Narita is home to Narita International Airport, the world's gateway to Japan. The small but bustling city of Narita offers a glimpse into Japan's Edo-period past. Narita is home to a variety of museums and activities for visitors of all ages.
Narita is in northeastern Chiba. It's the first stop after the airport on the local train line. Trains and buses also run from Tokyo. Note that taxi is not an affordable option from Tokyo.
Narita is accessible from Tokyo via the JR Line or Keisei Line. For JR Line, take the Sobu Express to Chiba. From there, change to the Narita Line and be careful not to pass Narita Station and stop at the airport terminal stops. Keisei Narita Station is nearby. You can reach it by taking the Keisei Main Line from Keisei Ueno Station.
Most people know Narita for the international airport, but they don't realize how much more there is to do in this quaint yet bustling little town. The town itself centers around the winding Narita Omotesando with its curio (souvenir) shops, eel vendors, and the massive Shinshoji Temple complex.
Nearby, discover the historic town of Sawara, the "outdoor museum" of Boso-no-Mura, and excellent shopping at Shisui Premium Outlets.
Narita International Airport is where most visitors get their first taste of Japan. The airport is modern, convenient, and well laid out with a good selection of souvenir shops and restaurants offering traditional Japanese cuisine. Both terminals have observation decks to watch the aerial action. There are shuttle buses to take visitors to the nearby town and to Shisui Premium Outlets.
Just in front of Narita Station is Narita Omotesando, a winding road that leads to Shinshoji Temple. Stroll along and discover small shops selling traditional snacks, artifacts, and crafts that make excellent souvenirs. Restaurants and street vendors offer fresh barbecued eel, one of Narita's specialties. Try local sweets like sakura mochi or cookies made with peanuts, another specialty of the area.
The main must-see attraction at Narita is Shinshoji Temple, a massive temple complex, and park that dates back to 940 AD. Its imposing structures and statues are steeped in history drawing worshippers and visitors year-round.
Shinshoji Temple attracts 13 million visitors per year. Ceremonies are held throughout the year, and the biggest is its New Year's celebration, which draws around three million people. New Year events include the Goma Fire Ritual, where wishes for the New Year are made over a roaring ceremonial fire.
Beyond the temple is Naritasan Park, a 165,000 square-meter park with two ponds surrounded by attractive trees and flowers. Kids will enjoy feeding the colorful carp in the ponds.
Sawara, a small town in the northeastern part of Narita, is called "Ko-Edo" (Little Edo). It preserves the townscape of Japan's Edo period when it prospered as a transport hub for rice shipments. Some businesses from that era still operate and thrive today.
In addition to the historic sights, Sawara also features the Suigo Sawara Aquatic Botanic Garden. As a part of the Suigo-Tsukuba Quasi-National Park, it has 1.5 million irises which bloom in early June, the largest collection of irises in Asia.
Another place rich with the atmosphere of old Japan is Chiba Prefectural Boso-no-Mura, an open-air museum that reproduces the world of the samurai, farmers, and merchants that thrived here as the Edo period transitioned to the Meiji period at the beginning of the 20th century.
Boso is an old name for Chiba. You can experience traditional crafts, major festivals in each season, and visit an archaeological site with artifacts from the Jomon period (13000-300 BC).
Sakura is another town near Narita that offers a glimpse into old Japan. It has a row of preserved samurai residences and the National Museum of Japanese History (Kokuritsu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan).
Sakura boasts one of Japan's major art museums, the Kawamura Memorial DIC Museum of Art. It has over 1,000 works of art by artists from Japan and all over the world.