2 Bus Tours from Narita Airport | japan-guide.com

If you are visiting Japan, or even just have a layover here it’s not unlikely that you’ll end up spending a few hours or more at Narita Airport Although it is true that Narita is quite far from downtown Tokyo this doesn’t mean your time here needs to be spent waiting around the terminals In fact, there are several worthwhile attractions within half an hour of Narita. And not only this but there are even tours to these locations which depart right from the airport. The two types of tours are: The Narita Airport Transit and Stay Program tours which come with a free personal guide, are pay as you go, use public transportation, go to only one location, take about 3 hours to complete, and include a meal only if you decide to buy one. And the Narita Select Bus Tours. These come with a group guide, cost a flat fee of 3500 yen, and (as the name implies) you travel everywhere in a private tour bus. Each of these tours goes to three different locations, take around 6 hours, and include lunch. And of course, both type of tours bring you back to the airport at the end. We already made an entire video about the pay-as-you go Transit and Stay tours, so in this video we’re going to cover the bus tours. So follow along as we go on 2 Bus Tours from Narita Airport. There are two different themed tours to choose from, but both courses have the exact same boarding points. These are at either Terminal 1 or Terminal 2 of the airport or at the bus stop outside JR Narita Station. Here, here, and here. Tickets for these tours are available at the JR EAST travel service centers in the basements of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 as well at any of the other locations in this list. OR you can also pay directly in the bus after boarding. Back to the the course options. There are two options to choose between:The Sawara Course which is more Japanese history themed, and the Shibayama Course which is more about Japanese culture. Let’s go through what each entails: Tour 1: The Sawara course The first stop of the tour is Boso no Mura, a large outdoor museum built to look like town from the feudal era. Here, visitors can see first-hand what life in the surrounding area was like in centuries past. Before entering, tour participants also have the option to rent a traditional overcoat (called a “happi”) for an additional fee. Boso no Mura has several distinctive areas to explore: There is the main street with numerous shops, buildings, and eateries. A samurai residence and the tea house next door. And the farm complex which has several buildings to walk through, and even grows real crops. Also, although it costs extra, depending on your interest and time available you may want to experience traditional tea ceremony which is conducted in the tea house. After Boso no Mura, the bus goes to the Hakko no Sato Kozaki Michi no Eki to make your own instant miso packets, have lunch, and shop. Miso soup is a common element in many traditional Japanese meals and at this roadside station an instructor will walk you through making your own balls of miso complete with custom toppings. Once back home, just add hot water, stir, and enjoy a nice cup of miso soup. After the lesson, it’s time for lunch (which is included in the cost of the tour), and there will also be time to explore the rest of the roadside station where several shops sell local specialty items and produce. Interestingly this particular michi no eki has a shop specializing in fermented goods from miso to soy sauce to sake. The last stop of the tour is the quaint town of Sawara which is famous nationwide for its biannual festival called the Sawara Matsuri where giant, ornately crafted, floats are pushed through the streets. To start off in Sawara, the tour head to the Dashi Kaikan, a museum dedicated to the festival which features examples of real floats, a theater where a multi-lingual video about Sawara is shown, and informational displays. After the museum you’ll take a pleasant stroll along the Ono River which runs through the historic and picturesque center of town. Here there are many well preserved dating as far back as the feudal period, which is why Sawara also has been given the nicknamed “Little Edo” because exploring the many traditional looking shops residencies, and warehouses feels a bit like going back in time. After finishing in Sawara, the tour ends back where it started, either at Narita Airport or JR Narita Station. Tour 2: The Shibayama Course Just like Tour 1, Tour 2 starts off at Boso no mura, the large replica town we talked about earlier. Since we already covered this location, we’ll skip ahead to the second stop, the roadside station known as Tako Aji-sai-kan Michi no Eki. The town of Tako, where this facility is located, is known for producing large quantities of high quality rice. And so, on this tour, you get to try your hand at making traditional Japanese rice balls (called “onigiri”) using locally harvested Tako rice. An instructor will guide you step by step to properly form the rice and wrap it with seaweed to create several onigiri that you can enjoy immediately afterward during lunch (which is also included in the cost of the tour). Other things to do at this michi no eki are; explore the shops selling locality specialties, take a nice stroll on the nearby river which is lined with seasonally blooming hydrangea bushes and cherry trees, And if there’s time briefly explore the beautiful rice fields next to the river. The last stop of the tour is at Shibayama Nio-son Temple which was established in the late 8th century during the Heian Period. The tour guide will lead you through the historic temple grounds while explaining its various points of interest. Some of the highlights are: The main gate which houses statues of two Nio Guardian Kings, The main hall, and its attached museum which houses many haniwa clay figures from the 5th to 7th centuries. Ringing the bell behind the main hall, and for those joining the tour on weekends there is also the opportunity to experience a Goma fire ritual, in which a monk ceremonially burns wooden sticks that have participants’ desires written on them and asks for the deities’ blessing. After departing Shibayama Nioson Temple, the tour concludes by dropping you off where you started and that’s what each tour is about. If you have six hours or more to spare at night to airport these bus tours might be a good way to spend the time. 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