Tokyo's Haneda Airport puts on the 'wa' to pull in foreigners
TOKYO -- With more and more overseas travelers using Tokyo's Haneda Airport as a transfer hub, the number of shops and restaurants there catering to them has mushroomed. To increase their appeal to foreigners, many of the establishments use traditional Japanese design themes to evoke the romanticism and mystique of a bygone era.
Tokyo Airport Restaurant recently opened Hitoshinaya, a three-restaurant establishment that takes its design cues from the Edo period (1603-1868). The trio of Japanese eateries can seat a total of about 50 customers, and the decor incorporates the aesthetic of nagaya wooden row houses common in that era.
Its specialties are bowls of rice covered in starchy sauce and Japanese-style soup containing seasonal vegetables. The dishes typically cost between 1,000 yen ($9.67) and 1,500 yen.
On July 30, souvenir shop operator ANA Festa renovated and reopened an outlet at Haneda's 61st gate. The store has a distinctly Japanese look marked by the extensive use of wood panels. Its offerings include expensive sweets that, thanks to their long shelf life, are ideal for being taken back home by overseas travelers.
Sales at souvenir shops in Haneda's international terminal are roughly 20% higher than those at the domestic terminals. Moves like the one by ANA Festa are aimed at closing that gap.
In July, prestigious department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings opened Isetan Haneda Store Terminal 1, a small shop targeting women, on the second floor of Haneda's Terminal 1.
The outlet, which has roughly 600 sq. meters of floor space, mainly offers sundry goods -- including parasols and pouches -- spanning some 80 brands. Most of the items are intended as souvenirs for foreign shoppers.
Isetan Mitsukoshi's reputation in Asia as a purveyor of high-end goods is expected to help goose sales at the new establishment. To add to its image of luxury, the shop also houses a nail salon. It targets annual sales of 300 million yen.
Currently, about 10% of the passengers using Haneda's domestic terminals are foreigners. Business operators there are betting that customer traffic from these travelers will increase now that the airport is hosting an expanding number of international flights. Haneda opened its international terminal in October 2010.
Chocolatier Godiva Japan plans to open by the end of August a store in Kin No Tubasa, the name of a cluster of confectionery shops in the airport. The globally famous Godiva brand can be found at most of the world's major international airports and has been conspicuously absent at Haneda.
The number of people passing through the airport's domestic terminals plunged after the global financial crisis hit, but it has been increasing since fiscal 2011, partly thanks to the addition of the international wing. In fiscal 2013, the number of passengers using Haneda's domestic terminals increased 5% on the year to roughly 61.6 million, topping 60 million for the first time in five years.
Rival next door
South Korea's Incheon International Airport is a big rival for Haneda in the battle to be a prime Asian air-travel hub. It hosts many flights to and from local airports in Japan and has become a major transfer point between Japan's smaller airports and overseas airports.
However, Haneda's addition in March of many new arrival and departure slots has put the airport on a roughly even footing with Incheon in terms of convenience, as travelers can now use it to access a larger number of flights connecting regional airports in Japan and overseas destinations.
Eager to tap Haneda's growing status as an international transfer hub, All Nippon Airways will in October launch flights between the Tokyo airport and Nagoya's Chubu Centrair International Airport. In March, Japan Airlines doubled the number of flights on that route to two a day.