For those of you that have been to Japan, you know it’s a land of wonderment. On one hand there is extreme adherence to traditions. In business you have to receive a business card with two hands and you always respect your elders. On the other hand they make plenty of room for the oddities in life. The vending machines that spit out board games or booking a night sleeping in a capsule hotel room. They also have supreme feats of engineering. The bullet train for example was way ahead of its time and they have seemed to have perfected the idea of an affordable reliable car. So why shouldn’t their airports be any less unique or less beautifully designed.
Narita Airport which is located just east of the Tokyo city center is the second largest airport in Japan and handles the majority of international flights coming into and out of Tokyo. It is also the largest cargo hub in Japan and tenth largest in the world. In April of 2015 it opened up Terminal 3 which is home to only low cost carriers. What makes this terminal unique is the interior is decorated with color-coded running tracks designed to direct traffic based on arrivals or departures.
The new terminal was created with LLC cost-cutting measures in mind. The terminal hallways use decals instead of lighted directional signs and utilizes outdoor gates and air-stairs instead of costly Jet Bridges. This is intended to reduce facility rental costs or airlines and their passengers by around 40% on international flights and 15% on domestic flights. The main tenants are Jetstar Japan, Vanilla Air and three other low-cost carriers use the terminal. A nice aspect for passengers is the 24-hour food court, which is the largest airport food court in Japan. I love the 24 hour food court. There have been many times when I have been stuck at a layover with nothing to eat or drink. Terminal 3 was built at a cost of 15 billion yen and covers 66,000 square meters of floor space.
The terminal was initially designed in anticipation of the 2020 Olympics coming to Japan. Being a punctual country the terminal was completed well in advance of 2020. The terminal was designed with track and field theme in mind, exhibited by an indoor running track. The color-coded circuit, which links the entirety of the terminal, helps tremendously with way-finding as the track is marked with directions, but also provides a comfortable cushy walking experience throughout the interior.
The terminal was completed by Japanese creative lab PARTY – alongside retailer’s Muji and consultant’s Nikken – The collaborative effort main focus was to create a low-cost airport in terms of both architecture and interior design. To save money the concept included no moving walkway or illuminated signs to reduce electricity. Instead an intuitive system of red and blue running lanes bring your through the terminal. Blue pathways signify departures and red is for arrivals. Genius!
I have to admit I love the design of this terminal. Not only is it sleek and colorful, but its pragmatic and cost effective. The red and blue lanes are something only they Japanese would institute but it is awesome. No need for signs, just put the directions on floor. No need for all that carpet, use cushy track material to walk around on. I am not a big fan of no jet bridges but if it means cheaper tickets, I am all for that. You have to love creativeness behind the terminal design, its different, fun and makes me want to visit. If you do ever visit terminal 3 at Narita be sure to let us know how it is and to use tripchi as your ultimate airport guide. Travel On!