Thinking about taking a cheap flight to Japan this year? Traveling internationally is often expensive if you don’t know how to find the best deals and discounts. That’s where I come in. To save you time, money, and hassle, I’ve put together this helpful guide outlining the cheapest airports to fly into Japan!
A while back, I wrote a blog about the cheapest places to visit in Asia. Eagle-eyed readers likely noticed that one place I didn’t mention was Japan. That’s because I knew that the “Land of the Rising Sun” deserved its own separate post. More than just another tourist attraction, Japan is one of my favorite vacation spots in the world!
What makes the country so special (aside from its abundance of affordable Japanese airports) is its variety. It’s not hard to drive from one city to another but it feels like you’ve voyaged into a whole other world. This makes vacationing in Japan a surefire way to get more bang for your buck. Or, in this case, more bang for your yen.
Here’s everything you need to know about the cheapest places to fly into Japan in 2023.
Want to know how to find affordable airfare to anywhere in the world? Before getting into my recommendations for cities with the cheapest airports to fly into Japan, first I want to share a quick tip on how to save money on airfare.
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As always, it’s important to remember that even the cheapest flight to Japan from the USA will be affected by when you’re planning your trip and where you’re leaving from. One of the best ways to stay within your budget is to pick a city and an airport that are consistently affordable year-round.
In the list below, I’ve compiled the very best airports to fly to Japan from the US. These cities not only have inexpensive airports, but they also are fun, fascinating tourist destinations. Some, like Tokyo and Osaka, are among the most popular vacation spots in Asia. Others, like Oita and Sapporo, are diamonds in the rough.
Wherever you choose to go, you’ll be exposed to a wealth of traditions and cultural practices different from your own. Touring Japan’s unique cultures is an enriching experience. It’s also one that should be undertaken with great respect. Remember that the Shinto shrines, ancient palaces, and other attractions aren’t just cheap places to visit in Japan. They’re also part of the lives, heritage, and identities of the Japanese people.
Below are the cheapest flights to Japan from the US and other places around the world:
Of the two international airports near Tokyo, Japan, Narita International Airport (NRT) is the most affordable. Ticket prices start as low as $779 as of this writing. That’s actually the lowest price of all the airports listed in this blog! That said, flying into NRT comes with one small drawback. It’s not actually located inside Tokyo. This means that it will be an additional 1-2 hour drive into the city.
Something else worth keeping in mind is the fact that Tokyo is one of the only cities in Japan where passengers can fly non-stop from America. In fact, most of the other cheapest flights to Japan from the USA require a layover in Tokyo before passengers can move on to their final destination.
Of course, Tokyo’s popularity with tourists isn’t solely due to its convenience. As the capital of and most populous city in the country, there’s naturally a lot to see and do. Whether you’re most interested in exploring Japan’s ancient past or its urban present, Tokyo is sure to satisfy.
Gaze upon rare artifacts owned by geishas and samurai at the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Visit Japan’s most famous sumo wrestling arena, Kokugikan. Or get in touch with your cutesy side at the hotbed of kawaii culture that is Takshita-dori. Afterward, retire to your hotel or one of the many unique Airbnbs in Tokyo. Then get up and do it all again the next day!
The hustle and bustle of Tokyo is a lot of fun, but it can be overwhelming. If you want a taste of Japan’s metropolitan culture without feeling the pressure of non-stop hustle and bustle, consider a trip to Oita instead. Located on the scenic island of Kyushu, Oita is smaller, but no less brimming with tourist appeal.
When you land at Oita Airport (OIT), among the first things you’ll likely notice are the lovingly preserved ruins of Funai Castle. This 16th-century structure once served as the home of daimyo Otomo Sorin, one of the most famous military commanders during Japan’s “Warring States” period. With its placid moat and stone walls, Funai Castle offers a tantalizing trip back in time.
Alternatively, if your taste in attractions runs more towards the modern, the Wasada Town mall offers cutting-edge tech and super-chic fashions. Animal lovers won’t want to miss Takasakiyama Monkey Park, home to a colony of nearly 1,500 Japanese macaques that you can see and walk among without the interference of cage bars, fences, or netting. It’s a rare and truly wonderful experience that you won’t soon forget.
Before becoming a public commuter transport hub, Yamagata Airport (GAJ) was used first by the Imperial Japanese Navy during WWII, then by the US Military and the Japanese Self-Defense Force. Today, this historic terminal is one of the cheapest airports to fly into Japan.
Exiting GAJ, travelers will find themselves in the serene and unassuming city of Yamagata. Famed for its natural beauty, the region offers breathtaking views of the Ou Mountains and the 1,841-meter-high volcano Mount Zao. Likewise, the Mamigasaki River snakes right through the heart of the city, with cherry blossom trees lining its banks.
Popular tourist attractions in Yamagato include the natural hot springs of Zao Onsen Village and the beautiful Yamadera Temple. Keep in mind, though, that visiting the latter requires climbing a whopping 1,015 steps. Make sure to bring your hiking boots!
Last but not least, try to plan your trip so that it coincides with one of the city’s two big yearly festivals. In August, Hanagasa Matsuri sees the streets filled with flowered hats and trained dancers. In September, the Yamagata Imoni Festival is foodie heaven, boasting an astonishing six-meter cauldron of traditional beef-and-potato stew big enough to feed 30,000 guests. Yum!
Like Oita, the port city of Nagasaki is located on the island of Kyushu. Historically, Nagasaki was one of the only local harbors where foreign ships were allowed to dock during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. As a result, modern Nagasaki is a diverse melting pot of culture drawing on Portuguese, Chinese, and Dutch influences.
All this makes Nagasaki one of the unique and best places to visit in Japan. Add in the fact that Nagasaki Airport (NGS) is one of the best places to fly into Japan, and you have a recipe for an unforgettable yet affordable Japanese vacation.
Just outside the city is Nagasaki Biopark, the world’s largest petting zoo. Here visitors can interact with a wide range of exotic creatures, including flamingos, wallabies, kangaroos, and capybaras. Afterward, take a two-hour cruise or a guided walking tour of Gunkanjima, a small island that is home to a long-abandoned mining city. It’s not every day you get to explore a Japanese ghost town, after all.
Finally, before leaving Nagasaki, make sure to pay your respects at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park. The latter was built to commemorate the tens of thousands of lives lost during WWII. As a result, visiting Peace Park is a truly powerful, emotional, and thought-provoking experience.
With prices starting at $848 at the time of this writing, New Chitose Airport (CTS) is one of the best sources of cheap Japanese airfare. It’s also your entry point into Sapporo, a booming city with a population of nearly 2 million. In fact, it’s the largest Japanese city north of Tokyo. This makes it an excellent vacation destination in more ways than one.
Sapporo is also one of Japan’s most modern cities. This means that it has fewer traditional features, such as daimyo palaces or Buddhist temples. Instead, Sapporo feels more like a “Western-style” city, with architecture more in line with American and European styles. Don’t worry, though; if what you’re after is an authentic Japanese experience, Sapporo still satisfies.
To wit, the Historical Village of Hokkaido is an open-air museum that preserved more than 50 buildings from Japan’s Meiji Era. Furthermore, the Hokkaido University Botanic Garden offers 13 hectares of delicate Japanese flowers. It also features an on-site museum full of Meiji Era artifacts. For a relatively modern city, Sapporo is one of the best and cheapest places to visit in Japan. Don’t sleep on this veritable hidden gem!
Okayama Momotaro Airport (OKJ) takes its name not only from the region it serves, but also from local folklore. According to legend, a young boy named Momotaro was born from a giant peach and raised by a couple living in the city of Okayama. Momotaro would later go on a grand adventure. The roots of this tale in Okayama are a major source of local pride.
Fittingly, visiting Okayama is like entering a fairy tale. It’s not merely one of the cheapest places to fly to in Japan. It’s also one of the most magical. Attractions like the world-famous Korakuen Garden and the towering Okayama Castle are sure to capture the imagination of visitors. Likewise, the Kibji District is home to some of the most important sites related to the history of the pre-Empire of Japan Kibi Kingdom. Highlights include the Saijo Inari shrine and the Tsukuriyama Ancient Burial Mounds.
Of course, there are also countless Momotaro-related tributes and monuments all around the city. The most striking of these is the Momotaro Statue located outside Okayama Station. The best thing about Okayama, though? Much of it is navigable by walking, or through the use of inexpensive rental bikes. This makes Okayama one of the cheapest places in Japan for tourists.
If you’re visiting Japan, one thing you absolutely must do is sample the local cuisine. Where better to do that than the city of Takamatsu? So revered is the local culinary scene that Takamatsu has earned the nickname “Udon Kingdom.” The title refers to the traditional udon noodles that are the local chefs’ specialty.
Don’t wait; after arriving at Takamatsu Airport (TAK), I recommend immediately making your way to Teuchi Jyudan Udon Baka Ichidai, Waraya, or Udon Ippuku. These are three of the best and most popular restaurants in Takamatsu. Each one serves authentic Japanese dishes for reasonable prices. Afterward, stop over at MeloBar or Amazon for drinks. The local nightlife scene is just as enthralling as its culinary scene!
There’s more to the city than just delicious food and drinks, mind you. Takamatsu also hosts multiple annual events, most notably the Shionoe Firefly Festival in June and the Sanuki Takamatsu Festival (which features dancing, shopping, and fireworks) in August. No matter what time you go on vacation, one thing is for sure. Takamatsu is one of the best places to fly into Japan if you’re on a budget and looking for fun.
When looking at the cheapest airports to fly into Japan, Osaka has an extra advantage. Both of the airports servicing the city, Osaka International Airport (ITM) and Kansai International Airport (KIX), offer cheap airfare to Japan.
In fact, at the time of this writing, tickets cost $784 and $785 respectively, a difference of just $1. Along with Narita International near Tokyo, KIX is one of the only airports in Japan that US passengers can fly to direct.
No matter how you enter the city, you’re in for a good time. The city is home to such attractions as Kaiyukan, which is one of the largest aquariums in the world, and the quirky-cool Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum.
Yen burning a hole in your pocket? You can go on a spending spree in the Shinsaibashi district. Here you’ll find everything from small boutiques to big-name chain stores. Most interesting of all for US travelers will likely be America-mura. This popular hangout for fashionable teens boasts a small-scale reproduction of the Statue of Liberty. Consider it a small taste of home away from home.
Think Japan is all ancient castles and neon cityscapes? Think again. If you’re looking for a taste of the tropics, Shirahama’s white-sand beaches and natural hot springs are sure to impress. The low fees at nearby Nanki-Shirahama Airport (SHM) help make this one of the cheapest cities to fly to in Japan from the USA.
Unlike the other destinations on this list, Shirahama stands alone as a bona fide resort town. It boasts over 800 meters of beachfront. The sparkling, crystal-clear waters here are perfect for swimming and surfing. There are several funky, retro-style hotels in the area, as well as nightly fireworks shows throughout the summer.
When you’re done riding the waves, return to shore and spend the day chasing thrills at Adventure World. It’s an all-in-one combination of an amusement park, aquarium, and zoo. It’s also home to more than 1,400 animals, including the largest family of giant pandas in the country.
Don’t want to end up with a panda-like physique yourself? Kumano Kodo has just the thing you’re looking for. This network of ancient pilgrimage routes crisscrosses the peninsula of Kii Hanto. It doubles as both an eye-opening historical experience and a prime spot for hiking enthusiasts to get some exercise. Make sure you stop and take in the timeless beauty of the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano. There’s a good reason this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, after all.
Before you fly to Japan, there are a few more things you should know. Here are some common questions and answers to keep in mind when looking for cheap flights to Japan from the USA.
The two most expensive times to visit Japan are in the summer and the winter. Summer is a popular vacation time for US travelers in general. Winter, meanwhile, is popular for those journeying to Japan specifically, as it allows them to get away from the frigid temperatures of the Western hemisphere.
As a result, airfare to Japan during June-July and December-January is often expensive. By contrast, spring and autumn are among the cheapest times of year to fly to Japan.
If you’re wondering what month is the cheapest to fly to Japan, I recommend booking a flight in February, March, or April. As an added bonus, this coincides with cherry blossom season, meaning the country is at its most scenic.
According to Skyscanner, there are currently 8 airlines offering direct flights to Japan. With that in mind, the best airlines to Japan from the US are as follows:
Although Japan is currently home to almost 100 airports in total, only four are designated international airports. The main airports in japan are:
The average cost of airfare to Japan fluctuates based on multiple factors. These include what time of year it is, what the price of fuel is, where you’re departing from, and more. That said, the average price of a roundtrip flight to Japan in 2023 is around $800-1,000.
If you want to find the cheapest flight tickets to Japan, there are a few things you can do to ensure the best results. Often, the most important thing is to book your trip well in advance. Last-minute bookings typically cost more, as the demand for tickets is more urgent.
When most gaijin (the Japanese word for us foreigners) think of modern-day Japan, we tend to envision the colorful urban sprawl of Tokyo. While Tokyo is itself one of the best and cheapest cities in Japan to visit, there’s so much more to see.
From the fairy-tale wonder of Okayama to the Western-inspired architecture of Sapporo to the sunny beaches of Shirahama, Japan is a diverse country. Each city is like its own country with its own unique history, culture, and traditions.
During your trip, it’s important to remember that there are things that matter more than simply finding the cheapest airport to fly to Japan from the US. Which destination appeals most to you personally? If you’re a famished foodie, you might be drawn to the culinary scenes of Yamagata and Takamatsu. If you’re fascinated by Japanese history, on the other hand, a visit to Nagasaki is essential.
Whatever you’re looking for, Japan has all that and more. If there’s any one reason to fly to Japan in 2023, it’s because of how versatile the country is. There really is something for everyone, regardless of age or interest.
Best of all, visiting Japan offers American tourists an experience completely unique from what they may be used to. The castles of the daimyo, the temples of the Buddhist monks, the armor of the samurai, the Shinto practice of the Misogi ritual: it’s all an honored part of Japanese heritage. When you arrive, you’ll find that these things are inextricably woven into the fabric of Japanese life.
Being able to witness that legacy firsthand is an incredible privilege. Every time I visit Japan, I am thankful for the opportunity to do so. I predict that when you visit Japan, you’ll feel the same way. More than that, you’ll feel compelled to return… again… and again… and again…
For more travel tips (and inspiration), follow my adventures on Instagram: @Global.Viewpoint. Happy Travels! -Jon