Tokyo Narita Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

The next new guide is online. Our member Maxmilian made a stop during his Japan trip at Tokyos International airport Narita a wrote a small guide with a total of three spotting locations. The airport is responsible for almost all International flights and you will see almost every popular carrier serving NRT.New Tokyo International Airport (RJAA / NRT), commonly known as Narita, was constructed in the 1970ies to take over international services from Haneda Airport. Up to now, Narita handles the majority of overseas operations out of the Tokyo-Yokohama region. Within the last years, the number of domestic services increased as well. NRT is located approx. 60 km northwest of Tokyo in the city of Narita in Chiba prefecture. As the road access is often congested you should calculate at least 1 hour of travel by car.

Japan’s second biggest airport is the international hub for both ANA and JAL. Other local operators include home carrier and ANA subsidiary Vanilla Air as well as Jetstar Japan, Skymark and Spring Airlines Japan. The major carriers of the Far East serve the airport as well as various smaller Chinese and Korean operators. Long Haul operators include Air France (A380), Alitalia (777), Austrian (777), BA, Finnair (A340), KLM (747/777), Lufthansa (A340/380 and 747), SAS (A340) and Virgin (A340) from Europe, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad and Turkish Airlines from the Middle East as well as Aircalin (A330), Air New Zealand, Qantas and Jetstar from Oceania. Most important carriers from the U.S. are Delta and United with many flights per day and several aircraft types to various destinations. American and Air Canada also serve NRT on a daily basis or even more often.

Good weather is common at this airport, but during the hot summer months you sometimes have to face misty conditions or heat distortion.

Written by Maximilian Ono and Gary Culpan / Visited March 2014

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Airport Information    Runways 16L/34R 16R/34L
2.500m 4.000m
Terminals Terminal 1 Terminal 2
Star Alliance, Sky Team Oneworld
Spotting Information Ladder Not required
Car Required for Spots 1 and 3.
Restrooms Inside terminal buildings and at Spot 1 (possibly also at Spot 2)
Drinks/Food Inside terminal buildings.
Hotels There are various hotels around the airport.
Season Spotting is possible all year long.
Runway Usage  16L/34R for approx. 50% of landings and few departures
16R/34L for approx.. 50% of landings and most departures

Spot #1 – Sakura no oka – Runway 34L arrivals and Runway 16R departures
WHERE Possibly this place is also accessible by bus, but I know just the way by car: Coming from the Airport or from Tokyo, leave the Expressway at Narita Junction and follow Route 44 facing southeast, then take Route 62 southbound. When you reach Sanrizuka, turn left into Route 106. The road makes a right turn following the airport fence. After the right turn, follow the street some minutes until you see a viewing hill on the right hand side. Turn right immediately after the hill and park your car next to the other visitors.
WHAT When runway direction 34 is active, you can see all movements except for departures on runway 34R. The hill is located next to the Runway 34L glidepath antenna, so it is mainly useful for spotting approaches to this runway. Lineups of departing planes on this runway are also visible, but they can’t get photographed properly because of electric wire lines in front. Runway 34R approaches are visible in the distance only (approx.. 2-3 km away).
If Runway direction 16 is active, you can spot longhaul take-offs on Runway 16R. Other departing planes will be too high while 16R arrivals will have left the runway before coming in sight.
TIME Best light conditions are in the afternoon and early evening. In the morning, movements on the runway are in backlight.
MISCELLANEOUS Bring food and drinks with you as I don’t know if there is any shop around. Various benches and seating opportunities are located on the hill. Restrooms are located nearby, next to the parking facilities. Note the electric wire lines in front of the runway and try to spot approaches before the wires get in the way.
FOCAL LENGTH 250mm for 737, 130mm for 747 / A380 on final approach runway 34L. Runway 34R is too far away.

 Spot #2 – Terminal 1 Observation deck – 16R/34L arrivals and departures, movements on T1 apron
WHERE Landside on the Rooftop of Terminal 1
WHAT You can see and spot all movements on Runway 16R/34L from here as well as movements on the apron in front of Terminal 1. Terminal 2 and the other runway are not visible from here.
TIME Best light conditions are in the morning until 11:00. In the afternoon, movements on the runway are in backlight.
MISCELLANEOUS Shops and restrooms inside the terminal, possibly also on the terrace itself.
FOCAL LENGTH Below 50mm for planes on the apron. Longer lenses are required for planes on taxiways and the runway.
Spot #3 – Sakura no yama park – 16R arrivals and 34L departures
WHERE Possibly this place is also accessible by bus, but I know just the way by car: Coming from the Airport or from Tokyo, leave the Expressway at Narita Junction and follow Route 44 in southeast direction. Stay on Route 44 when it makes a left turn. Shortly before you reach the airport fence, you can park your car to the left.
WHAT Runway 16R arrivals.
TIME Best light conditions are in the afternoon and early evening. In the morning, approaches are in backlight.
MISCELLANEOUS There is a small supermarket next to the park. The spot is in walking distance to the Marroad Hotel (10 minutes walk).
Spot #4 – Terminal 2 Observation Deck – Apron and 34R arrivals
WHERE Located on the 4th floor of Terminal 2. The terrace is splitted into two parts and you have to walk into the terminal to get from one side to the other. The deck is surrounded in mesh but have holes to poke lenses through.
WHAT Terminal 2 apron movements and RWY 34R arrivals.
TIME Best light conditions are after lunchtime until evening.
MISCELLANEOUS All usual food outlets are in the terminal.
FOCAL LENGTH Lens range from just 50mm to 300mm

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7 thoughts on “Tokyo Narita Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

  1. Michael

    Thanks for the great Spotting Guide! But I think there is a Mistake in the Text. On the Map it seems there is a Car useful for Spots 1 and 3 and not for Spot 2 as attached in the Text.

  2. Rick

    There’s a spot at the Museum for Aeronautical Sciences – you’ll need to pay 500 yen, but you can be in an airconditioned room filming 34L Landings/16R Departures.

    I can provide photos if need be.

  3. Kevin

    Edit for Spot 3:
    There a small supermarket next to the park now (only Japanese everything) but you will find some drinks, snacks and ice there. Also possible to walk from Marroad Hotel (10min walk).

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