Takamatsu Airport is an international airport that obviously services Takamatsu. The airport is one of the best ways to get in and out of Shikoku as Takamatsu is the largest city on the island. I have used it a few times to visit the Setouchi Triennale and I would happily use it over taking the train from Tokyo. It is a short 1 hour flight from Tokyo and there are several flights each day. Takamatsu Airport is a small airport with only 4 gates, but they are used often making it a busy airport overall.
Getting to the airport is pretty easy but there is only 1 real option. The Airport Limousine is a bus service that goes to and from the airport. The main route is to JR Takamatsu Station, but it is not a direct service as the buses do stop along the way. Thankfully it goes directly along the main street to the airport so it isn’t a roundabout service. It costs less than 1000 yen to get from the city centre all the way to the airport, and vice versa. During the peak times, buses often run constantly so you never have to worry about missing a bus. When I arrived, the flights disembark; you buy your ticket to your destination; and then board the next bus. The buses to Takamatsu city centre usually wait until they are full and then depart, otherwise they depart on schedule. It is a huge flurry of activity when several flights arrive at the same time and it can be a bit stressful if you don’t know what you are doing, but thankfully it is organized. If you are heading to Marugame, Utazu, or Sakaide, it is the same process but a different bus bay. Kotohira is also serviced by the buses but the system is a little different.
Note: Buses will usually wait if a flight is delayed in arrival.
When you land at Takamatsu Airport, there are a couple of things you need to do to make things smooth. If you are travelling alone and have no bags to get, the first thing you need to do is get out of the secure area. I made a few mistakes once but learned my lesson. I usually need to use the washroom the second I land at an airport and I made the mistake of using the washroom inside the secure area. There is only one in the domestic side and the line can be long. The washrooms in the public area are not as busy for obvious reasons. The second mistake I made was to not buy a bus ticket right away. The lines can grow quickly so it is better to purchase a ticket before looking around the airport. I recommend doing so and then looking around a little before heading to your destination. However, beware of the departure time or you may be waiting a long time for the next flight to arrive.
When leaving via any airport, I love looking around and seeing what they have to offer. I usually arrive early so I could head straight to the observation deck. There is an elevator and the sky walk over the terminal is really interesting and art like. The observation deck is like any other airport observation deck and the views are nice. While it can be difficult to see planes at the far ends of the runway, you can easily see them taking off and landing. The sunset is also really nice from the observation deck.
The first floor is all business in the terminal. It is the main arrivals floor, so you get your bags, get tickets to the city, and you can rent a car if you need to. Basically all of the regular services you expect in an airport. You also check-in to your flight on the first floor. Domestic services are pretty straight forward with only JAL, ANA, and Jetstar flying to Takamatsu. They each have their own small areas. The international check-in is generally busy during check-in and I would advise you to arrive early if you are on an international flight. It is not fun and it appeared they were understaffed.
The second floor is where all the shops are. The domestic side has a couple of shopping areas with plenty of things to buy. There are your typical Kagawa souvenirs as well as a few souvenirs from around Shikoku. I wasn’t really interested in most things but the prices were reasonable and everything you can find in the city can be found at the airport, with some exceptions.
The international side was pretty boring. There is a small convenience store and the Setouchi Triennale artwork Welcome / Funny Blue by Véronique Joumard. The artwork is at the staircase next to the international check-in counters. While it may look simple and boring, it did grow on me the more I saw it and it is beautiful. You also have to look at the second floor window as there is a film that changes the way the light looks. Thankfully they have a rest area with good chairs nearby to enjoy the view.
While I didn’t go on an international flight, I did peak inside the international departures area. Let’s just say that I would hate to leave Japan from Takamatsu. The departures area has no windows that I could see and it was dark. People were not packed like sardines but there definitely wasn’t enough space to feel relaxed.
The domestic departures area was really nice. I remember the Matsuyama Airport being terrible but Takamatsu wasn’t bad. There was good natural light coming in and the lights at night weren’t bad either. There are 2 small shops on either end run by JAL and ANA. The JAL side had Takamatsu chicken as well as Kagawa beer on tap. It was really nice but the ANA side was a lot better for me. The ANA Festa shop had healthier food options and they had Umenishiki beer, Matsuyama’s craft beer. I love that beer and it is one of my favourites on Shikoku, so obviously I had to get a beer while I was there.
Takamatsu Airport is a good airport and while I can’t recommend spending more time than you need to, I don’t think it is so bad that you can’t enjoy yourself. The observation deck is nice, the shopping is good enough, and the departures area (domestic) is comfortable. I really can’t complain about this airport. Just a piece of advice, if you want to drink before your flight, get a beer or two at the convenience store before going to the domestic departures area. No liquids allowed on international flights, but domestic is okay if it isn’t opened.