Tokyo Haneda airport spotting report by Henry Tenby

Henry Tenby on the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

Henry Tenby on the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

After waiting many decades, in December of 2015, I finally had the opportunity to spend a morning aircraft spotting at Tokyo’s amazing Haneda airport. I waited for a crystal blue sky day, and easily took the train from Shinjuku Station in central Tokyo (journey time was about 45 minutes each way, which included changing trains as there is no direct train to reach the terminal buildings).

Haneda has three separate and distinct terminals: one for ANA, one for JAL, and the International Terminal. The train will drop you off either at the International Terminal or the domestic terminal area. Once at the domestic terminal area you can take a free shuttle bus between the ANA and JAL terminals.

And the good news is that all three terminals boast massive, open air observation decks that span each of the terminal roofs and offer great views. However, you want to keep reading, as I do offer a valuable recommendation for aircraft photographers, as not all the decks are equal. My visit spanned the morning hours and I arrived around 10 am .. and departed back to central Tokyo around 1 pm.

TOKYO HANEDA – JAL TERMINAL 1:
My first Haneda deck to visit was the JAL terminal (which is Terminal 1). The deck itself is first rate and it faces south towards the International Terminal and central runway area. So unless you are there very early morning, you’ll have to deal with looking into the light, which is not ideal for photography or video. But you do get some nice morning views of the JAL aircraft on the bridges, and decent push-back shots can be achieved until mid morning. I spent about half an hour at the JAL decks before making my way over to the ANA terminal (Terminal 2).

JAL 767 being serviced at the gate. Taken mid morning on the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1.

JAL 767 being serviced at the gate. Taken mid morning on the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1.

This would be the best view available at the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1. Photo taken around 10 am.

This would be the best view available at the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1. Photo taken around 10 am.

The obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1 was a ghost town at 10 am, certainly on the day I was there. The ANA Terminal 2 obsdeck is a lot better.

The obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1 was a ghost town at 10 am, certainly on the day I was there. The ANA Terminal 2 obsdeck is a lot better.

The obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1 is not the best, although it is worth a quick morning visit when light it best.

The obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1 is not the best, although it is worth a quick morning visit when light it best.

Spartan JAL aircraft on the gates viewed from the obsdeck on Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1.

Spartan JAL aircraft on the gates viewed from the obsdeck on Tokyo Haneda JAL Terminal 1. Photo taken around 10 am.

TOKYO HANEDA – ANA ALL NIPPON TERMINAL 2:
The Haneda ANA terminal faces North – Northeast, so basically you have good light all day, with great apron views of all the ANA aircraft pulling into the gates, pushing back and starting engines, and good runway action as well. The deck again spans a good length of the ANA terminal roof area, and if you have limited time and want to maximize your photo and spotting results, I would suggest spending most of your Haneda time on this deck. Like all the Haneda decks there is a wire mesh, but there are plenty of big openings designed specially for cameras to be poked through, and there are plenty for everyone. I did notice loads of Japanese aviation fans on the decks, and everyone was keen on taking pics and videos, but you’ll never have to worry about missing a shot due to lack of available photo holes in the mesh barrier.

ANA 777 on the gate viewed from the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

ANA 777 on the gate viewed from the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2.

ANA 777 starting engines viewed from the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

ANA 777 starting engines viewed from the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2.

Punters enjoying the day on the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

Punters enjoying the day on the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2.

ANA triple seven being serviced at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

ANA triple seven being serviced at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

ANA big boys on the gates at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

ANA big boys on the gates at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

North end view from the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background

North end view from the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

ANA All Nippon 777-300 about to push off blocks, obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background

ANA All Nippon 777-300 about to push off blocks, obsdeck view at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

Punters soaking up the atmosphere at the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background

Punters soaking up the atmosphere on the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

Loads of open space even on a busy day on the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

Loads of open space even on a busy day on the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2.

ANA All Nippon 737-800 at the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background

ANA All Nippon 737-800 at the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

ANA Star Wars 767 at the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background

ANA Star Wars 767 at the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2 with Tokyo Bay in the background.

ANA All Nippon fleet spotting at the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2

ANA All Nippon fleet spotting at the obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2

Massive open air obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2

Massive open air obsdeck at Tokyo Haneda ANA Terminal 2, there is room for everyone.

TOKYO HANEDA – INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL 3:
One my way back to central Tokyo I paid a quick visit to the International terminal obsdeck. You basically have to get on the train and it is the first stop past the domestic terminal on your way into Tokyo. You can’t knock the International observation deck. The views are decent, but for me personally, I prefer the Japanese domestic traffic over the international traffic. Like the ANA terminal, the International deck also faces to the North – Northeast so light is good for most of the day, with the sun at your back. The only thing I did not like, for runway views there are many light standards at the edge of the parking apron which interfere with photographing aircraft on the move on the runway. This is specially troublesome for those shooting video. The many light standards basically ruin the video as you pan aircraft at speed. So for all these reasons, personally, I would not return to the International terminal observation deck next time I return to Haneda.

Lots of space on the obs deck at Tokyo Haneda International Terminal

Lots of space on the obs deck at Tokyo Haneda International Terminal

ANA 767-300 at Tokyo Haneda International Terminal

ANA 767-300 at Tokyo Haneda International Terminal

Obsdeck view from Haneda International Terminal

Obsdeck view from Haneda International Terminal

Obsdeck view from Haneda International Terminal

Obsdeck view from Haneda International Terminal

Obsdeck view from Haneda International Terminal

Obsdeck view at Haneda International Terminal. The people are keen spotters!

Obsdeck view from Haneda International Terminal

Obsdeck view from Haneda International Terminal. Notice the lamp standards that get in the way of runway photography.

SHanghai Airbus A330 at Tokyo Haneda International Terminal

SHanghai Airbus A330 at Tokyo Haneda International Terminal

Observation deck Haneda Airport International Terminal

Observation deck Haneda Airport International Terminal

Observation deck Haneda Airport International Terminal

Observation deck Haneda Airport International Terminal

Observation deck Haneda Airport International Terminal

Observation deck Haneda Airport International Terminal

Haneda Airport view across the field to T1 from the International Terminal

Haneda Airport view across the field to T1 from the International Terminal

Hopefully you have found my Haneda airport spotting report useful. Please add your comments below, which I welcome. And, if you can share this post on your Facebook page … I would be very appreciative of your efforts in helping to promote my blog.

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Tokyo Haneda airport spotting report by Henry Tenby
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And the good news is that all three terminals boast massive, open air observation decks that span each of the terminal roofs and offer great views. However, you want to keep reading, as I do offer a valuable recommendation for aircraft photographers, as not all the decks are equal.
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Henry Tenby
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