I am an unabashed fan of Haneda Airport. I love its design, it ambience and its insistence on being passenger friendly in almost every way. Haneda is simply a great airport and visiting leaves me feeling almost giddy, as if I had travelled the world without actually stepping out onto the streets.
This time, though, the arrival lobby greeted me with an empty vessel, a ghost town if there ever was one. Staff seemed to outnumber visitors and a general hush had enveloped the airport with the absence of passengers. The current health concerns that have spread around the world were never more apparent to me than with the silence of Haneda Airport.
Despite all of this, Haneda's style is still very much in evidence. The massive scale-built replica of Japan's famous Nihonbashi Bridge is naturally a focal point and has captured my attention since the first time I had visited. Half the size of the original, the bridge is replete with great views over the airport and features folding screen artwork displaying the old city of Edo and its many districts.
A modern take on a traditional market experience, the airport's Edo Koji shopping alley is filled with souvenir stores and places to dine. A stroll here always sees me question whether my budget is too low... but I can at least still wander the almost-alleys and admire what was on offer.
A visual feast, if not for the belly then certainly for the eyes is the Edo Butai, a stage featuring unique aspects of traditional Japanese culture and arts. Decorative in the fullest, the stage offers visitors an aesthetic respite from the business of travelling and like the Haneda Nihonbashi Bridge, is a focal point of the airport.
Being surrounded by challenging times may have changed the atmosphere of my favourite airport but it certainly didn't dampen my respect for it. Once the current climate blows over - and it will - Haneda Airport will continue on being one of the best airports in the world.