8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing!

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing

There are more than 75 Japan airports offering scheduled airline services. Some Japan airports are engineering or architectural marvels, while others are little more than a runway and single terminal building. But what they all have in common is that they are clean, efficient gateways to Japan’s unique culture and scenery. Here are a few that I’ve personally used:



 

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing!

 

1. Tokyo’s International Airports

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing haneda

A great deal has already been written about Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports. These busy and well-organised airports, with their excellent shopping, dining and other services for the comfort and well-being of travellers, will be the principal gateway to Japan for foreign visitors, certainly for the Tokyo/Kanto area.

 

2. Kansai International, Honshu

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing kansai

Originally opened in 1994 to ease congestion at Osaka Airport, Kansai International is one of several Japan airports built on man-made islands (along with Kobe, Kita Kyushu, Chubu Centrair and Nagasaki airports). Conveniently located to serve destinations as diverse as lively Osaka city and picturesque, historic Kyoto and Nara, the island is so big that it’s visible from space! However, although it was engineered to resist earthquakes, typhoons and even sabotage attempts, the island is now believed to be slowly sinking. In addition, rising sea levels due to global warming may yet see this miracle of modern engineering under water!

 

3. Chubu Centrair International, Honshu

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing chubu

(MIKI Yoshihito)

Chubu Centrair is another airport built on an artificial island; in Ise Bay, Tokoname City in Aichi Prefecture. Regularly rated among the world’s best airports or best regional airports, Chubu Centrair is just 35km south of Nagoya in central Japan. A showcase of the airport is the 4th Floor Sky Town Shopping Centre with some 60 or more shops and restaurants laid out on two ‘streets’ named Renga-dori, and Chochin-yokocho. The latter’s shops are individually themed along traditional Japanese lines.

 

4. New Chitose, Hokkaido

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing chitose

Not all Japan airports are engineering wonders, but they’re all gateways to somewhere wonderful. New Chitose is a modern, though otherwise unremarkable airport (unless you count its semi-circular terminal building or the military aircraft it shares taxiways with). With an efficient, rapid train service to JR Sapporo Station, visitors can easily connect to the region’s places of interest, such as the famed hot springs of Noboribetsu town, the caldera lake Kuttara and the sulphurous beauty of Jigokudani (Hell Valley)! For skiers, the famous powder snow of Niseko is just 2-3 hours away.

 

5. Hakodate, Hokkaido

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing hakodate

(Cheng-en Cheng)

Charmingly quaint and simple, this airport is how I reach one of my personal favourite hiking/photography spots. A scheduled shuttle bus service to Hakodate Station takes just 20mins, and from there it’s just a 20min train ride to Onuma Koen Station and the great natural beauty of Onuma Quasi National Park. The park is known for its picturesque lakes, many small islands and connecting bridges, diverse wildlife, and the impressive dormant volcano, Mt Komagatake. It’s a beautiful and accessible location at any time of year. Otherwise, Hakodate airport’s only claim to fame was when a defecting Soviet pilot landed his MiG-25 (Foxbat) there in 1976!

 

6. Matsuyama, Shikoku

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing matsuyama

(Hideyuki KAMON)

This airport’s only real distinction is that it serves Matsuyama, the largest city on Shikoku and the principal city of Ehime prefecture, a cultural centre often overlooked by Western travellers. Airport buses take just 15mins to Matsuyama Station. The city is dominated at its centre by a magnificent castle built upon Mt Katsuyama at a height of 132m. The castle grounds afford a panoramic view of the city and are particularly impressive during cherry blossom time. Among Matsuyama’s many other attractions is the Dogo onsen (hot spring) which is said to have a 3,000 year history.

 

7. Nagasaki, Kyushu

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing nagasaki

(Yamaguchi Yoshiaki)

Nagasaki’s civil airport is built on an island which, though not technically artificial, was greatly flattened and remodelled from its original shape. There is no rail access to Nagasaki city, but regular buses make the rip in just under an hour. Nagasaki is of course famous as a victim of the atomic bombings of WW2 and there are various reminders and memorials to that event. As a port city and trading centre, Nagasaki was much influenced by the Portuguese and Dutch during the 16th to 19th centuries, as evident in the city’s many European style buildings and churches.

 

8. Naha, Okinawa

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing naha

The island of Okinawa has been gaining in popularity with both foreign and domestic tourists for many years and the airport is currently expanding to meet this demand. It has an attractive, modern terminal and connects in under 30mins to central Naha and Shuri Station terminus (close to Shuri castle) by monorail, the only rail system on Okinawa. Hiring a car or taking highway buses is the only way to get around and buses run from the airport to all the popular locations such as Okinawa Churaumi aquarium and the white sand beach resort at Onna.

 

Conclusion

For visitors to Japan who are planning to move around from region to region, the Shinkansen is often preferable in terms of convenience, price, or simply as an experience. However, with the growing number of low cost air carriers now operating, it may actually be cheaper to fly to some locations, especially if one books well in advance. Always check for the most competitive prices ahead of your journey. Bon voyage!

 

8 Amazing Japan Airports You Can Enjoy as Sightseeing!

1. Tokyo’s International Airports
2. Kansai International, Honshu
3. Chubu Centrair International, Honshu
4. New Chitose, Hokkaido
5. Hakodate, Hokkaido
6. Matsuyama, Shikoku
7. Nagasaki, Kyushu
8. Naha, Okinawa