We’re long overdue for a travel post, so I’m switching things up and sharing my domestic adventures on the Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program. Little Kaiju and I had an amazing time exploring in and around Narita City. Here’s 15 awesome things to do on the Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program.
If you’re living in Japan or have ever made a visit, you might already be familiar with Narita Airport– after all, nearly half of all international flights to Japan land at Narita International Airport, or Narita for short.
READ: Tokyo Narita International Airport (GaijinPot Travel)
Operating out of Terminals 1 and 2 of Tokyo Narita International Airport is the Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program, tours led by English-speaking volunteer guides knowledgeable in the sights and delights of the Narita area.
Participation in all tours is free of charge, though you will have to pay for your own expenses such as transportation and entrance fees. Volunteer Guided Tours start between 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m and finish by 2pm (most tours take between 3 and 4 hours). For Self-Guided Tours, visit the Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program between from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
See and Do:
1. Kimono Wearing at Kimono Studio Hanabi
Kimono Studio Hanabi offers several rental plans and photoshoots to suit your budget. There are so many kimono and accessories to choose from, you won’t know where to start!
2. Fly an Airplane Around Tokyo Bay
Yes, you read that right, and no, I’m not crazy! Inside the Museum of Aeronautical Science, Japan’s first museum of its kind, you can learn about aircraft, the history of aviation, and try your hand at flying thanks to the DC-8 Simulator. (There’s three flight courses: Shizuoka, Fukushima, and Tokyo Bay.)
Check out the rest of the museum, which, if you look closely from the outside, resembles an air traffic command tower!
The 5th floor observation room overlooks a runway of Narita Airport while the 3rd floor observation deck is the perfect vantage point for planespotting.
Balloon, the restaurant on the 4th floor, offers airline inspired lunch, too!
NOTE: The museum is undergoing renovations until August and some exhibits are currently closed.
3. Make a Wish at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
Naritasan Shinshojii Temple awaits you at the end of Naritasan Omotesando. An impressive complex boasting more than 1,000 years of history (and what seems like 1,000 steps!), Kanto residents flock to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple year round for blessings, amulets, and fortune telling.
4. Find Inner Peace in the Teachings of Buddha
Inside the Great Pagoda of Peace at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, try your hand at Shakyo (写経), the tradition of copying Buddhist sutras by hand.
Regardless of your level of Japanese, anyone can participate in shakyo, as the purpose lies in not perfection, but rather calming your heart and mind through focus and concentration.
5. Study Japanese Writing at Naritasan Museum of Calligraphy
Within the grounds of Naritasan Park is the Naritasan Museum of Calligraphy. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about the history and the transformation of the Japanese writing systems.
6. Relax in Naritasan Park
Observe the beauty of Japan’s nature and the changes in the season at this expansive park.
7. Stroll Naritasan Omotesando
Feel history come to life as you make your way up the winding 800m promenade connecting Narita Station to Narita Shinshoji Temple .
You’ll find everything from shops selling sake, Japan’s national liqueur made from rice, to handmade jelly-like soaps, kimonos, souvenirs, and more!
Fun fact: “Omotesando” refers to the main procession leading up to a shrine or temple, which is why you’ll see “omotesando” signs all across Japan! (In case you’re wondering, Tokyo’s swanky Omotesando area is actually is the procession route to Meiji Shrine! #themoreyouknow)
8. Plane Spotting at Airplane Hill
For even more impressive views of airplanes, nothing is perhaps more satisfying then a visit to Hikouki no Oka (ひこうきの丘 | Airplane Hill).
Located a mere 580 meters from the edge of Narita Airport Runway A, this is a spot with panoramic views that is frequented by families, couples, airplane enthusiasts and photographers keen to hone their skills.
9. Eat Traditional Japanese Sweets for Dessert at Miyoshiya
Hidden in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it alleyway off Naritasan Omotesando is a space that is unmistakably Japanese.
You’ll feel as if you’ve been whisked away to a magical garden as you approach Miyoshiya, a cafe selling wagashi (和菓子), traditional Japanese sweets.
10. Breakfast at Serena
The breakfast buffet at Serena, inside Hotel Nikko Narita is not to be missed! Sample Western breakfast staples such as pancakes, cereal, bread and pastries as well as a Japanese breakfast of fresh white rice, miso soup, grilled fish, and dried seaweed.
The “vitamin bar” is a unique compliment to the variety served at the buffet
11. Obanyaki at Kintoki no Amataro
Kintoki no Amataro specializes in obanyaki (大判焼き) thick and round waffle-like treats filled with adzuki (red bean paste) and served straight off the grill. Also known as imagawayaki (今川焼き).
Try the white bean paste ones but remember to let them cool down a bit before you take a bite!
12. Vegetarian Lunch at Fuwari Shibayama
Choose from a variety of dishes at Fuwari Shibayama. Many are made with lots of locally grown produce.
All seats inside this cozy restaurant offer prime views of the airplanes landing at Narita Airport.
Next to the restaurant is a grocer selling fresh agricultural products and gourmet ingredients from across Japan.
Head outside to the grassy knoll of Fuwari Shibayama for jaw-dropping views of airplanes. It’s almost as if you could touch them if you stretched out your hand!
13. Unagi at Surugaya
Feast on the centuries-old remedy of curing fatigue – grilled eel (鰻 or うなぎ | unagi).
Freshly caught eel is skewered, grilled, and coated in aromatic kabayaki sauce before serving atop fresh rice in a laquered service dish.
Surugaya is a top-rated restaurant on Tripadvisor, and waiting times vary, but you’ll be rewarded with one of Japan’s most luxurious dishes!
TIP: The restaurant looks cramped when you enter, but the tatami rooms with low tables and zabuton cushions on the second floor are spacious enough to accommodate small groups and families, so stick around for a table on the second floor.
14. Japanese Soul Food at Sawaraya
Sawaraya is an izakaya (居酒屋), a Japanese-style pub specializing in hearty food that’s best when shared.
In addition to sushi and yakitori (焼鳥 | skewered and grilled chicken), the extensive picture menu also features dishes like agedashi dofu and agedashi nasu, typical of what you’d find served in a Japanese home.
TIP: Small groups and families can dine upstairs in a private tatami room for an intimate experience.
15. Rest at Hotel Nikko Narita
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The hotel offers complimentary shuttle bus service to and from Narita Airport, making your departure while in transit a breeze!
The multilingual staff will shower you with true omotenashi — Japanese hospitality.
My daughter fell ill and literally vomited all over the floor and bed. But, we got a room change with little difficulty. Afterwards, when I had to rush her to the emergency room at Narita Red Cross Hospital, the concierge quickly arranged for a taxi and another staff member provided towels and plastic bags for the ride.
What do you think about all the things to see, do, and eat in and around Narita? If you need more Japanspiration beyond these 15 awesome things to do on the Narita Transit & Stay Program, check out the program’s official website.
Wishing you happy and safe travels!
15 Awesome Things To Do On The Narita Airport Transit & Stay Program