TOKYO: The main airports around Tokyo have had a chequered history. Narita Airport is far from Tokyo and endured many riots when it was being constructed; Ibaraki Airport is even further from Tokyo and has very few flights; and in its early days, Haneda Airport had almost no international flights at all.
Now Haneda, close to central Tokyo, is blossoming as Japan’s No. 1 airport. Not only does it have many international flights, it has expanded its facilities and even has a prayer room for Muslims.
A new complex buzzing with shops, restaurants and hotels connected to Terminal 3 – Haneda’s international terminal – has transformed the airport and made it a destination in itself.
The facility was developed by the Sumitomo Realty Group, which, it says, aims to “spread the charm and culture of various regions of Japan from the world-famous Haneda Airport.”
One of the coolest features of the new complex can be found at the upscale Villa Fontaine Grand Hotel where some rooms have glass-paneled bathrooms on the outside of the hotel as well as rooftop spas from where you can watch planes flying into and out of the airport.
While Narita Airport has also transformed itself in recent years with upgraded terminal facilities, it is stuck in the middle of the countryside in Chiba Prefecture 60 km from Tokyo. Haneda is accessible from downtown Tokyo by train and monorail in just 20 minutes and flights are allowed around the clock.
Haneda Airport Garden’s opening was delayed for two years due to COVID-19 and Japan’s tough restrictions on entry for visitors. Japan has now opened up to tourists again and Haneda is bursting at the seams as visitors flock in from overseas.
The number of visitors from overseas has continued to rise, exceeding 1 million in December last year, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
In addition, China eased travel restrictions by changing its zero-COVID policy and the Japanese government formally decided to downgrade COVID-19 to Class 5, equivalent to seasonal influenza, effective May 8 this year.
Japan is now expecting a full-fledged recovery of the tourism industry and of inbound tourism with the government setting a goal of 60 million overseas visitors to Japan.
Haneda Airport was ranked first in the Best Airports in Asia category for the second consecutive year and second in the World’s Best Airports category for the fourth consecutive year in the 2022 World Airport Awards run by the UK’s Skytrax.
In the World’s Cleanest Airports category, Haneda Airport was also ranked first for the seventh consecutive year for its cleanliness and comfort.