Most people pass through the city of Narita changing planes or blast through on their way to Tokyo from the airport, but we decided to stay for a few nights to get our bearings before attempting the chaos of Tokyo and check out a few sights in Narita that are worth a visit and invite you to leisurely linger. This was our official day 1 of Japan.
We stayed at the APA Narita business hotel because of its location, close to the train stations, within walking distance of local sights and the hotel has a bath house too! Affordable, modern, but very, very small rooms. The hotel also has a free shuttle from the airport. Very convenient.
Naritasan temple and park
This buddhist temple is quite beautiful and larger than we thought it would be. There is the sprawling Narita park behind it with Koi fish filled ponds, bridges, monuments and gravesights. There is a calligraphy museum near the park that we did not get to, but wanted to. It is helpful to know the rituals of entering a temple before you go, or better yet you can just watch and shadow someone entering the temple like we did.
The street leading from the train station up to Naritasan temple is filled with cafes, bars, restaurants and tourist shops. Fun and lively during the day and also at night when locals get home from work. This town is known for its skewered eel.
Yamato No Yu onsen and spa
I was really looking forward to venturing to this onsen and I was not disappointed. The baths at Yamato No Yu are separated for men and women and switch sides each day. They are one of the few tattoo-friendly baths. It is also an onsen, which means that some of the baths use natural spring water. The natural spring bath water I was in looked like tea, and was very relaxing. Some of the baths are indoors and some are rotenburo (outdoor bath), which is my favorite kind. There are multiple baths of different temperatures and types, a sauna and a cold plunge. You can rent a private tub, which we did not do, but I think you get to enjoy more if you try the communal bathing experience the way the Japanese do. Beautiful design, modern and affordable for the baths and spa. Bring your own towel and toiletries, but they provide a locker, body wash and shampoo. This onsen is not in Narita proper, you need to take the JR train one stop to Shimousa Manzaki, but it is definitely worth the 5 min train ride, 15 min walk. A very relaxing and special place overlooking farm land.