Narita International Airport

Unusual airplane sightings

Perfect timing?

Yamaguchi Akira

Credit: Yamaguchi Akira

Yamaguchi Akira’s incredibly detailed “Narita International Airport: Various Curious Scenes of Airplanes, 2005” is among the artwork in a new exhibit at New York City’s Japan Society featuring the work of sixteen emerging and mid-career artists “whose paintings, objects, photographs, videos, and installations meld traditional styles with challenging visions of Japan’s troubled present and uncertain future.” The show is called “Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art” and there’s a really lovely slideshow of the exhibit on the New York Times.

While we’re staring at airplanes, here’s a snapshot of Boeing’s new sunrise-liveried Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental airplane, which took its first flight today, March 20, 2011.

Boeing 747-8 Interncontinental

Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental takes its first flight

Boeing has nice video of the event as does my buddy David Parker Brown over at

And, while we’re ogling pretty airplane paint jobs, here’s a pink airplane that will fly for Azul, a budget airline in Brazil, to promote breast cancer awareness.

Azul pink plane promotes breast cancer awareness

Souvenir Sunday: treats from Narita Int’l Airport

It’s Souvenir Sunday: the day we take a look at some of the fun, inexpensive, “of” a city items for sale at airports.

This week’s treats come from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.

This sumo wrestler doll caught my eye –

Narita Airport doll

As did these dainty containers filled with face cream:

Narita Airport Face Cream

But my pick for Souvenir Sunday this week is this timeless gag gift.

Proof – in any language – that corny is universal.

Narita Airport "pull my finger" gag gift

Snack Saturday at Haneda Airport’s new International Terminal

Ever since the opening of Narita International Airport (NRT) back in 1978, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport has been used for predominantly domestic flights within Japan and some charter flights within Asia.

But as of Thursday, October 21, 2010, Haneda Airport has a new runway and a brand new International Terminal that’s filled with shiny new arrival and departures halls, gleaming gate areas, and dozens of new restaurants and shops.

Haneda Airport new International Terminal

An increased schedule of international flights to North America, Europe and Asia begins on October 31st.

The big advantage of flying into Haneda Airport will be the time you’ll save getting to and from Tokyo.  By express train, it’s an hour’s ride from Narita Airport to Tokyo.

From Haneda, you can get to town on a monoral or a train in about 20 minutes.

Haneda Airport monorail station

The other advantage: Haneda’s International Terminal is brand new.

Brand New Haneda Airport International Terminal

I was on site for opening day inspecting the restaurants, the shops and the new amenities along with what seemed to be at least half the population of Japan.

 Visting Haneda Airport's new International Terminal

Several hundred people lined up as early as 3 in the morning to be among the first to ride the new monorail connection to the airport.  And throughout the day thousands of what the airlines certainly hope will be future passengers made their way out to the terminal just to take a look around.

They visited the outdoor observation deck. Even though it was raining and there wasn’t much you could see.

Observation Deck Haneda Int'l Terminal

They cheered on the cars zipping around the airport’s slot car racetrack.

Haneda Airport race track

They bought Hello Kitty souvenirs in a Hello Kitty store that a father of two young Hello Kitty fans assured me was among the most-well stocked Hello Kitty stores he’s seen.

Hello Kitty store Haneda Airport

And they waited patiently to be among the first to have a meal in brand new airport eateries that range from a pizzeria with a brick oven to a French café and a restaurant where sushi is delivered via conveyor belt.

Around lunch time, I joined one of the longest lines at the airport. The one where people were waiting to order green-tea soft swirl from the newest branch of Kyo Hayashiya, a sweets vendor that has its roots in a teahouse established in 1753.

And like this woman who was buying ice cream for herself and a friend, I sat and ate the swirled, sweet treat while contemplating future adventures that might start at this sparkling new airport.

Happy customer at Haneda Airport International Terminal

There’s lots more to share about the amenities at Haneda’s International Terminal – and the two domestic terminals, which are quite swanky.

But in the meantime, here are links to the opening day reports from two travel colleagues, Airline Reporter David Brown and Jaunted’s Cynthia Drescher.