Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wearing Kimonos in Narita, Japan

My oldest daughter flew home from Tokyo a day before my youngest daughter and I. We grabbed a shuttle from Shinagawa to Narita to accompany her to the airport - and since we were flying out the next day - we headed to the Holiday Inn Narita airport. Looking into things to do in the area, I came upon Rainbow Narita Tours run by Mr. Katsumi. A fantastic option for people who have long layovers at Narita airport, these tours take people around  Narita (a highly underrated area of Japan in my opinion.) So let me take you along on one of my favorite days I spent in Japan.






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















22 comments:

  1. Fascinating day. I always thought of Narita as the city where the airport is located. The tour sounds wonderful and I will definitely remember it should I travel to Japan.

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    1. It's a good one! Thanks for visiting, Rhonda!

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  2. I love the colorful architecture & patterns! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Japan is so beautiful...Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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  3. A Rainbow Narita tour sounds like fun, but I'd love to be able to visit the area for more than just a few hours. It seems there is a lot to see and do there. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. It was a fun tour - and if you were to stay longer, it's only an hour ride into Tokyo. Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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  4. What a wonderful day you had! We've flown in and out of Narita so many times, but never spent any time in the area. That will have to change the next time we fly there! Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Jim! And hope you get to explore the area next time you're there.

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  5. Sounds like a really fun experience and great that you could fit it in before your flight. I love the look of the Open Air Museum too, I'd find it fascinating. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. The Open Air Museum was so interesting - the whole tour was so different than anything I'm used to here in the US - kimonos, a fire ceremony, fertility shrine - you name it, it was different. Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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  6. What? No photos of the phallic symbols? In any case, it sounds fascinating, and I love the idea of visiting an open-air museum with few tourists. I will try to fit this in next time I'm in Japan, for sure!

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    1. Ha Ha my brother-in-law complained about the lack of a photo also. I'll try to include it in next weeks post. Thanks for visiting, Rachel!

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  7. Awesome! We are going to Japan in January and we can't wait - although we have about 4 days in Tokyo and one of those days we hope to go to Nagano - and there is a place where you can hire kimono and have a photo shoot there so I really hope to do that! Sounds like there's plenty to do around the area so that's good to know!

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    1. Have fun - I loved Tokyo and our kimono photo shoot! Japan is an incredible country. Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. I'd love to do this too. The kimono dressing part was an unexpected bonus. I love the randomness of taking a fill in tour and having one of the best days of your trip.

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    1. I love the randomness also - such unexpected best days, huh? Thanks for dropping by, Jan!

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  9. I had no idea there were opportunities to explore Narita. It is the first time I read in detail about the city. Good to know it is famous because of its eel cuisine. My husband would love to know that. #TPThursday

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    1. We didn't have time to try the eel but I'm not sure I would have. I have a preconceived notion that it would be chewy and tough. But then again, maybe I would've tried it just to try it! Who knows? Thanks for visiting, Ruth!

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  10. What an incredible (and unexpected) opportunity to wear such beautiful kimonos! I also loved the carved and painted wood of the buildings.

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    1. The kimonos - and the ladies who dressed us - were incredible. Such a fun experience that I didn't ever expect to have. And isn't that carved wood amazing? I couldn't stop taking photos of it! Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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  11. Lovely! I used to travel to/from Narita many times, but I never spent time to visit all around. I love Chiba Prefecture a lot, for more than one year it was my favorite one day trip destination from Tokyo. I think more people should discover Chiba!

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    1. You have alot more experience visiting Japan than I, but I agree - such a neat little area! Thanks for visiting The Unpaved Road!

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