Fair winds to Fukuoka

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With the addition of Fukuoka as a fourth destination in Japan for summer 2016, Finnair is continuing a natural expansion.

According to Tomi Asikainen, Finnair Cargo’s sales director for Asia, Fukuoka on the southern island of Kyushu is the fourth largest air cargo and passenger market in Japan after Finnair’s three established destinations: Tokyo Narita, Osaka and Nagoya.

Finnair’s new flights to Fukuoka will operate three times a week using Airbus A330 aircraft from May 7, with timetables devised to be favorable for passenger transfers through Helsinki. The news comes at a time of reasonable optimism for the Japanese export market with the upward trend expected to continue over the rest of 2016.

“Finnair Cargo has a great partner in Japan in the form of Western Associates Inc (WAI), and also an extensive clientele whom we can support well with our services,” says Asikainen.

“We have plans to target all industries and commodities via forwarders in the area. Fukuoka and Kyushu island have plenty of pharmaceutical traffic, which Finnair Cargo is very well equipped to handle. Finnair aircraft bellies on the route will be loaded with robotics and automotive products, medical equipment, perishables, tires, semi-conductors and all kinds of general cargo.”

Fukuoka offers access to a regional market of 15 million consumers, with its strong trade connections to China and South Korea (Fukuoka is closer to Seoul than it is to Tokyo). 

Fukuoka Prefecture’s gross domestic product is about 162 million US dollars, close to those of Hong Kong and Thailand. Iconic Japanese industry leaders such as Sony, Toshiba, Matsushita, Toyota and Mitsubishi also have a strong presence in Fukuoka.

Gateway to Kyushu

As a gateway to the Kyushu region, Fukuoka has a lot going for it. “The locals tell me that Fukuoka City is really pleasant to live and work in,” says Asikainen, who knows Japan well. “The city itself is known for its excellent seafood – I’ve tried it myself and I can confirm it’s great, and I really mean fantastic!”

Nagasaki City is also within easy reach. The fact the city is synonymous with the atomic bomb explosion in 1945 is understandable. The memorials and museum that mark this shattering event are deeply affecting and worth visiting.

The locals have worked tirelessly to rebuild their city and the communities. Modern Nagasaki is lively and international, with a large amusement park nearby, as well as Catholic church spires rising near a bustling Chinatown, overlooked by colonial-style villas.

From the early seventeenth century, and although the Shogun rulers tried to keep Japan closed to the outside world, especially Dutch and Portuguese traders attempted to forge links here. The Chinese connection lingers in the form of a spectacular annual Lantern Festival.

The heat is on

Further south on Kyushu is the jaw-dropping volcanic scenery of the Aso Kujū National Park in the Kumamoto and Oita prefectures. A cluster of five peaks makes up what is referred to as the single Mount Aso. Although only one of these peaks is presently active, it billows smoke and steam, a spectacle that can be safely viewed from nearby museums and shops.

All this heated subterranean turmoil means that Kyushu is well supplied with Japan’s answer to the Finnish sauna, the onsen. Basically a hot tub of naturally hot water imbued with invigorating minerals, this national obsession is available to sample all over the island at traditional ryokan inns and hotels and at outdoor footbaths. That excellent food of which Tomi Asikainen speaks is available everywhere.

Asikainen seems excited at Finnair Cargo’s prospects in this new region, hoping that Finnair can build on its strong Japanese presence.

“We have been represented here via our partner WAI for years already,” he says. “Now it’s time to pump up more fuel to the engine.”

Text by Tim Bird
Photo by iStock

Read more about Fukuoka’s culinary scene on page 46 of the March issue of Finnair’s Blue Wings magazine.

Published March 29, 2016

Category: Local features

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