We often take a red-eye from Saigon to Tokyo on our way back to Portland, Oregon. The layover at the Narita Aiport is about 8 hours long, so we hop a JR Line train for a 10-15 minute ride into the quaint town of Narita. Narita is the home of Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, a Buddhist temple complex with beautiful buildings and gardens.
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple was built in 940. It is home to the Shingon Buddhist Sect – a line of Esoteric Buddhism, which has an interesting fire ritual called Goma. The ritual is performed for the purpose of destroying negative energies, detrimental thoughts and desires, and for the making of secular requests and blessings. The ritual is performed daily in the morning or the afternoon (thank you Wikipedia). We happened to catch this ritual once, and it was quite beautiful.
The other highlight of visiting Naritasan Shinshoji Temple, is the walk to the temple down Omotesando – a street lined with food vendors, shops and restaurants. Several restaurants feature barbecued eel and you can watch as the eel is prepared and cooked. On winter days, vendors roast chestnuts and offer samples of warm saki. There are a lot of interesting shops and I’ve found some lovely vintage kimonos and linens. We always cap our visits with lunch at an amazing restaurant called Edokko Sushi. It’s some of the best sushi we’ve ever eaten.
How to get to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple:
Take a JR Narita or Keisei Narita train from the Narita Airport into the town of Narita. From either station, the temple is a 15-20 minute walk down Omotesando (you’ll see signs near McDonald’s).
If you want to check out Edokko Sushi, keep an eye out on the right side of Omotesando. It’s about 5 minutes from the train station and opens at 11:30 am. If you see some bleary eyed gaijin, it just might be me and my husband.