I arrived safe and sound at Narita airport early yesterday morning, if a little sleep deprived. Japanese security and customs are the complete opposite of New Zealand – I practically strolled right through and didn’t even have to throw out any of the opened food I’d brought from home. After a bit of confusion, I found the train to Narita city. I then decided to rely on Google maps to get me from the JR train station to the Keisei train station. After walking back and forth and eventually doing a big loop of the area, I eventually found it…. right next door to the JR station. Don’t rely on Google maps guys!
There are very handy lockers at the Keisei train station which I used to store my backpack – 300 yen for the day. I then set off to find Naritasan temple. It was a very pleasant walk down the winding lane, past local restaurants and shops selling all sorts of bric-a-brac. There was some soft piano music playing all along the street and very few cars – more of a pedestrian area. The store and restaurant owners, waiting patiently outside their premises, greeted people as they walked past, but were never pushy trying to make a sale. It was rather peaceful really.
Naritasan temple is much larger than I had realised. While busy, it was relatively quiet and you could still find areas devoid of people if you walked away from the centre. In my jet-lagged state, I couldn’t bring myself to read up on the temple, so instead I just wandered around, taking in the views.
Behind the main temple complex is what appears to be a graveyard within a forested area (I could be wrong, but grave markers are what they appeared to be). Below that is a river with small waterfalls dotted about. Wandering through the trees was such a pleasant experience after a long flight.
If you’re arriving into Tokyo via Narita airport, I strongly suggest taking the time to visit Naritasan before heading into the city. It is such a relaxing way to begin your journey to Japan and it’s nice to break up the journey as it can take another 90 minutes to get to Tokyo from Narita, depending on which transport option you choose (I chose the cheaper, and therefore longer way).
Returning to the train station to collect my bag and take the train to Tokyo, I felt terribly exhausted. It was a struggle not to fall asleep from the swaying motion of the train. Two station changes later, I found the hotel, checked in and collapsed on the bed. Oh boy am I happy I decided to spring for a private room my first night! I got a decent night’s sleep and now I’m ready to start exploring Tokyo.