Tokyo Airport Tours – The Haneda Airport Tour That Puts You in the Hangar

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If you’re interested in airport tours, factory tours or airplane tours, then this post will be of special interest to you. At Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, two airlines have their own special tours that combine airport tours, factory tours or airplane tours into an interesting aviation experience. 

cover JAL airport tour

Haneda Airport Tours in Tokyo

In this week’s Child’s Play column for The Japan Times, I write about kojo kengaku (工場見学). It’s basically a factory tour, even though this is not exactly a factory. Instead, it’s in the maintenance hangars at Haneda Airport near downtown Tokyo. In these airport tours, you don’t wander the terminals or visit the air traffic controllers. Instead, you learn about the history of each airline and the history and science of flying itself. Then you get access to the hangar where they perform repairs and upkeep of their fleet. 

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Not Your Usual Airport Tour or Japan Factory Tour 

I’ve written about Japanese factory tours before, but the airplane tours offered by JAL (Japan Airlines) and ANA (All Nippon Airlines) are different, and could be a great opportunity to learn about how airplanes work for those of your interested. 

Below is an excerpt from my column on Haneda Airport Tours. This section basically lays out what to expect from the airport tour and what makes it different than other Japan factory tours. 

ANA airport tour in Tokyo

Fly Into Action – Take the Kids on Airport Tours

Ask 100 children what they want to be when they grow up and it’s a safe bet that a dozen will say they want to be a pilot. Sure, air travel is less glamorous than during my father’s generation, but the act of flying remains magical to kids. Adults too. You don’t have to be a schoolkid to find aviation interesting. For those who love airplane tours, factory tours and hangar tours, two Japanese airlines offer a chance to experience some of the biggest jets in a new way.

Haneda Airport Tours

Both Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) offer airport tours of their Haneda Airport maintenance facilities. This is often called a factory tour, but you won’t see planes being built. Instead, retired pilots, flight attendants and ground staff show you airplane maintenance up close — all while you learn about air travel and the mechanics of aviation. Oh, and did I mention that these Japanese factory tours free?

A Few Airplane Tour Rules

Before I describe what happens on a kōjō kengaku (factory tour), there are a few caveats worth mentioning. First, the entire airport tour experience is in Japanese — the exhibit explanations, the presentation and the guided tour — although some English pamphlets are available. The online registration process for these airplane tours is also in Japanese. If you struggle with the language, have a local friend help sign you up. It’s worth noting, though, that Japanese proficiency isn’t required to enjoy the airport tour. The awe of standing next to a massive Boeing 787 engine requires no translation.

Second, the airport tours are for school-aged kids 6 years old and above. In fact, regardless of age, I would only suggest visiting with kids you know can stay with the group. There are safety factors to consider once in the airport hangar.

Third, these are very popular airport tours and spots are limited, so I recommend registering as early as possible. Some people register months in advance. The limited numbers, however, will work to your advantage. It never gets too crowded and you get a more personalized experience, with less people in the way when you want to take pictures. [Read Full Story on Japan Times]

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Do You Like Factory Tours? Or Airplane Tours?

Have you taken any good airport tours of factory tours in Japan or elsewhere? Tell us about them! What kind of factory tours? Where were they? Hw can we go and see for ourselves?

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you book a hotel in Tokyo or buy any recommended travel gear from our links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you get the most out of your trip to Japan. 

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