After an… eventful (to say the least) excursion from the airport to the Shinsoji Temples, I was ready to start doing some ‘splorin!
Walking into the temple complex (which is MASSIVE), you’re immediate greeted first with rows of street vendors selling figures of a little blue creature called “Unari-kun”.
Gandering at the cutie, I first laid eyes on him in the airport, and to me, he looked like a bird so I figured the little bird was the airport’s mascot. Later, I found out that (1) he’s the city’s mascot, not the airport’s – the airport has Kutan (2) he’s NOT a bird, he’s an alien mix between an eel (because it’s the city’s specialty) and an airplane (because of the airport, so I guess I was KIND OF close with that one).
Somehow (with some sort of crazy self-control I didn’t even know I had), I was able to resist buying all of the Unari-kun souvenirs and made my way to the actual temples, which were exactly as I had pictured them, but even more awesome in person.
What really stole the show for me though, was Naritasan Park. I was walking along a narrow path, turned a corner and out of nowhere, a waterfall appeared. Now, I absolutely ADORE waterfalls (I’ve blog-squealed about them in Malaysia and Indonesia) and literally squealed with excitement and ran to dip my feet in the pond.
Following the water running out of the pond, I discovered it flowed into three large Koi ponds. Here, I took a moment to enjoy how gorgeous the ponds were and how much I WASN’T afraid of the Kois, like I would have been before I conquered my fear in Thailand.
All of that feeling awesome about myself was hard work apparently, so I was starting to get hungry. I decided to grab some Udon from a nearby restaurant and enjoyed dying and going to eel, octopus, tofu and egg heaven.
Fortunately, happy delicious food-deaths aren’t permanent, and I was soon continuing on my way south to Omote Sando Street. Filled with even more shops literally overflowing with Unari-kuns and other traditional souvenirs and random statues of zodiac animals, Omote Sando represents the main downtown Narita strip. As such, it has a great traditional, old school vibe to it with a feeling of organized chaos.
After some amicable browsing, it was on to a completely different shopping experience: AEON Mall – home to a MASSIVE arcade with about 50 claw games alone (and about 5,000,000 other contraptions I couldn’t even recognize), a ton of Japanese-brand stores and some same-same but different Canadian brands.
I’ve never been much of a mall rat and I’m constantly surprised at how similar malls everywhere from Canada to Singapore to Japan actually are (which is to say I spent significantly more time in the arcade than the actual mall), but even still, before I knew it, it was time to hop back in the super-tourist-y brightly coloured cable car of a bus and head back to the airport.
Even though I wasn’t even in Narita for a full day, I still felt like I had seen a good amount of the city. After raving about my trip, I friend of mine asked if I had a copy of my itinerary, as he was planning on doing the same thing during his upcoming layover in Japan. I ended up writing him out a full itinerary and eventually realized that I could probably find a place that would publish it for me and eventually, I came across Unanchored. Now, you can check out and buy the full itinerary here: http://www.unanchor.com/itinerary/view/338