Summer Travels: Layover in Narita

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was lounging it up because I had a long layover coming back to the US after our amazing Bali adventures. That layover happened to be in Narita, Japan, the location of the major airport in Tokyo. Instead of venturing into Tokyo, KFo and I decided to head into Narita. K had been looking up different places to go, and a few travel blogs recommended not braving the Tokyo crowds, instead opting for a laid-back trip to this airport friendly city. Really, it was a no brainer because we were tired from our red-eye flight and overall just ready to take it easy. The train from Narita Airport to the city of Narita is only about 10 minutes. It drops you off in the center of town, so walking around and finding good food - which was really our mission - is pretty easy. It's quite beautiful and reminds me of a seaside-esque town. It was pretty quiet (although, we were there on a Tuesday morning), so you don't have to worry about the hustle and bustle of the big city, yet you still have the Japanese experience. I had never been to Japan, so just venturing outside the airport walls checked this off my bucket list. [Note to reader: Those heading into Tokyo should consult this guide, which gave us a lot of fun ideas on things to do.]

If you've read a few of my posts, it shouldn't be surprising to you that food is the center of our travels and generally the thing that I find the most exciting about a new country. Since it was the late morning, we stopped to get a coffee (get in me, coffee!) and some matcha cake. Almost like angel food cake, matcha cake is made using Japanese green tea. Matcha is quite good for you and it's having a bit of a "moment" in the US currently.  After devouring my coffee, we walked further down the street to a ramen restaurant that we had read about on TripAdvisor and a travel blog about layovers in Narita. Ramen Bayashi is famous among flight crews stopping for longer layovers in Tokyo's Narita airport. It's pretty obvious when you get there that the restaurant is supported by the airline industry because the restaurant has tons of stickers from all the airlines. The ramen they have is both traditional and unique - I ordered the spicy ramen and KFo ordered the cold lemon ramen, which was quite good and had a hint of lemon flavor. The cold was really refreshing given the humidity in Tokyo that day. We, of course, had to order goyza (dumplings), two Asahis and some sake.

 
Lemon Ramen - Yum!
 
 
Gimme some of that spicy ramen
 

Full and happy, we pretty much rolled out of there in a great mood off to find the Buddhist temple Naritasan Shinshoji. The temple is sprawling and you could really get lost in there. The nice thing is that there are a lot of things to see and do and they do a great job of incorporating different food stops within the park that houses the temple. In fact, the park (which encompasses the temple) also has three ponds you can visit and make wishes in. [Note to readers: Of course I HAD to make a wish…Hello! Wedding in a week and a half!]

 
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Naritasan Shinshoji
 
 
KFo playing around
 

Continuing our foodie journey, we visited Kawatoyo Honten, right by the temple. Kawatoyo specializes in eel dishes and the eel is made fresh almost right in front of your eyes. If you haven't tried eel before or you get a bit nauseated at the sight of blood, this probably wouldn't be your place, but the food was INCREDIBLE. The grilled eel melts in your mouth and the sauce is some of the best eel sauce I have tasted. Smoky and slightly sweet, it really hit the spot.

 
EEL
 

We headed back to the airport after our eel experience, full and ready for the long plane ride only to find out we got upgraded to business class by Singapore Airlines! How cool is that?! Nice way to cap off the trip! A few other fun and colorful images from our trip to Narita are below. Jet lag is kicking in, so I am going to head back to bed and hopefully kick this before the Tahoe Tough Mudder on Saturday. Night!

 
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Narita