Home to the New Tokyo International Airport, Narita is the first entry point of most visitors to Japan. Too many foreigners skip it altogether, heading straight for Tokyo, 80 km (50 mi) to the west. It is a shame for the small town of Narita possesses one of Japan's greatest and most colourful temples, which makes a visit to Narita really worth your while.
Narita-san Shinshō-ji Temple 成田山新勝時
The Narita-san Shinshō-ji Temple attracts some 10 million (mostly Japanese) visitors annually. It is one of the main centre of the Buddhist Shingon sect in Japan and has several branches throughout Kanto.
The temple was founded in 940. The legend has it that a Goma rite dedicated to the image of Fudomyoo, which had originally been enshrined at Takaosan Jingoji Temple in Kyōto, help to miraculously suppress a revolt against Emperor Suzaku. An oracle proclaimed that the image, which had been transported from Kyōto to Narita, should stay where it was to relieve the locals from suffering. Emperor Suzaku then ordered the creation of the Narita-san temple to enshrine the Fudōmyō image.
The Great Main Hall is a reconstruction of 1968, but still conducts the daily Goma rite.
Other buildings of the Narita-san complex include :
- the 58m high Great Padgoda of Peace erected in prayer for world peace
- the Shōtokutaishi-dō (Prince Shōtoku) Hall, dedicated the the Prince Regent of the same name said to be the father of Japanese Buddhism
- a 25m tall Three-storied Pagoda built in 1712
- the Niō-mon Gate erected in 1830
- the Shaka-dō Hall built in 1858 and dedicated to Shakanyorai Buddha
- the Gaku-dō Hall built in 1861
- the Kōmyō-dō Hall, erected in 1701 and dedicated to Dainichinyorai Buddha
- the 16.5 hectares Narita-san Park, which opened in 1928
Narita Gion Matsuri
Out of the many events taking place at Shinshō-ji Temple, the Gion Festival is the most popular and the oldest (it has been going on for 300 years). Flamboyant floats, carts, and portable shrines parade in the streets for three days. The event takes place in the middle of July - usually around 8-9th to 10-11th July.
See photos of the Narita-san Gion Matsuri
How to get there
From the airport, the town of Narita is just one stop from Terminal 2 on the Keisei line.
From Tokyo, take either the JR Sōbu line bound to Narita from Tokyo Station, the Jōban/Narita or Keisei line from Ueno Station.
It is possible to change to the Keisei line in Funabashi, Tsudanuma and Tōyō Katsutadai using Tokyo Metro's Tozai line. You can also transfer from the Toei Asakusa to Keisei line in Oshiage.