The full name for the airport otherwise known as Narita

NTIA is host for most international flights to and from Tokyo, with the exception of the city airport Haneda which handles Chinese and domestic traffic.

NTIA is some 60Km from downtown Tokyo. The Keisei Line Express trains (not the Super Express) is the cheapest form of transport to town (at a shade over 1100 Yen), while the bus costs approximately 3000 Yen, but stops at many major hotels.

NTIA is a modern and ultra-clean facility with a wide range of shops, restaurants, and services for the traveller.

If you have a few hours layover, don't miss a visit to the local temple-town of Narita.

If you fly on JAL and stop over at Narita, you'll probably wind up in the Hotel Nikko Narita, the JAL hotel, known as 'the brown hotel' because of the utter brownness of the décor. Here you can eat a vastly overpriced meal, if you like. I prefer to wait for breakfast, which is free, plentiful, and comes in Japanese and English varieties.
You can also steal the rather nice yukata they leave in your room. If you are so inclined, there's pay-per-view Japanese porn in your room and a massage service (which I never dared try)..
Also the Hotel Nikko Narita Winds, generally known as 'the beige hotel' - beiger, slightly tackier, but virtually identical.
I dread this airport every time I have to go through it. Since the early 1990's, the terminal that houses gates 40-46 resembles a refugee camp more and more. I passed through on my recent trip, and it was at its worst, and I expect it to get no better. The problem is simply: space. There is none. There are simply too many people trying to depart and this terminal can't handle the volume. There are definitely not enough chairs, and even standing space is running out.

Upon arriving this year, people, many of them haggard-looking from hours of international travel, were everywhere. Some had set up on the ground, in the middle of the floor. It was difficult to walk through. Fortunately, our layover was short, and we didn't have to congest the terminal that much.

That aspect aside, security is very tight, and that is assuring. Traffic also seems moderate, and doesn't seem to cause any delays. However, I very much prefer Osaka/Kansai International Airport as a layover destination since it has plenty more space. Of course, that airport is sinking into the ocean, so hopefully that problem will be rectified, or else I'll have to keep going to Narita.

新東京国際空港

Shin-Tôkyô Kokusai Kûkô, more commonly known as "Narita Airport," is the second-busiest airport in Japan after Tokyo International Airport at Haneda.

In 1962, the Japanese government decided that Haneda was too small to accommodate Tokyo's demand for air travel in the future, and commissioned a new airport solely for handling Tokyo's international flights. Three years later, in November of 1965, they announced that it would be built near the village of Tomisato in Chiba Prefecture, about 5 km southwest of where the airport is today.

Problem: Lots of farmers lived in Tomisato. They didn't want to give up their land.

Solution: The government decided to build the airport in the Sanrizuka area outside of the city of Narita.

Problem: There were farmers in Sanrizuka, too, and they didn't want to give up their land, either.

Solution: The government ignored the farmers and commenced construction.

In 1967, fifteen months after the government officially approved Narita Airport and gave the green light for construction, a survey crew was sent to Sanrizuka. They were followed by a healthy complement of riot police to watch their backs in case the local farmers became violent.

Rather than attempt to confiscate all the land necessary for a two-runway airport in one go, the government decided to split Narita into two phases. Phase I of Narita would have only one 4,000 meter runway, and would be built first. Once Phase I was operational, construction would begin on Phase II, along with the second runway.

The first round of land confiscation began in 1971. Between February and March, police went around the eastern outskirts of Narita, telling farmers within the airport zone to pack up and move out. Many forcibly resisted: within those two months, police arrested 291 Narita farmers, and over a thousand people on both sides of the fight were injured. The first round ended in March, but the police came back in September for a second round, in which some residents of Toho Village chained themselves to their houses and staunchly refused to leave.

While the first runway at Narita was scheduled to open late in 1971, the locals did everything they could to derail the government's efforts. Seven years later, when the runway was finally ready to go, a group of insurgents broke into the control tower and destroyed all of the airport's vital communications equipment, delaying its opening by another two months. Phase I of NTIA finally opened in May 1978, and the airport was put under the supervision of a private corporation.

Narita was fairly peaceful for the next decade or so. The machine guns around its perimeter helped keep the farmers out.

In 1986, while Japan's economy was riding high, the NTIA Corporation decided to begin work on Phase II, a 2,500 meter runway north of, and parallel to, the Phase I runway. This time, they held a series of round table discussions between local residents and airport officials. Both sides agreed to refrain from the use of force, and the airport authority agreed that there would be no more land confiscations: they would only take land if it was offered freely.

Sure enough, when a group of farmers just north of the airport refused to give up their land, NTIA bowed, smiled, and proceeded to place the threshold of a new (shortened) runway right next to their henhouses. The locals protested, the government looked away, and the new runway was inaugurated on April 18, 2002. Narita is now complete.

But at what cost?

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