The Tokyo-area’s much-maligned international air hub is giving us a new reason to actually enjoy going there.

It seems like Narita Airport should be loved by travelers. After all, as the primary hub for international flights into and out of Japan, its serves as both the exciting gateway and the fond farewell to the country for overseas visitors.

And yet, many travelers can’t help but sigh and grumble when Narita comes up in conversation, because it’s located all the way out in Chiba Prefecture, over an hour away from central Tokyo. Narita’s distance from most of the places travelers actually want to spend time can make their arrival and departure dates feel like wasted days, but this spring the airport is planning a series of cultural experience events that should help change the time you spend at the airport from a necessary hassle into a memorable experience.

Throughout March, Japan Culture Experience Corners will be set up in Terminal 1’s third-floor event space and Terminal 2’s publicly accessible Narita Sky Lounge Wa, both located just outside their respective buildings’ immigration processing areas. From 2 to 6 p.m. daily, travelers can try on kimono, samurai armor, or ninja clothing for commemorative photos. For something more hands-on, there will also be introductory classes on Japanese brushstroke calligraphy, washi paper doll making, kite crafting, and making ukiyo-e woodblock prints.

On the other hand, if you’re more interested in modern aspects of Japanese culture, Terminal 2’s Skyrium event area will be hosting a Manga Creator Experience from 1 to 5 in the afternoon on March 27 and 28. Participants will use professional-grade tools to ink and apply screentone to manga illustrations, and can take the finished artwork home.

And finally, if you’re content just to look at Japanese aesthetics instead of creating them, the Skyrium area will also be exhibiting a series of obi kimono sashes elegantly tied in the shape of spring flowers such as sakura cherry blossoms.

The specific dates for the Japan Culture Experience Corner activities are:
● Terminal 1
Kimono: March 22-28
Samurai armor and ninja outfits: March 1-6, 29-31
Ukiyo-e: March 7-21
● Terminal 2
Kimono: March 8-14
Samurai armor and ninja outfits: March 15-25, 29-31
Ukiyo-e: March 1-7, 28-31
Calligraphy, doll, and kite lessons: March 15-25

While the early announcement makes no mention of English instruction, the fact that the programs deal with pan-Japanese cultural aspects, as opposed to specifically Tokyo or Narita-related ones, suggests that foreign travelers will be warmly welcomed. So if you’re flying into or out of Narita, make sure to visit the town’s beautiful temple gardens early enough in the day that you can still make that days cultural experience event at the airport, and since the airport’s events are free, you can save your money for the awesome bank of capsule toy machines.

Source: PR Times
Images: Narita Airport
[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he also recommends Narita’s outdoor observation deck and convenience store stocked with affordably priced 500-milliliter canned chu-his.

[ Read in Japanese ]