Travelers landing at Narita Airport often skip over Narita city and plan to travel to other famous regions like Tokyo. Those just stopping off in Narita Airport might want to explore the city while they wait for their connecting flight. However, with a time constraint during a layover period, this can be tricky.
Narita city, which is just ten minutes away from the airport, is a beautiful and culturally rich town that is worth a visit. It is a calm, quiet city with traditional streets and a few places to go shopping while you wait for your flight. The nearby town of Sakura is also a good place to go if your layover is long. Here is a list of things to explore next time you have a stopover at Narita Airport.
Naritasan Temple is the must-see spot of the city. The traditional street that leads to the temple has a lot of stories to tell about Japan and its culture, and this is also a great place to buy traditional souvenirs. The tourist information center located at this street welcomes travelers with a tea ceremony and a kimono wearing ceremony on weekdays. This temple is about a kilometer from the JR Keisei Narita Station.
At the entrance, a pot of smoking incense sticks welcomes people with its own aroma. You can see a lot of children and women dressed in the traditional Japanese attire, the kimono. At the main temple hall, prayers done by the monks are listened to by hundreds of people. The hall is peaceful and the vibrations due to the chanting create a positive atmosphere, helping the soul attain peace.
After a peaceful worship at the temple, people can take a stroll around Naritasan Garden just beside the temple.
The evergreen Naritasan Garden welcomes the travelers with three ponds, majestic traditional architecture with a small waterfall, and a lush green trail. The garden is most colorful in autumn, so if you’re going to be there between September and November, you may see some lovely autumn foliage. Birds chirping and a variety of fish in the ponds make it a pleasant place to relax and feel closer to nature. People with a deep love for gardens and greenery would love this place.
There is also a mall nearby called AEON, which has a big 100-yen shop and other places to grab souvenirs. A shuttle bus runs between Narita Station and the mall, which makes it easier for visitors.
A tour shuttle bus runs between Sakura Station and the famous tourist spots in the city. The famous Sakura Furusato offers spectacular views of cherry blossom trees in the sakura season, which is around late March and early April. If you happen to be in the city in other seasons, you can still enjoy other flowers. I happened to visit in the month of October and I had the chance to see a cosmos flower field with a Dutch-style windmill backdrop.
Remember to get some food before arriving here as the options are limited to just one food court.
There is also a bamboo trail and some historic samurai warrior houses on the way back from Sakura Furusato to Sakura Station. The samurai houses are well preserved and they give you a taste of the samurai life from a long time ago.
There is a small entry fee to be paid (about 300 yen) and a tour guide explains the significance of samurai warriors and their lifestyle. Traditional Japanese houses and the model samurai attires shown here remind us of the people from centuries ago who had completely different lifestyles to us.
A one-day trip to Narita and Sakura is bound to take a visitor deep into Japanese ancient culture and closer to nature. It’s also a much better way to spend your layover time than sitting at the airport! If you’re waiting for a connecting flight, consider taking a trip into Narita or Sakura to see these five great spots.