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On my last trip to Japan, I got stuck when my flight was cancelled for repairs (darn you Malaysia Airlines!). I have never travelled to Narita except to fly, and assumed there was nothing to do. Luckily, Emily is a travel blogger and shared these tips on what things there is to do in Narita if you get stuck at the airport – or just want to explore somewhere other than Tokyo. Thanks Emily!
A Day In Narita
The Narita Airport is the main entrance (and exit) for international visitors to Tokyo. So, many a traveller finds themselves there on a layover, with but a few hours to spare. While some are tempted to rush into the Japanese capital for just a glimpse of the insanely crowded metro or a quick foray into urban cuisine, it’s not really worth it unless you have at least eight hours on your hands. But that certainly doesn’t mean you should squander all your time at the airport. There’s many an adventure to be had in Narita itself. Read on to find out exactly where to go.
Experience classical Japanese architecture
If you’re the type who hates missing an opportunity to squeeze an extra museum or temple into your day, here’s how to prevent disappointment in Narita. The Naritasan Shinsh?-ji Temple should be your first stop. Leave Narita Station via the Omote-sand?. Those who can’t find it can ask the Tourist Information Desk at the airport for help. After walking through a ridiculously long (one kilometre, in fact) shopping mall, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with the temple. Built in 800 AD, it’s a striking contrast to the buzzing eateries and shiny gift stores just passed. Take your time enjoying fine examples of Japanese classical architecture – elegant pagodas and spacious rooms.
After that, head to the Boso No Mura, located at 1028, Ryukakiji Sakae-machi Inbagun Chiba – about 15 minutes’ drive or bus ride from Narita Station or 20 minutes from the airport. Open between 9am and 4:30pm, it’s a fascinating museum renowned for its lively and interesting displays of traditional Japanese culture. Walk through a convincing reproduction of an ancient street. Wander around a samurai residence. You might even be lucky enough to find yourself in the midst of a festival, depending on which date you’re passing through.
Be part of a Japanese tea ceremony
Every day at 10:30am, travellers are invited to take part in a Japanese tea ceremony, hosted at the Narita Tourist Pavilion. You’ll be escorted to the second floor of the building, where you’ll be served tea and sweets while sitting on a lush red carpet, with Koto music providing the soundtrack. While you’re at the Pavilion, take a wander around to get a taste of its dynamic, multimedia approach to the city’s history. You’ll find yourself travelling backwards in time as you’re immersed in the Edo Period, surrounded by shrines and temples.
Stay in a gorgeous hotel
Even if you’re only in the city for one night, it’s worth visiting the Radisson Hotel Narita. You’ll find it just 25 minutes from the airport, pretty close to the centre of the action. As a resort-style hotel, it offers all the comforts necessary to a restful night’s sleep. There are pools both indoors and outdoors, saunas, a state-of-the-art fitness club and opportunities for some outstanding fine dining.
Get close to nature
For a tranquil layover experience (or an effective preparation before heading into chaotic Tokyo), definitely visit the Botanical Garden, officially known as the Chiba Prefectural Flower and Tree Centre. There’s no better way to break up a long haul flight than getting amongst some greenery. Spread over 5.7 hectares, the centre is home to 55,000 flowers and plants, representing 430 species. You can visit an area devoted to wild grasses, a specially designed greenhouse and a beautifully landscaped stone garden. You’ll know you’ve reached the heart of the gardens when you stumble across a majestic, pyramid-shaped flowerbed. Entry is free and the gardens are open between 9am and 4:30pm every day, except Mondays.