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Next month I will travel to Tokyo with my partner, arriving to Narita airport. We will arrive in different flights, which means that even though I will arrive early in the morning, I will have to wait for her arrival for about four hours. I don't want to just sit down and wait in the airport or wander around the shops in the terminal, instead I would prefer to walk around the airport neighborhood.

Checking Google Maps, I have seen Sakuranoyama Park is near the airport, like a 40 minute walk, which would be a nice option. However, the way to reach the park by foot seems pretty unsafe to say the least, basically having to walk through a tight car road with barely any real shoulder for pedestrians. Is there any safe way to go to the park by walking? Or any other similar place that I can walk to in the area?

I want to mention that for different reasons (language barrier, schedules...), I prefer not to use public transports during that four hour time span, and instead just walking around; otherwise I would take the train to Narita City.

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    You want to travel to Tokyo and you don't want to use public transport? Good luck with that! – fkraiem Sep 7 '19 at 12:16
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    Even in cities, many of the side steets do not have a shoulder for pedestrians but just some lines painted on the pavement. Never had a problem with drivers; at least at cities they are careful enough. I do not know if that changes when they are on the road. – SJuan76 Sep 7 '19 at 13:10
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    In any case, Google Maps worked ok with public transport, and for trains & metro there is the JR East application that is very intuitive (although I would advice to avoid catching or switching trains at the biggest stations like Tokyo or Shimegawa as the are really big): play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.co.jreast.en – SJuan76 Sep 7 '19 at 13:13
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    @fkraiem Sorry, I should have explained more clear. I mean I don't want to take public transport in the few hours that I have to wait for my partner. I have to be at the terminal when she arrives no matter what, so I don't want to risk to take a wrong bus or being delayed for whatever reason; by walking I can control the time better. Obviously I will use public transport while in Japan (this will be my second time there, in fact last time I was gladly surprise how easy Tokyo underground was). – koshirofan Sep 7 '19 at 15:00
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    I wouldn't be too afraid of the language barrier, especially in Narita Airport. If you have a IC Card (easily obtainable in one of the machine terminals with English support) you can ride buses without having to calculate fare prices or speak to anybody. Applies for the train to Narita City as well. The staff is also usually helpful and somewhat bilingual in English. – Eriol Sep 10 '19 at 17:13
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I've had a good look on Google Maps and street view.

Is it possible to walk out of the airport? Maybe, yes. There seems to be footpaths alongside most of the roads you would need to walk, or a part of the road marked by a white line at the side, or at least a grass verge to walk along. Where you need to cross a road there are pedestrian crossing marked on the road. I even saw some people walking on street view.

Is it safe? Maybe, see Jan's answer.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem might be getting back into the airport. The terminal area is surrounded by a security fence. The footpaths go through the fence at various places, each with a gate and a guard. I don't know for sure, but you might need a specific ID to get through the gate, particularly if your are entering the secure area on foot. I suspect these gates are for airport workers, and a passport and a plane ticket won't cut it. You might get lucky and the guard will take note of you, promising to let you back in, but what will you do if you return a couple of hours later and the shift has changed?

Anyway, here is a route I think might be possible, starting from the hotel right outside terminal 2: https://www.google.com/maps/dir/35.7725914,140.386262/35.775505,140.3627909/@35.7746519,140.366927,2880m/am=t/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m2!4m1!3e2?hl=en After about 800m you come to the security gate.

A similar route seems to be possible from Terminal 1, taking about 10 mins longer.

TBH, I think you will have a bigger problem at these security gates - with language and procedure - than getting a bus or train to somewhere. And I think there is a significant risk that you find yourself stuck outside the security cordon, or being led away for questioning.

Lastly, I too have had to hang around an airport for hours on end. I had a lengthy brunch and looked in all the shops, and out the windows at the planes going by - 6 hours just flew by. In your case, I would question the need to visit the park, on foot. It is a lengthy walk alongside roads, it is well past cherry blossom time and there seems to be little else to do there except watch the planes go by; and for that you can get a better view from the terminal observation decks.

  • I didn't know that fences even exist on the public area, I'm really surprised! I mean, I assumed that, since someone can just enter an airport public terminal by car or bus, there wouldn't be any problem with just walking there. Is this security usual in most airports, or a Japanese thing? In any case, you are right, I will just stay in the aiport; I didn't really have any interest on the park itself, just wanted to distract myself far from the tedious environment of the airport. Thanks for the info, you probably save me some problems there! – koshirofan Sep 10 '19 at 20:17
  • "I didn't know that fences even exist on the public area, I'm really surprised!" It kind of surprised me too, which is why I think they might be for airport workers rather than passengers. – Nick Sep 10 '19 at 20:24
  • I wonder if those big gates are simply remnants from the times when Narita was a domestic terrorism target. I believe the restrictions that require everyone to show ID before entering the airport were only lifted a couple of years ago. – Jan Sep 11 '19 at 3:15
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Unfortunately, I was unable to find out if and if so how you can leave the terminal area on foot. There seem to be footpaths on Google Street View but as your view is restricted to that of a car I cannot confirm if they actually go where you want them to.

Once you are off the airport grounds, the type of small road with no pavement is what you will get in large parts of urban Japan. Drivers are used to this, will notice you and avoid you as long as you stick to the side (it might be scary at times but it always worked out so far). As many people in Japan walk or slowly ride a bicycle, drivers also expect obstructions of this kind. So you should be absolutely fine.

  • Nice, that's good to know. I am used to the agressive driving on western countries, where walking next to a tight road can be a death sentence. – koshirofan Sep 10 '19 at 20:22
  • @koshirofan As someone alluded to in the comments, there are many roads in Japan without any pavement. This is common everywhere, even in urban areas. People have no choice but to walk in the road, so drivers are aware of it and look out for pedestrians. – John Sep 11 '19 at 1:33
  • @koshirofan They’ll still be driving pretty aggressively (at least in my eyes) but they’ll also know to take good care about pedestrians. – Jan Sep 11 '19 at 3:13

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