Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Narita city is located approximately 60km northeast of Tokyo and is home international flights in and out of Tokyo - Narita Airport...

...In recent years Haneda Airport, also serving the Greater Tokyo Area has developed an international terminal but Narita Airport is still considered the gateway to Tokyo.

Visitors in Narita are often in transit and airline staff often congregate in this town. Due to this there are hotels near Narita city and even more near the airport. There are a few attractions in the vicinity to occupy the time between flights (whether that is a couple of hours or a day or two) that will bring a taste of the charming old town.

The easiest way to commute between Narita city and the airport is via the Narita City Round bus run by the city. Buses depart from both terminals and stop at major locations in the city. This is also the best way to get around town. Trains and taxis are also available from the airport.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a Shingon Buddhist temple complex built in the year 940. A variety of temple buildings congregate on the Naritasan grounds. Approaching the temple from the train station is a narrow street - Omotesando, of traditional wooden stores selling crafts, food and souvenirs, about a kilometre long. These stores have been around for centuries and is a major part of the attraction.

Naritasan Park is behind the temple and is a beautiful garden full of Japanese native flora.

Naritasan Calligraphy Museum is a short walk from the temple. There is a lack of English guides but for those interested in Japanese Calligraphy this is a very specialised museum.

The National Museum of Japanese History or Rekihaku is run by the government and traces the shitory and cultural development of the Japanese. Whilst most of the exhibition is permanent there is a seventh gallery in the Museum that hosts temporary exhibitions. English audio guides are available, free of charge, for most of the permanent exhibitions. The museum is not far from the airport at the former Sakura Castle grounds.

The Museum of Aeronautical Sciences is located just by the Narita Airport. This interactive museum displays replicas of historic planes as well as simulators. An opportunity to try piloting a plane is one of the most popular attractions in the museum. There is an observation deck on the third floor, a replica of the observatory in a flight control tower and a restaurant. In the front yard of the museum there are smaller propeller planes and helicopters on display, some of these have simulators. This a great place to spend time 2 to 3 hours while waiting for the next flight.

Aeon Narita is a shopping mall close to the airport. A popular place for foreign travellers, with over 150 stores, including a Muji, international cuisine and for those with a few hours to kill there is a cinema next to the mall.

Sawara is a small town northeast of Narita that used to be a transport hub for rice shipments going to capital city. The area along the canal is known as 'Little Edo' because of the preserved and restored traditional buildings that still exist in the area dating back from the Edo Period. There are boat tours available from the Ja Ja Bridge that travel up and canal. In July and October one may run into the Sawara Matsuri festival that is celebrated in town twice a year.

Boso No Mura is an open air living museum of traditional Japanese culture, lifestyle and craft. Visitors can participate in traditional paper making, blacksmithing, tea ceremony and even try on Japanese armour. This museum town is about a 40 min train ride away from the airport.

Where is your favourite place to spend time in between flights at Narita Airport?

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Japan, Tokyo, Narita, Gateway



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