I’m finally starting to get over my jetlag and wanted to share our experience with the Narita Transit Program. On our way home we had a 8 hour layover at Narita in Tokyo and us being us, there was no way we were spending it in the airport. I started to do some research on quick things to do with a short amount of time and discovered we probably didn’t have enough time to make it to Tokyo centre. I stumbled accross a program sponsored by the government designed specifically for tourists with long layovers. Score!
The program is FREE and is run entirely by volunteers. All you have to do is either reserve through their website or show up at the desk prior to 10am and pay for your transit and any misc items you may buy. I didn’t know how busy the program would be so I reserved ahead of time (the night before) to guarantee our spots. They have many different options based on your interests and time alotted.
We chose to do the Narita temple tour. A 3 hour tour of Narita City complete with temples, a japanese garden, and many different shops and restaurants along the way.
Upon arriving at Narita, we quickly made it through customs and headed to transit desk. Everyone in the program wears bright pink vests, they’re hard to miss. We were greeted warmly (seriously they were SO excited we were there) and met our 2 tour guides. Yes, we were in a private tour group with 2 personal guides for free! We headed to the train and out to explore Narita. Our guides were in their 70’s and 80’s and we struggled to keep up with them, they sure were quick!
The ride took about 10 minutes. We hopped off the train and followed our guides into the city. We walked along the main road amongst the cute little shops and dipped in to a grocery store for some tea. We walked along the streets and saw all of the restaurants preparing their eel for the day. Narita is famous for their eel and the shops take pride in showing how fresh the food is. The eel is still live when they slice them up for cooking. We headed in to the temple and took part in all of the traditional japanese customs including sipping from the well to cleanse our mouths and bellys before entry. Our guide was full of knowledge about the temples and took us through the grounds explaining the importance of each building and monument. We walked along the japanese garden and amongst the early blossoming cherry trees along the koi pond, stunning scenery. The garden was huge and there were so many things to see. After walking we got a bit hungry and decided it was time to head toward the train station. We stopped in a shop for their famous eel and sushi, delicious! We stopped in a few more shops and bought some more local delicacys before arriving at the train. The train station bakery was actually my favorite stop! From churros to hotdogs everything was delicious.
When we got back to the airport we thanked our guides, said our goodbyes and headed for our gate. We had a bit of trouble getting back through security, some of the delta agents insisted we needed to stand in quite possibly the longest line ever to show them our baggage ticket for some unexplained reason. They insisted our baggage wouldn’t get to our destination if we didn’t, which made no sense since our bags had been checked through from Bali. We finally found someone who confirmed that line was nonsense and we could go straight to security, saved us at least an hour wait!
I can’t recommend the Narita transit program enough. Its an excellent way to explore a bit of Japan without risk of getting lost and missing your connecting flight. Info below, check it out!