What to do during a stopover in Narita


Narita is located in the Chiba prefecture. The city is mainly known because of its airport. In fact, it’s one of the two airports in Tokyo (the other is Haneda). Since 2010, a new runway and terminal have opened in Haneda. However, many airlines used to land in Narita Airport. As a result, there used to be a lot of foreign tourists, and aircrew on the streets of Narita!

The traditional atmosphere of Omotesando street

This pretty little retro street stretches for one kilometre between Narita train station and Narita san Shinsho-ji temple. It’s a very photogenic street, lined with traditional Japanese houses as well as many restaurants and shops. You will feel like you have traveled to ancient Japan! Notice how the cityscape changes as you move along Omotesando street. Modern buildings give way to traditional houses.

There is a selection of food, drinks and souvenirs, including typical dishes of the region, the unagi (freshwater eels). Among the restaurants is a little hidden gem: Miyoshiya

Miyoshiya: traditional tea house

After, or before visiting the temple, I recommend going to my favourite place to relax and have a cup of tea. Miyoshiya is a traditional tea house nestled in a small lane that overlooks a Japanese garden.

Miyoshiya, 三芳家 386-2 Nakamachi, Narita 286-0027. The tea house is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm every day except Wednesdays.

Narita san Shinsho-ji (成田山新勝寺)

Naritasan Shinsho-ji is a large complex of Buddhist temples built in 940. The grounds are huge: 220,000㎡! It’s a great place to visit if you have a few hours to spend around the airport. The temple is one of the largest and most popular in eastern Japan. Its park is particularly beautiful in autumn. For more information, see the article dedicated to the temple of Narita Shinsho-ji

Boso no Mura (房総のむら)

Boso no Mura is only away 30 minutes from Narita. It is an open-air museum that reproduces a local village, typical of the Edo period (1603-1867). Read the full article

Sawara (佐原市): a historic district of Edo era

Sawara. also known as ‘Little Edo’ is a town northeast of Narita. It is one of the best places to experience Japanese history and perfect for a day trip. For more information, see the article dedicated to Sawara.

Chiba-jo (Chiba castle)

Chiba-jo is a replica built in 1967 on the old site of Inohana castle. It has now become the Chiba Folk Museum which contains information and artefacts on local history. The museum has five floors and contains samurai armour, Katana, helmets, firearms etc… Only a few explanations are in English. I recommend visiting the castle if, like me, you love Japanese history.

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Without going into too much detail (and not losing you before the end of the article!), I’d like to introduce a little background around the castle’s history

The castle was built by Taira Tuneshige, a powerful samurai from the Taira clan. This is his statue you can see in front of the castle. Appointed administrator in the Chiba region, he changed his name to Chiba Tsuneshige and built a castle on Mount Inohana (hence the castle name).

During the Heian period (794 – 1185). 4 main clans fought tirelessly: the Minamoto clan, the Fujiwara clan, the Tachibana clan and the Taira clan. Have you (probably?) heard of the Genpei War? It was a civil war between the Minamoto and Taira clans. Doesn’t ring any bell? So maybe under you know then under their more famous names: Genji (Minamoto) and Heike (Taira). Do you remember, the last name of our samurai before he moved to Chiba? Taira Tuneshige. Although the Chiba clan was a branch of the Taira clan, it did not support the Taira clan during the Genpei War. He sided with the Minamoto clan instead! A 5-year war with the victory of the Minamoto clan over the Taira marks the end of the Heian era and the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333).

The castle was abandoned in 1455 and from the previous structure, the only remains is a ditch.

Transport: 7-minute walk from Chiba Monorail Kenchō-mae station or a 12-minute walk from JR Sotobo Line Hon-Chiba Station on foot
Ouverture: From 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (entry until 4:30 pm) closed on certain Mondays
Admission: free
Address: 1 Chome-6-1 Inohana, Chuo Ward, Chiba, 260-0856