I visited Japan last winter, in 2019, when everything seemed to be normal around the globe regarding the pandemic. Weather at this time of the year in Narita is too cold to be enjoyable for travelers used with warm weather places. I could say it was cold in December, but for what I experienced during those 2 days of my stay it was perfect. Also, the average high during this season is between 14°C and 9°C.
Waking up early in the morning it’s always a good idea if you are planning to have a walk on the streets in Narita. It was my second time in this magnificent place and because I remembered the itinerary from the last time, I already had the plan for the day and I didn’t need the map anymore.
I strongly recommend you to go for a walk to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, which is located in central Narita, Chiba. This is a highly popular Buddhist temple complex in Narita City and is not far from Narita International Airport if you choose accommodation near the airport. It’s also an idea for the tourists who have a few hours to spend around the airport and want to catch a glimpse of historic Japan.
I had the chance to share this trip experience with one of my Romanian friends, Alexandra. On the first day of our stay, we shared our passion for the traditional Japanese garment, kimono, which is associated with a number of little mysteries. And because we knew that the Japanese women wear kimono only in the most important points in their lives, with the wedding being the last, we wanted to experience this special tradition asap. The first time kimonos are worn in Japan is at ages three and seven during the month of November, a time when girls visit shrines with their families to give thanks for being alive and in good health. Also, the idea of walking around the temple with this kimono is more interesting, so we decided to rent them.
Walking and admiring the locals on the streets and the way they prepare the food in the street, we came across a kimono place by chance, on the main street of Omotesando. Entering inside of a small building, with narrow stairs, we met a very nice lady who was working on one of her creations. Without any hesitation, she smiled and asked us what costumes we want to try first. We changed ideas, tried several types of kimono, and managed to accessorize them with her help. The dressing process is not an easy one, first of all, because there must be someone to help you put on all the clothes to reach that stunning result.
After walking around the temple and after we captured the beautiful landscapes, we came back to the kimono rental place where the Japanese lady took our Instagram ID’s, and then we left this creative place full of tradition.
I think for a first or second visit to Japan it is great just to have a walk on the streets. The way down to Naritasan is full of typical restaurants and a few tourist shops where you can buy quality Japanese items as souvenirs. There is also a mix of very old beautiful buildings and some new ones, ideal for taking photos and feel the local atmosphere.
In the evening, we went out as a group and wandered the streets and ended up in the same Omotesando street. Our first stop was a recommended place famous for Ramen and vegetarian friendly called ‘Ramen Bayashi’. We barely fitted inside, the local was small and full of people but perfect for a simple dinner. The menus were full of amazing dishes, famous ones are Sushi and sashimi ( is basically raw fish or seafood served with wasabi (a spicy Japanese condiment) and soy sauce, Tempura is a Japanese fried dish made mostly from seafood and vegetables, Kare-Raisu (Curry Rice), Miso Soup, Okonomiyaki. I found Okonomiyaki very interesting from the preparation point of view. It is similar to a pancake with the way it is pressed on a griddle but the ingredients are much more diverse and are usually considered a savory dish. It depends on the restaurant, but the experience it’s almost always interactive because the chef goes to the table and prepares it on a griddle while the customers are helping by adding other ingredients. It is typically made with flour, yam, and egg.
In the end, I chose the famous Ramen, a delicious vegetarian Ramen. Another thing, if you want to experience the best local Ramen while in Japan, I recommend doing a Ramen Tour with a local guide.
Along the 800 meters of Narita Omotesando main street, you can find restaurants and souvenir shops that are more than 150 in a row! The entrance of Omotesando street is exactly in front of Narita Station if you are traveling by bus. There are also lots of restaurants and popular bars among airline crew which I must confess that I was curious about. So, with this occasion, I found on Kamicho street, in Chiba, the JetLagClub. This is a good place to go out after dark and thanks to the creative side, and all the decorations on the walls, with dozens of airline badges from all over the world, I enjoyed it to the fullest.
The local atmosphere makes you stay there and play dart, billiard, and many other games available to customers, especially because you can meet tourists and other airline crews. I enjoyed a Kirin black beer with my group of colleagues and we spend around 3 hours playing all those games. It was a great evening.
On our way back to the bus station the rain started, and that was really unexpected.