National | AT A GLANCE

Bustling Haneda shines as a New Year’s traveler hub

by Satoko Kawasaki

Staff Writer

Every New Year’s, the nation’s airports are jammed with travelers heading to their hometowns or overseas to spend the holidays — and Tokyo’s Haneda is the busiest one.

As a global gateway, Haneda handled around 1,220 flight slots a day, and more than 80 million passengers in 2016, according to the transport ministry. The figures are exceptionally high compared with other airports in Japan.

During peak hours, aircraft land and take off in tight time slots just like rush-hour trains. From the airport’s huge observation deck, visitors can see planes landing and waiting for takeoff.

Haneda, which has four runways and three terminals, is just 15 km from central Tokyo.

Also known as Tokyo International Airport, Haneda has been awarded the 5-Star Airport rating by Skytrax, a British-based air transport research company, for four years in a row, gaining the highest rating for its service, comfort and cleanliness.

Its international terminal, opened in 2010, is easy to navigate and incorporates the latest universal designs and environmentally friendly features.

The terminal also has unique facilities. The departure lobby has a shopping arcade resembling an Edo Period (1603-1868) street. There are also restaurants and shops selling merchandise from popular anime that even nonpassengers can purchase.

To celebrate the new year, the airport will hold its Haneda Edo Festival from Jan. 1 to 3, offering a rice cake-making ritual called mochitsuki (rice-pounding) and food and entertainment stalls. There will also be an oiran gyoretsu (high-class courtesan parade) and traditional street performances.

The re-created wooden Nihonbashi Bridge from the Edo Period is among the features at Haneda
The re-created wooden Nihonbashi Bridge from the Edo Period is among the features at Haneda’s international terminal. | SATOKO KAWASAKI
Haneda handled about 1,220 flights a day in 2016, according to the transport ministry.
Haneda handled about 1,220 flights a day in 2016, according to the transport ministry. | SATOKO KAWASAKI
A shopping arcade resembling an Edo Period street is seen on Dec. 15 at Haneda.
A shopping arcade resembling an Edo Period street is seen on Dec. 15 at Haneda. | SATOKO KAWASAKI
People can watch aircraft take off and land at Haneda airport from neighboring Jonanjima Seaside Park in Ota Ward.
People can watch aircraft take off and land at Haneda airport from neighboring Jonanjima Seaside Park in Ota Ward. | SATOKO KAWASAKI
Aircraft are seen parked at Haneda airport near the heart of Tokyo on Dec. 15.
Aircraft are seen parked at Haneda airport near the heart of Tokyo on Dec. 15. | SATOKO KAWASAKI
Thousands of travelers flow through the international departure lobby at Haneda every day.
Thousands of travelers flow through the international departure lobby at Haneda every day. | SATOKO KAWASAKI

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