More than just a getaway to Tokyo, the city of Narita also has much to offer for visitors from food to attractions at a much slower pace.
After exiting the region in four years ago, AirAsia X recently resumed its flights from Kuala Lumpur to Narita International Airport. Many sees Narita International Airport as another airport option to fly into Tokyo with the airport being an hour away from Japan’s capital by train. The proximity of Narita to Tokyo also makes it a great stop for tourists before going into the capital. However, the city of Narita itself has much to offer and to show off the best of what Chiba prefecture has to offer.
With a wide variety of attractions from mega malls to nature valleys, Narita has something for almost everyone visiting. It would be a waste to simply visit Narita just to use the airport. So instead of hopping on the first train or bus to Tokyo, why not spend a couple of days in Narita, Chiba? In fact, here are five things worth checking out in the city.
1. Narita-san Omotesando
Just ten-minute ride away from the airport is Narita Station. And right outside the station is Narita-san Omotesando, an 800-meter path leading to the Narita-san Shinsho-ji temple. A stroll through this old town street will give you a sense of Japan through the regional delicacy of eel and the traditional festivals. Its buildings have existed since the Edo Era and several are still operational as the Onoya Inn and the Mitsuhashi Pharmacy. Both of these two buildings have been designated as Narita City Tangible Cultural Properities. Should you need any help, the Narita Tourist Center is located strategically halfway through.
2. Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple
At Narita-san Shinsho-ji, you can get a feel of Buddhism amidst an ambiance of peace and serenity. It is recommended to spend at least an hour here especially if you wish to catch a glimpse of historic Japan. The temple was built in the year 940 around the main sacred object of worship, the Buddhist Fudo Myoo deity. Here, you can also experience shakyo, the practice of hand-copying sutras. It has been said that performing shakyo without being disturbed can earn you Buddha’s favour and this activity has been growing in popularity amongst visitors to the temple.
3. Narita-san Park
Slightly further beyond Narita-san Shinsho-ji lies a 58-meter-high pagoda known as the Great Peace Pagoda. The beautiful picturesque Narita-san Park lies at the foot of this towering monument. All year round, this park is beautiful with its delicate curtains of plums in spring, lush green in summer and mesmerizing gold and red leaves during the fall. In the center of the park is a pond filled with koi fishes and a waterfall that offers a calming place for visitors to relax.
4. Narita Gion Festival
The Narita Gion Festival boasts a 300-year history and is annually held in early July.
For three days, ten floats and heavy stages led by o-mikoshi portable shrines are pulled around all day until the evening. During this period, you would be able to see crowds of locals and visitors lining Narita-san Ometosando from the station to Yakushiji-do Hall to see this grand spectacle. The procession continues on from the hall to the main gate up a slope during which participants and audiences continue to give intense and high-spirted cheers. The mass dance at the front of the station is also worth checking out as it sets the tone and mood of the entire event.
5. Narita Delicacies
Since the Edo period, eel has been a Narita delicacy and is popular for its high nutritional value, especially for long journeys between Narita to Tokyo and of course, its availability in the area. Just past the middle of the street is Kawatoyo where you can see staff filleting eel at the storefront. Walking through that smoky sweet aroma is also one of the things to look forward to. For something sweet, do also give kuri-yokan (chestnut bean jelly) a try. You can get it at Nagomi-no-Yoneya, an establishment that opened in 1899 and also doubles as a yokan museum. Keep an eye out for Saheiji Kawamura Store which is known for the famous Teppo-zuke pickles, a great palate cleanser after munching on grilled unagi and chestnut bean jelly.
And there you have it, five reasons why Narita should be on your next destination in Japan to visit. For Malaysians looking to explore Narita and Chiba Prefecture, airlines such as MAS, ANA, and JAL offer nonstop flights into Narita International Airport on a weekly basis from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) while AirAsia X departs from KLIA2.