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Friday, March 14, 2008

Kansai International Airport

kansai international airport関西国際空港

Serving the Kinki region of western Japan--which includes Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Nara--Kansai International Airport is the most elegant airport in Japan. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, it is also the largest airport in Japan after Tokyo's Narita. In addition, it is both easy to use and easy on the eyes.

Whereas Narita calls to mind a very large, very crowded bus terminal, Kansai is all light and space and a dramatic swooping roof. The ceiling looks like outstretched wings, an apt metaphor, with its airfoil roof.

The terminal building also can boast that at 1.7 km from end to end it is the longest in the world. Taking advantage of all that ceiling space, the design team has installed mobiles throughout the terminal.

The soft color scheme of the interior also seems have been chosen to ease pre-flight stress a bit.

Shopping at Kansai International Airport does not compare to Centrair, in Nagoya. However, there is the usual selection of stores: a drug store, electronics store, book store, massage, duty-free, and many restaurants.

Kansai International AirportIn 2007, a second runway opened, and the airport is now a major Asian hub with direct flights to many cities in China, South Korea, Thailand, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Kathmandu. Japan Airlines alone flies to: Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Beijing, Brisbane, Busan, Dalian, Denpasar/Bali, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London-Heathrow, Qingdao, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai-Pudong, Singapore, Taipei-Taiwan Taoyuan.

In 2007, there were 129,000 flights at "Kanku" (as it is known in Japanese).

Access

The airport is built on a man made island south of Osaka City. It is served by rail and bus links.
JR West and Nankai Railways operate rail service directly to the airport. The airport express Haruka, which is run by JR, begins in Kyoto, and stops at Shin-Osaka and Tennoji before arriving at the airport. The entire trip takes 75 minutes.
Nankai offers the futuristic blue trains called rapi:t. These trains run to Namba Station, which is in the southern part of central Osaka.

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