‘Omotenashi’, the spirit of Japanese hospitality, became something of a buzzword at home and abroad when Christel Takigawa used the phrase in her speech to the International Olympic Committee in 2013.
And it’s in this spirit that Tokyo’s Narita airport plans to extend an especially warm welcome to international visitors this year, as it renews its Omotenashi Program of special offers and cultural events for transferring passengers.
The Omotenashi service is aimed at travellers transferring between two international flights at Narita, with a goal of encouraging transiting passengers to consider Japan as a future travel destination. Simply by showing their travel documents, passengers will be able to gain free access to the Rassurants travellers’ lounge (usually 1,030 yen [US $8.60]), where they can imbibe coffee and various types of tea, as well as free WiFi (still a relatively rare occurrence in Japan).
Visitors can also use the airport shower rooms at a discounted rate of 500 yen ($4.18).
▼ “Come to historic Japan! We have half-price showers!”
But it’s not all complimentary green tea and four-dollar showers. Narita is also renewing its programme of cultural events, aimed at encouraging transferring passengers to come back to Japan as tourists. There are three major events:
Putting on a kimono is a notoriously difficult task that most people require assistance with. For a few days in April, visitors to the newly opened Narita Sky Lounge Wa will be able to try wearing a kimono, and take photos in a dedicated ‘photo spot’. Not a bad way to hang out between flights, right?
▼ This event actually seems to be a continuation of one they’ve been running at Narita for some years now.
Ride a rickshaw!
Did you know that the rickshaw was invented in Japan? It takes its anglicised name from the Japanese word ‘jinrikisha‘ 人力車, literally meaning “human-powered vehicle”. Visitors will also be able to take a ride in a rickshaw and take photos with the driver.
▼ Presumably, it’s a (very short) indoor ride, unless they’re also offering tours of the airport runway.
Models dressed as apprentice geisha or ‘maiko’ will be touring the airport in an event called ‘maiko no o-sampo’ (maiko’s walk), which consists of them providing photo opportunities for travellers, and generally looking awesome.
All in all it looks like a good day out! Just make sure you’re not having so much fun in the airport that you forget to catch your onward flight.
Terminal 1, 2nd Floor Central Building and Terminal 2, 4th Floor Main Building
Terminal 1, 2nd floor shower room and Terminal 2, Hotel Nine Hours
Rickshaw rides (1pm-5pm) and kimono dressing (2pm-5:30pm)
April 24th, 27th-30th
Narita Sky Lounge Wa (Terminal 2)
Maiko no o-sampo, weekdays from April 1st-30th (12-5:30pm)
After passport control (Terminal 1)