Thursday, November 23, 2017

When Haneda Came Home

In the world of one-upmanship, the expat who can say they arrived in Japan before Narita opened takes some beating. That was in 1978 so any remaining septuagenarians are, we, likely to be in their seventies by now. And if coming from Europe would have either travelled via Anchorage or through Hong Kong as Russian airspace wasn't opened until a good few years after that. But that's a different story. Anyway, Narita was opened to relieve pressure on the (much more convenient) downtown Haneda which subsequently took over domestic duties whilst Narita provided international routes. And so we all hubbed out of Seoul until they realized that de-planing and carrying your bag an hour and a half across Chiba Prefecture wasn't such a bright piece of planning overall.

But back to Haneda. Originally seen as an alternative solution to landing on the beach (no, seriously), Haneda was opened in the early 1930's to the delight of the Empire's extremities around Asia who were now in reach of daily newspapers. The original terminal was still in use until relatively recently serving flights from Taipei to Hawaii as there was a little dispute over sovereignty going on at the time and it wasn't seen as being of particular diplomaté (I may have made that word up) to hub certain airlines via the same landing strips. And so from 1978 until approximately 2010, the only international flight was the tri-lingual Honolulu Special. Which went about twice a week. And then finally we got a real international terminal. But for night flights only. Until 2014. When we got days.

Looking back though, Haneda was first a civil airport and then from 1945 - 1952 expanded under MacArthur as a US Military base before being returned to the original owners. The first expansion had been due to be on a landfill island in Tokyo Bay but was scrapped in favor of an extension to the existing site (the landfill island is now known as Yumenoshima (Dream Island, a name not without a certain sense of irony that shall host the Archery tournaments of the 2020 Olympics; and I believe the last resting site of one of the fishing ships exposed in the Bikini Atol mishap (but that's a whole Lithium 6 vs 7 story)). And so these days, as you come in to land, when your sitting at the back, you still feel the whiplash as your plane makes it's final descent, taking a steep left turn towards the island runways. And that's so that you come in over the bay rather than rattle the city so that we can all sleep peacefully at night. And with that I shall say thank you, and have a nice flight.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoy the efforts you have put in this,
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