showering for part of that time and catching a restful 2.5 hour nap. When my 3 hours were over, a soothing bell rang softly in my room, alerting me that my time was up. All in all, it was a great experience that I paid about $10USD an hour for. My age must be showing when I pay for this kind of comfort rather than stretching out on airport chairs like most other backpackers and travelers do. The only thing that would make these day rooms better would be if they had overnight options for those stranded long-term, as the day rooms and showers are only open from 06:00-21:00. I should also note that the airline I flew (ANA) didn’t offer compensation for using the day rooms, but the price was low enough (and I was tired enough) that I didn’t mind footing the bill for some extra peace and quiet.
Upon exiting the comfort of the day rooms, it wasn’t hard to wander around Narita’s compact Terminal 1 and find things to do. There is fantastic duty free shopping for everything including cute Japanese souvenirs, inventive trinkets, high fashion items, and beautifully packaged sweet treats to bring home as omiyage (gifts). The shopping area in Terminal 1 isn’t as large and overwhelming as those in BKK or Seoul Incheon (ICN), but perhaps that’s just because I didn’t venture outside of this one terminal. Food-wise, there are also little coffee shops and places to get great Japanese food such as curry, udon, and rice bowls.
After getting a snack and doing some shopping, I then wandered around Terminal 1 and found several other comfortable places to set up shop and do some work on the laptop. Narita has fabulous WiFi that is fast, reliable, and free, and there are lots of lounges, fun seating areas, and even desks here and there to plug in your laptop and do some work.
Overall, if you’re traveling to or through Asia, I highly recommend going through Tokyo Narita, especially if there’s a longer layover in your itinerary. It’s a great place to relax and spend a few hours, and it doesn’t have the crazy hustle and bustle that most other Asian airports do.