What could possibly go wrong?

A common situation when visiting or living in other countries is having to talk about where you come from. Unless you happen to be from one of the handful of major metropolises in the world, chances are people abroad will never have heard of your particular hometown.

One way around this is to simply lie, claim you come from the most nearby urban center, and hope for no follow-up questions. Admittedly that’s not an ideal solution and can backfire in a number of ways, but it’s nevertheless exactly the marketing tactic being considered by Ibaraki Airport.

On 28 May, it was announced that the facility in Omitama City, Ibaraki Prefecture may be given the nickname “Tokyo Ibaraki Airport” if approved by the governor of Ibaraki.  This might not sound strange until you realize the airport is not in Tokyo at all. 

Anyone landing in Tokyo Ibaraki Airport ought to expect an over two-hour journey before reaching Tokyo Station. Relatively speaking, that is somewhat convenient access to Tokyo and since this airport specializes in low-cost flights, it’s probably worth considering. Still, disappointment likely lies in store for anyone landing there under the impression that they’d be arriving right in the heart of Tokyo.

Originally a military air base, its runways were expanded to accommodate civilian flights in 2010. Many questioned the move, considering it would be in direct competition with the likes of Narita and Haneda, both highly regarded airports at home and abroad. Now, it is hoped that by adding “Tokyo” to the name, Ibaraki Airport’s brand awareness will be raised outside of Japan, allowing them to compete with those heavyweights.

▼ Since the area is still shared with JASDF Hyakuri Air Base, it’s also a neat place to catch a glimpse of some fighter jets

It’s not such a crazy idea, since Tokyo Disneyland isn’t in Tokyo either. It’s technically in Chiba Prefecture, but I imagine people probably put more stock in geographical accuracy when it comes to airports than amusement parks.

The nickname is only expected to be used for overseas promotion rather than domestically, where the inaccuracy is more glaringly obvious, as shown in comments about the news.

“That’s a Chiba move, like Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo German Village.”
“At least Chiba is next to Tokyo Bay, so they can kind of get away with it.”
“I can imagine someone landing there and saying, ‘Boy, Tokyo is a lot more rural than I expected.'”
“That’s… I don’t know about that.”
“Oh, they have to stop that. It’s embarrassing.”
“Isn’t this technically fraud?”
“I think a lot of people are going to get lost.”

For what it’s worth, Ibaraki is a lovely prefecture with many claims to fame, such as being the only Japanese prefecture without monkeys and being the leading producer of smelly fermented soy beans known as natto. So, at least anyone getting misled there can still find much to do and enjoy.

▼ Ibaraki also boasts a high rate of muscular semi-nude men per capita

The name would probably be effective at getting people’s attention as an alternative entry-point to Tokyo, but the pros and cons of such a move ought to be carefully weighed before the governor of Ibaraki makes his decision this June. We here at TokyoSoraNews24 will keep abreast of the situation as it develops.

Source: Asahi Shimbun, Hamusoku
Top image: Wikipedia/Abasaa
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