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This is Tokyo Narita Airport—
known worldwide for being one of those places where the big metal things go nnneeaoowww.
This airport is home to many things,
such as Blue Sky Convenience Store Gate 92,
Blue Sky Convenience Store Gate 94, and Blue Sky Convenience Store Gate 98,
but one thing you might not expect inside an airport is a farm,
and yet here one is,
right in between this taxiway and Blue Sky Convenience Store Gate 82.
Now, many airports have unique amenities to try and help them stand apart—
Singapore Changi Airport has a slide down to a gate,
Denver International Airport has an open-air ice rink,
and Newark International Airport has a casino where you don’t gamble money
but rather your possessions on whether your baggage will arrive in a single piece.
Tokyo Narita’s farm, however,
is not some bougie airport amenity, it’s not decoration,
it’s a real, working farm owned by someone named this guy.
This is Takao Shito and Takao Shito is the son of Toichi Shito, the father of Takao Shito,
but also the owner of this farm back in the 1960s.
This area, however, had been farmland since the year 700-ish
when the emperor was like, “yo, make this farmland.”
因为当时的天皇说 “哟 把这建成耕地”
A couple years later Japan sort of took the “L” in World War Two
so the Americans came around and were like,
“yo, don’t do the monarchy thing any more,
or at least make it low-key.”
So, as part of the low-key-afying of the whole monarchy thing,
they sold off a lot of the emperor’s farmland around here to mostly poor people
who then did the farming thing.
Such they did happily
until the 1960s-ish when the government was like,
“yo, we need this land to do the airport thing.”
You see, Japan was doing the economic development thing
which meant more travelers coming in, which meant more airplanes,
which meant that this, the original Haneda Airport, was not big enough.
Also, it was in the middle of the city… and ocean…
which meant it wasn’t really possible to make it much bigger.
Therefore, the government had the genius idea to make a new airport here…
no, a little further… little further…
不对 还要远点…… 再远点……
yeah, more… yeah, there.
再往这来点…… 对 这里
They had the genius idea to make a new airport a full hour’s drive outside of the city.
Now, we all love a nice, sexy slab of asphalt, of course…
that is, unless it goes over your family’s farm,
because, if I know anything about farming,
it’s that crop yield is inversely proportional to whether there’s a slab of asphalt over your fields.
Of course, it turned out that this sexy slab of asphalt would, in fact,
go over Takao Shito’s farm, along with a bunch of others’ too, and the locals didn’t like that,
so naturally, they went full Les Miserables.
I mean, look at this, he’s got a spear,
我是说 你看这人 他拿着长矛
and this guy too, they’ve all got spears,
and they built a barricade—I mean,
say what you want about Japanese obedience and manners,
but these protesters go hard.
Now, of course, the airport wasn’t going to be big enough to cover all these protestors’ farms,
that would be impressive,
but rather, the protests got so large
because they kind of struck a nerve
with the some of the increasingly prominent socialist opposition political parties
in Japan who were particularly concerned with the rise in capitalism
and the increasing US military presence in the country.
They were so hardcore, in fact, that they built and defended huge towers
physically blocking the approach path for the runways,
delaying the airport’s opening for years,
but with time, the land was acquired, and the airport was built.
Except, there was just one bit that the government could never get.
You see, after the opposition got so,
you know, Do-You-Hear-the-People-Sing-Y,
the government picked a new site close by
on what was left of the Goryō Farm—
the Emperor’s property since the year 700 when he went,
“yo, make this farmland.”
“哟 把这建成农场” 这儿就成了皇室财产
Except, since monarchy became so passé, it was much smaller,
只是 自从君主制式微 农场缩得更小了
and not quite big enough to put the airport on,
so they still had to buy land from other farmers
who had bought it originally from
when the land was sold off to make the monarchy more low-key.
The government had little ability to seize the land
due to Japan’s strong legal protections for farmers,
but they did manage to strong-arm most owners into selling, except for Toichi Shito.
He and his son were offered up to the equivalent of $1.7 million for his farm,
but never gave in,
especially with the strong support they got from the anti-airport movement.
Therefore, Shito and his family stayed there,
the airport was constructed around him,
and tunnels were built under the taxi-ways to allow for access, undoubtably at huge cost.
With the enormous delays due to the protesters’ continued oppositions,
which included highlights
such as the throwing of raw sewage onto the riot police,
the airport wasn’t opened for a number of years after Shito’s encircling.
When it finally was,
few airlines really wanted to switch their flights over to it from Haneda
because, after all, it was super, super far from the city.
So, the government made Haneda airport domestic-only,
forcing airlines to switch over,
and suddenly Shito’s neighbors got a lot more noisy.
That was of no worry to him, though,
and he continued farming there until his death in 1999
when his son, Takao, took over.
To this day, Takao kinda just lives his life,
despite being in the middle of an international airport,
growing carrots, onions, garlic, and more
that he sells at nearby markets,
helped in part by those who carry on the anti-airport movement,
only with fewer bamboo spears.
Reportedly, the pandemic and ensuing drop in air travel has,
at least, let him enjoy a slightly less noisy backyard.
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