Ten minutes by train from Narita International Airport with which it shares a name, Narita is a charming Japanese town with a rich history. Whether you are looking for a day trip out of Tokyo or to fit in one more afternoon’s sightseeing on the way to the airport, Narita offers many attractive sights and activities.
Narita has a history of over 1,000 years with the formation of Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in 940AD. From the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573) onwards, Narita’s location as a midpoint between Tokyo Bay and the Pacific Ocean, as well as its proximity to several rivers, made it a natural center for culture and trade. Narita prospered in the Edo period when the Kanto region became the economic and political center of Japan, thanks to business from the Tone River and Shinshoji’s status as a pilgrimage destination. Narita’s tradition as a transportation hub continued with the opening of Narita International Airport in 1978 which, although originally protested by locals, has led to an economic and tourism boost for the town.
To enjoy the best of Narita’s traditional sights, head out of the East Exit at JR Narita Station. Go north onto the winding Nakamichi street, lined with restaurants and izakaya that fight for the patronage of airline crew. Among these, Ramen Bayashi stands out for its balance of quality and authenticity with accessibility for non-Japanese speakers (English menus available). Continue walking for about 10 minutes and you will reach the main Narita Omotesando shopping area, a busy traditional street with many beautiful historic buildings. As well as having a wide range of traditional Japanese souvenirs, the Omotesando is a great place to enjoy Narita’s signature dish: freshwater eel. Rich in nutritional value, this cuisine has been popular in Narita for hundreds of years thanks to Narita’s fertile wetlands and the ease of fishing in nearby Lake Imba. Walk a little further and you will come to the stunning outer gate of Shinshoji Temple.
If you are stopping over at Narita International Airport and want a taste of Japan or if you are planning a traditional style daytrip, Narita holds a similar spiritual appeal to better known destinations such as Nara or Kamakura. From Narita International Airport Terminal 2, taking the Narita Line for one stop to JR Narita Station will cost you 200 yen. Coming from Tokyo, the Keisei Line from Nippori Station to Keisei-Narita station costs 780 yen and takes just over an hour.
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NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR