Naritasan Park is a large garden with a gross area of 165,000 m2, located behind the main building of the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple. Especially noteworthy are the flowering trees and shrubs around Monju pond and Ryuju pond, displaying exquisite colors through all seasons.
Inside the park is also a calligraphy museum (fee charged), where many modern calligraphy masterworks are exhibited.
It is located directly at the entrance of the exhibition hall, viewers are greeted by an enormous charcoal rubbing 'Gentaku Kitaizanmei', which is 13.3 meters in height and is 5.3 meters wide. This rubbing portrays the first emperor of China and has come to be a symbol for the museum. The museum houses a large number of famous calligraphy masterpieces dating from the late Edo period.
Visiting to the Naritasan Calligraphy Museum is an eye-opening visit where you can experience beautiful writing art, strongly suggested ... :)
-Narita Airport is proclaimed “safe” by Delta Airlines after the radiation and earthquake crisis (just thought I would throw that in there for some of you doubtful travelers) :)
-Narita Town is a great attraction that is close to the Narita Airport. Its a few minutes away from the airport by train. Narita town has a famous temple, dozens of restaurants, and lots of shopping places.
-If we have a lot of time, we can take a train to Shinjuku, Ueno, or Akihabara (small wards in Tokyo.) The average time it takes to travel from Narita Airport to those places take around 1 hour & 45 minutes.
-Shinjuku doesn’t sound like that much of a great place. It consists mostly of high class restaurants, bars, and places where Korean & Japanese musicians and actors like to hang out. People say that the only good thing there is in Shinjuku is the skyscrapers. You can get a really good view of Tokyo when you climb them.
-Ueno is home to some of Tokyo’s finest cultural sites. There are many Buddhist temples that are located in this area. Ueno Park and Ueno Station are home to the largest homeless populations in Japan. It is not much of a “rich” area of Tokyo.
-Akihabara is a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, otaku goods, and new and used items. This is a high-tech, neon-lit neighborhood. The Sony Plaza is one of the most famous shopping destinations in the district. You can get good bargains in the small shops. People say it’s a good place for “Americans” to shop for cheap electronic goods. Overall, the ratings for this place have been in between because this city is mainly known for selling their electronics and cartoon (anime) merchandise.
-The food that Narita specializes in is unagi (eel). People say that the eel over there is so fresh, that they will grab the live eel, kill it, open it up, clean it, slice it for you, and put it over an open flame grill. The eel usually takes around 10 minutes to be fully prepared for you to eat. Its about 1000 yen for a skewer of eel. The Naritasan Shinsho Temple is a heavily visited tourist destination. Some people say that you should just take a straight walk down Narita Town. There are a few streets where it is very relaxing to walk down. On the way of your walk, you will see people’s houses, some shops, and numerous restaurants. They also have a lot of Fish Markets. There are also a lot of noodle shops that are there too.
Part of the fun of visiting Narita City is its store lined approach, the Omotesando. Stretching over the entire one kilometer distance from the railway stations to the temple, Naritasan's Omotesando is a lively street lined by numerous restaurants and stores, that have been selling traditional crafts, foods and souvenirs to pilgrims and tourists for centuries.
We ended up eating and buying some souvenirs here.
Naritasan (Naritasan Shinshoji Temple) is a large and highly popular Buddhist temple complex in Narita City, not far from Narita Airport. It is a great site to visit if you have three or more hours to spend around the airport and wish to catch a glimpse of historic Japan.
Naritasan was built in the year 940 around its main sacred object of worship, a statue of the Buddhist Fudo Myoo deity. Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon Sect and one of the most important figures in Japan's religious history, is said to have carved the statue.
I'm not sure if this is a UNESCO World Hertiage site, but if it's not it should be !!!!
One of the things I read about Narita City is that they specialize in Unagi ... eel ... I had never had it .... so we found a place along the main street on the way back from the temples that offered fresh Unagi. And when I mean fresh, I mean they grab it, open it up, clean it out, slice it for you and put it on an open flame grill. Within 10 minutes your eating it !!!! and then wow !!!! I had never had it but all I can say it's one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten anywhere !!!! It cost 1000 yens for a skewer. We had 3 skewers each and a glass of sake !!! and it was a lot better than eating at the airport. And again trying to show support to our Japanese friends by spending some money in town. Well worth it !!!!!
If you're in the Narita area and are looking for something to do, but don't want to spend too much money....Take a trip to Naritasan Park! Frankly the park is less crowded the the parks in Tokyo, but has just as much to see. The Naritasan Shinsho temple is not only beautiful, but also as large as the temple in Asakusa, but without the long travel time and the crowds. I found lots of good advice at www.geocities.com/rc_blom/Narita.html so if you are looking for some quick information about the area you should visit that sight. In anycase, if you only have a short time in Japan, such as a layover, skip Asakusa and visit Narita Park.
I highly recommend that you take a stroll around Narita town. It is a very quiet and pleasant little town, one that is easy to get around and it is practically impossible to get lost. There are only a few main streets, lined with people's houses, a few shops, numerous restaurants and a few inns/ryokans.
Right in the centre were a few streets (Nishisando, Omotesando and Shinsando Street) meet there was a statue of a lady with a plaque (possibly the Sekitei monument?), but since I can't read Japanese, I can't be sure who the lady is (see pics). There is the Narita Kankokan (Narita Tourist Pavillion) building with a small park across the road. It was in early spring so the the leaves were showing their crimson beauty (see pics).
I was unable to visit the tourist pavillion as it was already closed but I understand that on Thursdays from 10.30 am, they conduct tea ceremonies for visitors. On other days, you may visit to gather information about the region and particularly about the Gion Festival when there are large scale parades being held (VT member dennisKL has pictures on this festival)
At the Naritasan Temple entrance, there is a large red lantern hanging at the Niomon Gate, with an inscription in large Japanese characters in black ink. You are probably wondering what the inscription says. I fully expected it to be the name of the temple or one of the important temple deities.
Well, I found the answer after my trip, on an internet search. What do you know, it was totally unexpected, but the answer is - Fish Market- . Apparently, since the Edo period, it has been a tradition of the fish market to contribute the lantern to the Naritasan Temple. The current lantern was donated by the Fish Market in 1968.
Got time to kill and don't want to shop? The Museum of Aeronautical Sciences is about a 10 min ride from the airport...visit the museum website or go to the airport information desk for info on a shuttle so you can avoid the cab fare. Admission is 500 yen for adults and 300 for teenagers. I did not make it in here due to time constraints but flew over it on the way in. They have about 20 planes outside to look at and much more stuff inside including a restaurants and observation room to relax in and watch planes come and go. Like what you see here..you can also visit the museum shop in the cnetral wing of terminal 1 to bring a toy back for the kids.
One of the delightful things to do when visiting Naritasan is to stroll around the temple town. The main pathway (Omote-sando) runs through from JR Narita station to Naritasan. There are many shops along this path.
The main street runs from the station to the the entrance gate of Naritasan. There are quite a few old stores with more than 100 years of history, many Chinese medicine stores built of Dozo(warehouse) style, and large wooden Three-story hotels. There are unexpected surprises not only on the main street but also down the narrow side streets.
Another charm of temple town are the local products like Sweet jelly of azuki beans (yokan), Japanese pickles (tsukemono), fish boiled in soy sauce (tsukudani) or local rice-wine (sake) and strolling along the main street eating hand made rice crackers ( teyaki-senbei) or eating broiled eel in a restaurant.
Being an international city Narita, there are many visitors walking along the main street and also some restaurants and noodleshops are almost used exclusively by overseas visitors.
The history of Naritasan Shinshoji Temple starts with the image of Fudomyoo which has been enshrined in the Temple as a main deity and is said to have been carved and consecrated by Kobodaishi (Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhist sect, 774-835) at the request of Emperor Saga.
The image had originally been enshrined at Takaosan Jingoji Temple in Kyoto, capital of the day. When Tairanomasakado led a revolt against Emperor Suzaku in 939, Priest Kanjo received a secret order from Emperor Suzaku to suppress the revolt. He went to the district bearing the image of Fudomyoo and performed a three week Goma rite for peace.
Miraculously, on the final day of the Goma rite, on the 14th of February in 940, the revolt was suppressed completely. Priest Kanjo, thus fulfilling his duty, prepared to return with the image of Fudomyoo to Kyoto, but he found that it had mysteriously grown as heavy as a huge stone and could not be moved. Soon he heard the oracle of Fudomyoo saying, "My wish has not been fulfilled. I wish to stay here forever and relieve innumerable people from suffering."
Deeply impressed by the mercy of Fudomyoo, Emperor Suzaku ordered a temple be erected to enshrine the image on that spot. Then Naritasan Shinshoji Temple was established by Priest Kanjo.
As the name Naritasan (means Narita-mountain) implies Naritasan Shinshoji temple is located on the top of the hill. Luscious woodland grows behind the main hall (temple building), which symbolizes Naritasan. This area is Naritasan park (Naritasan koen / Admission free). It was opened in 1928 and covers an area of 165,000 sq. meters.
The inside of the park is designed to be in harmony with nature and visitors can stroll along the footpaths surrounded by natural habitat. The three ponds (Ichi-no-ike, Ni-no-ike, and San-no-ike) at the center of the park are particularly beautiful. Plum trees and cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, and the new green leaves in the early summer which turn red in the fall. From the end of February until the beginning of March, the famous Japanese plum (Ume) Festival is held. An open-air tea ceremony is also held where you can experience typical Japanese beauty to the full.
Inside the park, there is Naritasan calligraphy museum (Naritasan shodo bijutsukan). Next to the park, there is Naritasan Reiko-kan museum (Naritasan Reiko-kan) and Naritasan Library of Buddhism (Naritasan bukkyo toshokan).
Personally I enjoy arranging a longer layover than necessary in areas I haven't been before, so that I can venture outside the airport, and see a bit of the local culture. Japan was the first country I tried this in, and it was a wonderful time. Short, as my layover was only 8 hours, but wonderful.
Tokyo is great from what I hear, but for me, I enjoy smaller areas, with less people. I'm not much into crowds. I've yet to make the trip into Tokyo, but very much enjoyed Narita just outside of Toyko. I was nervous to start, but once there, even with an overcast and mist of rain, the small village/town was quaint, with thin streets, and very colorful displays on the outside of shops along the small streets. A walk down to the Temple of Narita was beautiful and mesmerizing. Just to stand back and watch the customs practiced by the locals at the temple was so interesting.
On my way back to the train station, there were many places with great deals on food & drink, but as I didn't have a lot of time, I just grabbed a quick burger from McDonald's on the corner, vowing to make more time on my next flight through, to ensure a proper meal. Unfortunately, I haven't had a subsequent flight through there as of yet, but it's definitely still on my list!
A castle town situated at the mouth of the Nishiki river. It's symbol the Kintai-kyo bridge was constructed by Kikkawa Hiroyoshi, Lord of Iwakuni in 1673 during the Edo period. It is a five arch bridge, and one of the three famous bridges of Japan. Cherry blossom in the spring and cormorant fishing in the summer only add to the attraction of this bridge. Other places to see include Iwakuni Castle, Kikko Park, and the white snake display.
A famous gorge designated as national special scenic beauty site. There are many fantastic sights that will take your breath away hidden deep in the primeval forest which stretches for a total of 16 km, beginning with the five famous grand sights of the jumping monkeys, Sandankyo gorge, Nidantaki Falls, Ryumon arch, and Mitsudaki Falls. It has been designated as a national special scenic beauty site because of its grand scale and the variety of its beauty. Numbered among the five famous gorges of Japan, nature's fabled panoramas unfold in succession along the length of this gorge.