A hidden gem in Japan’s countryside offers a taste you’ll never forget.

Deep in western Shimane Prefecture lies Hagi Iwami Airport. It’s not nearly as big or busy as its more famous counterparts like Narita or Kansai. In fact, there are only two ANA flights coming and going there from Tokyo’s Haneda each day, which results in a lot of downtime, so the folks there have come up with some other ways generate a buzz.

One such way hit our well-traveled reporter Masanuki Sunakoma out of the blue when he was driving along the Northern Coast of Shimane. A billboard on the side of the road invited him to swing by Hagi Iwami and try some of their “Airport Honey” (Kuko Hachimitsu).

After getting an invitation like that there was only one thing to do…

On the way there, Masanuki learned that Hagi Iwami got into bee-keeping after hearing about European airports lending their vast land and open fields to the ecologically beneficial creatures. It appeared that they were the first airport in Asia to try it out, and as a result have obtained some of the best honey in the land too.

However, when Masanuki arrived and headed towards the gift shop, tragedy struck.

▼ “Airport Honey sold out”

Not only did the sign inform him the they had exhausted their supply of Airport Honey, but the also put five additional “Sold Out” stickers on the sign to really drive the point home.

This emphatic declaration made him crave the honey even more, and rather than let five stickers scare him off, he stormed over to the Kitchen Sora-La cafeteria to see if they had any.

As luck would have it, there was some Airport Honey, but it was sold as a side to a cheese pizza for 1,000 yen (US$9). That seemed like a lot for a personal sized pizza even with four types of cheese, but clearly the goal is to get at some of that sticky gold.

Out of fear this would sell out too, Masanuki quickly ordered the pizza and grabbed a seat by the window which overlooked the tarmac. It was a nice view that aviation enthusiasts would probably quite enjoy, and Masanuki was even lucky enough to catch one of the few departing flights from Hagi Iwami.

He also learned during this time that Airport Honey was the winner of the coveted Honey of the Year 2017 Award, having been deemed the best honey in Japan by a panel of honey experts. It was probably because the area had a lot of space for the bees to roams and gather the best pollen freely and without much human interference.

About eight minutes later the pizza arrived, topped with Parmesan, Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, and Gouda cheeses.

On the side was a super-tiny pitcher of honey. Masanuki was tempted to just drink it by itself but figured it’d be best to enjoy the pizza the way it was intended and drizzled it on top.

After taking a bite, it was clear to see why Airport Honey was so acclaimed, there was a buoyant sweetness to it with an aroma that mingled with the cheeses and still managed to stand out and linger.

The honey was so sweet that he could easily see himself walking around with a jug of it and drinking it straight. He used to think Winnie the Pooh was kind of weird for doing that, but now he understood.

Airport Honey isn’t the only thing Shimane’s Hagi Iwami Airport has going for it either. They wisely take advantage of their low air traffic by holding special events such as marathons and bike races on the tarmac, or chances to go out on the runway and take pictures.

It’s a great little hidden gem of Japan where you can come for the honey and stay for… well, you’d probably stay anyway because there’s no departing flights.

Restaurant information
Kitchen Sora-La / キッチンそらら
Shimane-ku, Masuda-shi, Uchida-cho i597 (Hagi Iwami Airport 2F)
Open: 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Images: SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]