Japan’s First Airports

The first operational airfield in Japan was Tokorozawa, some 30 km from Tokyo. From 1911, the Japanese flew their Farman III’s using the airfield as their home base. From March 1922, operations moved to the newly constructed Tachikawa airfield. Initially used for military operations only, in 1929, Japan Air Transport inaugurated the country’s first commercial scheduled air service between Tachikawa and Osaka. The flight took three hours.

As the airline expanded, the airfield began to see more scheduled flights, including flights to Dalian (China) and Seoul (Korea). The civil operations continued until 1933, when a new dedicated civil airport was opened, known as “Tokyo Airfield”. It was later renamed the Tokyo International Airport at Haneda. This is still in use today as Tokyo’s main domestic airport.

Tachikawa airfield got hard surface runways during WW2 and became an important military airbase after the war, used by the US military during both Korean and Vietnam wars. The airport was formally returned to the Japanese government in 1977. Although reduced considerably in size, 100 years after it first opened, Tachikawa is still in use today, though mainly used as a helicopter base. Tokorozawa was decommissioned after WW2 and is now the location of an aviation museum.