Sense of Place

An island paradise

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Sense of Place is at the very heart of the design and offer of the new-look Shimojishima Airport on Japan’s Miyako Islands – where commercial flights have returned after 25 years.

Open-air design: The airport experience represents the first steps of travellers’ enjoyment of the island.

‘A resort which starts at the airport’. That’s the concept design behind the new-look Shimojishima Airport in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, which has begun scheduled commercial flights for the first time in 25 years.

Mitsubishi Estate completed work on the new Miyako Shimojishima Airport Terminal on the island of Shimojishima – part of the Miyako Islands – on 11 March. The 30 March opening included the inaugural Jetstar Japan flight from Narita International.

The airport itself is not new – it officially opened in 1973 – but the impressive new terminal transforms its outlook. Airport operator Shimojishima Airport Management Co. aims to offer international and domestic flights, with a target of 300,000 passengers by 2021.

Shimojishima Airport Management Co. aims to offer a smooth experience with a suggestion of luxury.

In addition to the Narita-Shimojishima route, there are plans for a Kansai-Shimojishima route by Jetstar, and for a flight by HK Express between Hong Kong and Shimojishima, the first regular international route in the Miyakojima area of the island.

Sense of Place is at the very heart of the design and offer, given that the terminal is seen as a vital part of the traveller’s overall island experience – and something of a resort in and of itself.

Shimojishima Airport Management Co. commented: “Incorporating lush greenery and natural light, we are aiming for those who visit Miyako Islands to enjoy a relaxing space from the moment their plane touches down.

“With special facilities for receiving international routes, the design features smooth immigration and departure, and aims for an excellent user experience.”

This outdoor area features a pool – travellers cannot swim in it but there are seating areas so they can still relax.

The retail offer includes the Coral Port duty free shop, plus Coral Port airside and landside stores offering a selection of local products unique to the Miyako Islands. Coral Port is also the branding for two food & beverage facilities, which come with a ‘Made in Miyako’ tag line.

“To properly convey the appeal of the Miyako Islands and its abundant natural plants, fruits, meats and seafood, we have installed cafés and other eateries providing food from local ingredients both in the check-in building and the lounge (departures) building,” noted the airport company.

“By connecting the restaurants with local producers and contracting the management to [F&B partner] Okinawa UDS with its abundant menu planning experience, we aim to convey the appeal of local producers and the islands, contributing to the spread of local food culture and regional revitalisation.”

Shimojishima Airport Management Co. said it would now work with local tourism authorities to increase the appeal of the Miyako Island chain to visitors, both domestic and international.

Shimojishima Airport is Japan’s first ‘net zero energy’ airport terminal, designed to reduce primary energy consumption by 68% compared to the national standard.

An airport reborn: The new terminal serves the western region of the Miyako Islands, with a target of 300,000 passengers by 2021.

The laminated timber roof structure uses local materials, and is a first for Japan.

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The Moodie Davitt eZine | Issue 260 | 7 May 2019