We scheduled the afternoon tour - from 1 to 5 pm - with our guide. He was born and raised in Japan but went to school at UCLA and lived in Los Angeles before returning home. He picked us up at our hotel in his minivan and we were off. Oh, and by the way, the minimum on each tour is two - and that day we had our own private tour.
Our first stop was at the Narita-san Temple, a Shingon Buddhist Temple. Our guide took us inside and told us the history of the temple - including showing us photos of a visit by the Dalai Lama. We walked around the grounds and saw the prayer cards, the fox statues that represent this particular temple and even saw some palm trees(which for some reason I found fascinating as I didn't see any other palms on our visit)
After that, Mr. Katsumi asked us if we would be willing to be dressed in kimonos at the visitor center for a photo opportunity. Would we be willing? My daughter answered that it would be a dream come true! We entered the visitor center and after a short wait, several women helped us pick out our kimonos and dressed us - including the shoes. Then we walked through the streets of Narita-town and took some photos. Our guide explained that the visitor center was trying to draw in more visitors to the Narita area and these women volunteered to help - and it was completely free of charge. So if you will be in Narita, check into this. It was an experience beyond compare!
We strolled down the Omotesando road, the shop lined streets of Narita -while our guide explained that Narita is known for it's eel cuisine and many people come here solely for that- on our way to another awesome experience - a fire ceremony at Shinshoji Temple. We watched the buddhist monks file in, removed our shoes and took a seat on the floor. This ceremony has been done in the same way for over 1000 years and it was an incredible thing to be able to see. (No photos allowed)
Have to try the eel next time - no time this time!
Carved and painted wood!
Not done yet, our next stop was Bosu No Mara (or Bosu Village Park). This park is an open air museum with typical buildings from the Edo period. We had the whole museum to ourselves - and only passed three people the entire time. There are examples of houses, stores and a samurai's house. Upon leaving we were able to drive by a public park with burial mounds from 300 to 530 AD.
Our guide explaining the flags
And last but not least, we stopped at a fertility shrine. After walking up many, many steps - there are two steep, narrow staircases to the top - we entered the shrine and viewed all the prayer cards for fertility. And then, not knowing what was coming next, we entered into a room with many phallic symbols. Lots and lots of them. And...with a twinkle in his eye, Katsumi told us, "the largest one in Japan. Go ahead and touch it " Obviously, this phallic symbol wasn't real - it was made of stone and was very large. Something I never thought I would say that I'd done was touch the largest phallic symbol in Japan!
So folks, if you have a long layover at Narita airport in Japan, consider taking a Rainbow Narita tour. Katsumi speaks excellent English, the ride is very comfortable and I learned so much. It was one of my favorite days in Japan - I truly enjoyed seeing this area of Japan which we would never have done on our own. And I'm gonna do another another one if I ever make it back!
This post is part of a link-up with: Weekend Travel Inspiration at Malaysian Meanders, Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond and The Weekend Wanderlust Travel Blog Party