I told you we were done with Tokyo and, yet, we’re not. After checking in at the airport, Tawn and I took the train back one stop to the town of Narita. Longer-term readers may recall that we did this during an 8-hour layover in Tokyo in March 2007. For those of you who haven’t been reading that long, here’s a brief account:
Narita is the town where Tokyo’s main international airport is located. It is an hour by train northeast of the city, has a very old and beautiful temple, and is known for its unagi – grilled eel.
Taking the local train from the airport back to Narita, I remembered to take a picture of the daily news headlines posted in the train car. You don’t need to be able to read Japanese to tell that sex sells!
Narita isn’t a very large town, maybe 100,000 people, and its agricultural roots are still visible, although much of the town now supports the nearby airport industries, including the many hotels where overseas aircrew spend their one- or two-night layovers.
The walk from either of the train stations to the temple is only about ten minutes, following a cute street lined with little shops selling all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs. Just in the last two years, we’ve noticed a lot of change on this street, though, with several older buildings and mom-and-pop shops demolished in favor of newer, more generic stores, restaurants and bars.
Right across from the tourist information office is a small grilled eel restaurant. The kitchen faces the street and you can look in and watch the chefs grill the skewers of fresh eel.
You order and pay at the front counter, receiving little paper tickets. Then take a seat at a table (or in the traditional seating area on tatami mats, at the back of the restaurant). A few minutes later, tender, sweet and crispy unagi comes your way!
I’ve said it before and will say it again: if you have about six hours between flights at Tokyo Narita Airport, it is worth your effort to go through immigration and take the train into Narita Town.
After our return to the airport, Tawn did a little browsing in the shops and I went up to the observation deck. Japanese airports still have observation decks that are open to the public, which I think is a great thing. (Being an aviation enthusiast and all…)
A Japan Airlines 747 touches down on the main runway, the same one that the FedEx MD-11 crashed on a few weeks ago. I wasn’t able to spot any signs of that accident. In the foreground is a Korean Airlines 777.
With Delta Airlines’ recent acquisition of Northwest Airlines, they have been quick to repaint the Northwest fleet, at least the planes flying internationally. Now you are able to see something that didn’t exist just a few months ago: a Delta 747 and A330.
Beautiful new area in Terminal 1. While Narita doesn’t have all the amenities of Singapore Changi Airport, it is a more beautiful airport.
Since we had cashed in a few remaining miles to fly business class, we stopped by the All Nippon Airways lounge. If you are flying Star Alliance through Tokyo, don’t bother with the United Airlines lounge – go straight to ANA’s as it is much nicer.
With shower facilities and a good selection of food and beverage – not to mention an excellent view of the airfield – the ANA lounge was a nice place to relax before boarding the flight home.
Our friend Masakazu, whom we had joined for shabu-shabu and sukiyaki a few nights earlier, had emailed several of his friends who were working the flight back to Bangkok. The upside of this was that we received very friendly and attentive service on the way back home, including a complimentary bottle of wine to slip into our bag just before arrival!
i sure miss traveling!
I really enjoyed your posts and appreciate you taking time out from your vacation to write. I don’t think I would take a laptop with me on my vacation. But never say never….
Japanese designs are so meticulous as you are describing that cake box! I do remember using that ANA Lounge at Narita, it’s really nice!
The packaging is just awesomeI might take the train into Narita if I had layover over there in the future
I was lost in the Tokyo train station, and almost missed the bullet train to Kyoto. I thought I was very good sense of direction until I hit the Tokyo spaghetti. hehe. The food package is extreme, and I hope the cake tasted great?
I was at the exact location where you take a picture of that funky light/sculpture – isn’t it amazing how quiet that airport is? Love that place…
@ElusiveWords – Thanks, Matt. Of course, we’ve been back for a week, so a lot of the posting has been after the fact.
@stevew918 – The cake was beautiful. Unfortunately, it shared the condition that afflicts many Japanese baked goods: blandness.
@generasianx – Yeah, it is quite fun.
@Wangium – I’d encourage you to do so. Can provide more details if you want them, when the time comes.
@YNOTswim – Yeah, it is a really tranquil airport, for how busy it is.
🙂 Very nice trip!
I’m glad to hear you had connections to make your stay more comfortable. Still catching up on your Japan entries..
I’m glad you both had a good trip!
@minhaners – Sorry, there’s a lot of them, huh?
@TheCheshireGrins – @yang1815 – Thanks. I’d say it was one of the best trips we’ve taken.
That packaging is so impressive!
@christao408 – 🙂
tat packaging is so nice… though I like the idea ,wonder there will be lots of poeple against it with today’s enviromental friendly concept…..
and yes I did see the DL B744 at Manila airport too and it took me a couple of minutes to recall their lastest acquisition of NW
@ElusiveWords – maybe the little iPhone will do the job too?
Wow. That one shot totally makes the red carpet lounge kind of ‘blah’ in comparison. Thank you for the tip!
@kenpcho – Yeah, the RCC in Narita is nice enough but not when compared to ANA’s lounges. ANA actually has two lounges: the one pictured here is in Satellite 5 of Terminal 1. The other lounge is in Satellite 4. It is nice but doesn’t have windows for a good view. The drawback for Satellite 5 is that if you are flying UA or any of the other Star carriers, you have a bit of a hike to get to your gate. Allow 10 mins.
@agmhkg – The packaging does push the boundaries in terms of too much waste. To their credit, though, the Japanese have one of the highest recycling rates in the world.