Mostly known for being the site of Tokyo’s main international airport, Narita is a city that should merit more attention for its own share of attractions. It boasts of nature, culture, food, and interesting activities – perfect for last minute meanderings while waiting for your flight home or killing time during a layover.
In and around Narita City
1. Visit Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple and the neighborhood around it comprise the city’s #1 attraction. A Buddhist temple complex with a history of over a thousand years, it is known for its spacious grounds and a broad variety of structures like pagodas and temple halls. Its most important monument is the statue of the Buddhist deity Fudo Myuo, which is said to have been carved by Kobo Daishi, one of Japan’s most important religious figures in history.
Address: 1 Narita, Narita City, Chiba Prefecture
2. Eat eels around Naritasan Temple
Eel is the local food specialty in Narita, and luckily, you will find them in abundance in the maze of shopping streets that lead to Naritasan Temple. There’s no shortage of eel restaurants in the area serving popular dishes like unadon (grilled eel on rice) and unagi no kabayaki (charcoal grilled eel), but if you want the best-tasting ones, you can never go wrong with an establishment with more than a hundred-year-old history. Look for Kawatoyo Honten and indulge in traditional eel dishes.
Address: 386 Nakamachi, Narita, Chiba Prefecture
Price: ¥2,000 ~ ¥2,999
3. Shop at Omotesando Road
Narita Omotesando is the 800-meter long road that stretches from JR Narita Station to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. It is a charming street with a preserved Edo-period atmosphere, always bustling with commerce as it is lined all the way with numerous restaurants, souvenir shops, snack stands, and the like. As earlier mentioned, do not miss the opportunity to try the eel dishes. Other famous goods include senbei rice crackers, yokan (sweet bean traditional desserts), local sake, and handcrafted items like baskets and chopsticks for souvenirs.
Address: 1 Narita, Narita City, Chiba Prefecture
4. Relax at Naritasan Park
Naritasan Park is a 65000m² park inside the property of Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. This is a place to practice Buddhism’s teaching to precious every life. Different flowers bloom in each season and various sights in the park never make visitors bored.
Address: 1, Narita, Narita City Chiba
5. Enjoy the Edo (old Tokyo) scenery at Sawara Town
Just 30 minutes by train from JR Narita Station, the historic town of Sawara is well worth the visit especially if you have an affinity for old Japan. This place looks exactly as it did 200 years ago – a small canal town filled with traditional residences, merchant houses, and other important buildings. It is also known for its Sawara Festival, which is held twice yearly in July and October. During this time, floats decorated with giant dolls representing characters from Japanese myths are paraded all over the town.
Address: Sawara, Katori City, Chiba Prefecture
6. Visit Katori Shrine
Katori Shrine is one of the oldest and most important Shinto shrines in Japan. Dedicated to Futsunushi no Mikoto, the protector of warriors, there are actually over 400 Katori Shrines all over Japan, but this one, in particular, is considered the head shrine of them all. Located not too far from Sawara, this religious site is also a great place to visit for its beautiful forests. Best times to visit are during spring for cherry blossoms and fall season for the autumn foliage.
Address: 1697-1 Katori, Katori City, Chiba Prefecture
Website: http://www.katori-jingu.or.jp/ (Japanese only)
7. Boso no Mura
Boso no Mura Folk Village is a recreated samurai town that aims to educate visitors of how life was in Boso Region (present-day Chiba) during the Edo Period. It offers a glimpse into not just the architecture and atmosphere of a traditional folk village, but also the everyday activities of locals during those times. Aside from sightseeing, visitors can participate in a variety of old-school activities such as traditional paper-making, blacksmithing, and depending on the season, even crop harvesting.
Address: 1028 Ryukakuji, Sakae-machi, Imba-gun, Chiba Prefecture
Price: ¥300 (Adults), ¥150 (Students – College & High School), Free (Age 65 and up, Junior High School students and younger)
8. Narita Wholesalers’s Market
A last minute market run is also possible when in Narita. The Narita Wholesaler’s Market is near the airport and if you missed out on the Tsukiji Market experience, here’s your chance to observe something like it. The market is open every morning except on Sundays, holidays, and some Wednesdays. There’s a tuna auction happening every 5:30 AM. Visitors are welcome to observe but only by reservation.
Address: 49-2 Iinaka, Narita, Chiba Prefecture
9. Participate in festivals
Participating in festivals is always a great idea when traveling around Japan. As with other cities, Narita has a year-long line-up of events with the biggest ones happening in February for the Setsubun Festival, in April for the Taiko Drum Festival, and in September for the Otaiya Festival. The city’s biggest celebration is the Narita Gion Festival, which is scheduled every July at the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. Over the course of three days, visitors can watch daytime and nighttime parades, marvel at powerful dance performances, immerse in the local culture, and enjoy the celebratory atmosphere of the city.
10. Narita Dream Dairy Farm
Narita Dream Dairy Farm is a nice option if you’re craving nature and wide open spaces. This countryside farm, which is open to day visitors, is a 300,000 sqm. property to enjoy fresh farm produce like milk, ice cream, and yogurt, as well as experiential activities for the kids such as cow milking, duck racing, and pony rides. The farm also has a park for picnics and tent pitching. Sit back, relax, and while the time away in greenery before hopping on a plane to your next destination.
Address: 730 Nagi, Narita, Chibu Prefecture
Price: ¥1,400 (Junior High School students and older), ¥700 (Elementary students), ¥1,200 (Seniors age 65 and older), Free (Children under 3)
Inside Narita International Airport
11. Enjoy Japanese food before flying home
If perhaps you haven’t had your fill yet of authentic Japanese food, it’s not at all a problem since many known Japanese restaurants have branches inside the Narita International Airport. To name a few, there’s Botejyu for okonomiyaki, Tonkatsu Inaba Wako for deep-fried pork cutlets, Sanbei for udon, and Kyotatsu for sushi. Leave the country with the taste of your favorite Japanese dish still lingering in your mouth!
12. Relax at the observation deck
Some of the simple joys you can enjoy for free while waiting for your flight is to sit back and relax while admiring the view from the airport’s observation decks. Both of Narita International Airport’s terminals are free public spaces. The one near Terminal 1 is particularly stunning as it offers the best views of the main runway.
13. Relax at Narita Skylounge Wa
Another free perk for travelers transiting in Narita is the Narita Skylounge Wa. It is a lounge space located in the access way leading to Terminal 2, designed to provide comfort and entertainment to passengers while waiting for their respective flights. It has napping areas, a café, and massage chairs, while attractions like Gallery Toto are also nearby.
14. Get a “sushi nail” manicure at Nail Quick
Here’s something special for the ladies. You can also have your nails done at Nail Quick while waiting for your boarding time. This salon is an expert at nail care and if you want to make things more fun, go a step above a regular manicure job by opting for the nail art packages instead. You can design your nails like sushi or rock a studded look. Whatever you end up choosing, it will surely be a stunning piece of artwork you’re wearing.
15. Experience the future of bathroom at Gallery TOTO
It is pretty common knowledge that Japanese toilets are amazing – so much that a gallery dedicated to showcasing the future of Japanese bathrooms is something that doesn’t seem too far-fetched. Gallery TOTO, located at the Narita Sky Lounge Wa, is a live exhibit of state-of-the-art bathrooms as imagined by TOTO, Japan’s largest toilet manufacturer. It is also available for use by the public.
All price information in this article is as of June 2017.
Thumbnail image is from Flickr.