With Japan now offering multiple-entry visa for tourists, it has become even easier to just get on a plane and visit this ever enchanting land of the rising sun.
The country always has a special place in my heart, and upon arrival at Narita International Airport, I could already feel the charm, and excitement ahead of me, even though I would only have a day in Narita. You could also call it a “layover” trip.
We hoped onto the shuttle bus, which took us to the Narita View Hotel and after we had checked into our room, unpack and relax, we set out to our first destination of the day, Naritasan Temple. However, having missed our shuttle bus, we decided to take the taxi (not really recommended) to the temple as we did not want to wait for another bus which would only arrive in an hour.
It took us 10 minutes from our hotel before arriving at the temple gate. We could see tourists, both locals and foreigners, flocking past the gate. Naritasan Temple is one of the attractions, especially during layovers for passengers arriving and departing Narita International Airport, which is also accessible by train and some 15 minute walk through Omotesando, or generally the pathway leading to the shrine. Along the way, you could find shops selling local souvenirs and delicacies, a good place to do your last minute shopping before leaving Japan.
While walking through the main gate, we came upon large statues of the guardians of the temples at either sides. Walking further and up the stairs, we were entering the main temple itself. However, to get to the main hall, we would have to walk across the bridge over the pond with numerous turtles and kois, and a few more steps up the hill. Along the way, we could see stone engravings, as well as statues of gods, though some of them look more like demons to many.
As there was a ceremony inside the main hall, we only make our wishes in front before decided to take a walk in the garden next to it.
The Zen garden is huge with Koi ponds, which we could refer to as lakes by some measures. The abundance of greeneries, trees and insects make me envy of how well Japanese preserve their natures comparing to what we did back home in Thailand. In fact, Narita is within 30 minutes of Tokyo by train and we could find such place is amazing on its own.
After we finished touring the garden, it was lunchtime and my wife advised that Narita is well-known for its eels. And she was right. Many of the eateries along the Omotesando, or pathways leading to the shrine, feature barbecue eels as their main dishes. Some of the stalls have long queues of both local and foreign clienteles waiting to test such feast. However, we decided to try one of the smaller stalls to avoid the line. Nonetheless, it did not disappoint.
Walking through the narrow street had been very enjoyable, especially when the weather was just right. We took time to walk through the shops on both sides of the street, enjoying some ice cream, as well as local toys along the way. With my small and lightweight X-E1, I was really enjoying the weather, people and place during our afternoon stroll.
After the peace from temple visits, the next activities that tourists could do would definitely be some shoppings at the Aeon mall or some might want to go to the newly opened Shisui Premium Outlet some 30 minutes away by JR train and shuttle bus. That shopping part would really depend on your preferences though my personal recommendation would be the Aeon mall as it is closer and there are already very good selections of stores within the mall, as well as some interesting shops nearby.
So ask yourselves what kind of activities suit you and follow your heart. Above is only some suggestions as to a possible layover in Narita. Just make your time count. Enjoy your travels.