Photographing Planes at Kansai International Airport

In the next of my series of posts about photographing planes, I will be focussing on Kansai International Airport (KIX, 関西国際空港) also known as Kansai Airport (関西空港) or Kanku (関空) . I visited the airport during my busy fieldwork trip to Japan, holding research interviews at the airport.

The airport is on a man-made island in Osaka Bay and, since opening in 1994, has been the main airport in the Kansai region serving Osaka, Kobe (Kobe Airport was built later), Kyoto, Wakayama, etc, and replacing the much smaller Itami Airport.

I remember watching a documentary series in the UK about the building of KIX. One of the things that stuck in my mind was how the designer, Renzo Piano, wasn’t happy when a station building was added on to the back of the terminal and ruined the lines of the terminal building that he had put so much effort. Due to the effort that he put into the lines of the building, he also neglected to add an observation deck, which no longer feature on many European airports, but which remain a component of Japanese airports, as I have written about before (see, for example, my post on Mt Fuji Shizuoka Airport). The end result at KIX is that a dedicated observation building with a free shuttle bus provided between it and the main terminal. Due to its location you can get, depending on the wind direction, some good shots of planes landing and taking-off, from a different angle than you get at most airports. However, with the expansion of the airport (and additional terminal), you may find that some planes use the other runway, which is further away.

On the day I visited in 1993, no planes landed on the runway by the observation deck, but it was still good to see a big variation in planes – including my favourite, the 747, and also some freight planes (part of the reason why the airport was built was to allow additional freight flights, particularly at night).

A sign at the observation deck showing the distance to some other cities
View of the airport from the observation deck

See details about other photographs I have used in my research here.

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