From the wiki: “Haneda Airfield first opened in 1931. It was Japan’s largest civil airport at the time it was constructed, and took over from the army air base at Tachikawa as the main operating base of Japan Air Transport, then the country’s flag carrier. The first flight from the airport on August 25, 1931 carried cargo to Dalian (Port Arthur), Manchuria.
“In the late 1930s the Tokyo government began planning for a new Tokyo Municipal Airport, to be built on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. The project, delayed by World War II, was officially abandoned following the war after the Allied Occupation authorities favored expanding the existing Haneda airfield rather than building a new airport.
“During the Occupation (1945-1952), the field was rebuilt and enlarged and used mainly as a military and civilian transportation base used by the U.S. Army and Air Force as a transit base for C-54 transport planes, departing San Francisco en route to the Far East and returning flights, via the Air Transport Command. A number of C-54s, originally based at Haneda AFB and specially outfitted for hauling coal, participated in the Berlin Airlift (1948-49).
“Northwest Airlines is preparing to build an aeronautical radio station with an operating range of 3,500 miles at Haneda airport near Tokyo. It will be used both for point-to-point and air-ground service along Northwest’s Orient route, principally to link together the stations along the route.”
– American Aviation, Vol. 11, 1947
“Haneda received its first post-war international passenger flights in 1947 when Northwest Orient Airlines inaugurated DC-4 flights across the North Pacific to the United States, and within Asia to China, South Korea, and the Philippines. Pan American World Airways first made Haneda a stop on its ’round the world’ route later in 1947, with westbound DC-4 service to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Calcutta, Karachi, Damascus, Istanbul, London and New York, and eastbound Constellation service to Wake Island, Honolulu and San Francisco. Japan’s post-war flag carrier, Japan Air Lines (JAL), began its first domestic operations from Haneda in 1951 and began flying its first international routes in 1954.
“The U.S. military returned back part of the base to Japan in 1952; this portion became known as Tokyo International Airport. But, the U.S. maintained a military base at Haneda until 1958 after which the remainder of the property was returned to the Japanese government. A new passenger terminal was opened in 1955. A monorail connecting the airport to downtown Tokyo via Hamamatsucho (a 20-minute ride) was completed on the eve of the 1964 Tokyo Olympiad.
“In 1957, there were 86 domestic and 8 international departures PER WEEK from Haneda.”
“If you have ever visited Japan, and sat at the window of a departing flight, you should take a look out of the window after being pushed back from the gate. When you are pushed back from the gate, the ground crew unhooks the tow and makes sure everything is clear. You can then see them do something very Japanese. They start to wave as you start to depart and when the plane has just left their work zone, they bow to you. The Japanese ground crew all wave good bye and bow every time and I always feel a little sad when I see this as I’m leaving Japan but it makes me love Japan even more.
– Flights from Japan, Hino Maple, 2013