It’s been two years since the opening of the Haneda Airport International Terminal. Although there aren’t many opportunities to visit this terminal unless you’re going abroad, it has plenty to do other than just waiting for flights. From rainbow-colored ceilings to cafes with their own planetariums, today I’d like to share with you the Haneda Airport International Terminal’s best spots to kill time while waiting for your flights.
The Rainbow Colored Ceiling and the Avenue of Lights in the International Departure Lobby
The international departure terminal is holding the “Haneda Sky illumination” until February 16th. The supervisor is none other than Satoshi Uchihara, known for his work in illuminating popular places like Roppongi, Omotesando, and Kyoto’s Kinkakuji (the golden pavilion). His ability to control the lights in such a spectacular way is sure to leave a lasting impression.
When you enter the departure lobby, you’ll find many trees of light in front of your eyes. At first glance, you may even mistake them for real trees planted in the terminal. The Edo Market Place on the fourth floor, which emulates an Edo-era (Tokuguawa Shogunate-era) town, has an avenue lined with even more lit trees to welcome you. The best part is the colorfully-lit ceiling which covers the entire lobby. The colors change every few seconds, sometimes showing a dark blue night sky as seen in the picture, while other times showing brighter colors like a beautiful pink to represent the sunset. The space is so magical that you may even think you’ve stumbled upon a theme park! It’s even fun just sitting and watching the colors change, and there are plenty of benches around for you to do so. Also, the nice warm temperature they maintain inside is quite appealing… be careful that you don’t doze off and miss your flight!
A planetarium in the airport!?
TOKYO POP TOWN, located on the 5th floor, is almost like a mini-amusement park with all of its fun spots. The most attractive part of all, however, is the “PLANETARIUM Starry cafe,” which features its own planetarium for you to enjoy as you sip at your tea. You may be thinking: “Well it’s probably just the same starry sky playing over and over,” but their program has enough material to keep you entertained for the whole day. From the Greek mythology behind the names of constellations, to the night sky seen on various flights from Haneda Airport –all complete with their wonderful soundtrack for your star gazing pleasure- you’ll feel as if you’re on top of a mountain somewhere. Check out the link below to find their program.
Between programs they show scenes from different parts of the world, so travelers can start feeling their vacation even before boarding their flight. Other than the small lights each table comes equipped with, the lights are dimmed inside. It’s the perfect place to relax.
Slot Car Racing for People of All Ages
Inside the TOY PARK, also found in the middle of TOKYO POP TOWN, is a slot car racing establishment! The slot cars are free to use, and it is only 200 JPY per 5 minutes to race. Why not take your slot car for a spin on this 50m-long, 10-lane mini circuit? If you have a slot car you particularly enjoy, you can even purchase it as a souvenir.
Only Available in Haneda Airport: Hello Kitty Daifuku
Next up is “Hello Kitty Japan,” the must-see store for all Hello Kitty lovers. The cute, kimono-clad Hello Kitty is there to greet you. Though they have loads of Hello Kitty paraphernalia, the one thing that catches the attention of anyone, not just Hello Kitty fans, is the “Hello Kitty Cream Daifuku” (Daifuku is mochi with a sweet filling), only available at Haneda Airport. With cream fillings made from custard, green tea, chocolate, cheese, strawberry, and sesame, mixed with a sweet red bean paste, it makes a sort of east-meets-west collaboration. Don’t be turned off by its packaging; have a bite. The soft mochi exterior and the filling that is just sweet enough is perfect for gifts or a light snack!
Hello Kitty Cream Daifuku: 180 JPY a piece
The Observation Deck Looking Out on Domestic Flights
Last but not least is the observation deck! At the end of TOKYO POP TOWN, you’ll find a path with lit railings on both sides, resembling a runway. With a long sofa for people to sit down, it’s a nice place to take a little break. At the end of this hall you’ll find the entrance to the observation deck. If you go during a clear day, you can even see Mt. Fuji!
At night it all becomes quite romantic, watching the planes take off and land on the trails of light that are the runways. The only lighting in the observation deck are the ones along the floor, so you can enjoy the views of the night. And of course, it’s great that you get that panorama of the domestic terminals and the control tower. There are plenty of benches for people, so as long as you don’t mind the cold you can stay out there as long as you want enjoying the night.
Make Use of their Free Shuttle Bus
To get between the 1st and 2nd domestic terminals and the international terminal, be sure to use their free shuttle bus. There is one every 5 minutes, and it is only a 5~7 minute ride. In Terminal 1 you wait at the 8th stop of the first floor, and in Terminal 2 you want to wait at the 9th stop of the first floor.
Even if you’re not flying anywhere, there’s still plenty to enjoy at the Haneda Airport International Terminal! Be sure to check it out while the light show lasts!
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