If you are traveling to the far Southeast Asia chances are you will have a airplane transfer at Narita International Airport (NRT). Narita is a charming small town in Japan located about an hour train ride outside of Tokyo. If you have time (8+ hour layover)for a cultural experience; I would recommend taking a day to visit the town, and the historic Buddhist temple complex in Narita City.
If your travel journey includes spending time in Tokyo, a comfortable way of travel between Narita Airport and Tokyo Station is the JR Narita Express train. The one way train ride takes about an one hour. You can also take the train from the Narita airport to within walking distance of Naritasan Temple; use JR Narita or Keisei Narita Stations.
It is easy to locate the temple. Just follow the signs along the Omotesando street all the way to the temple, it is about a 15-20 walk thru town. The walk is a fun cultural experience within itself.
Naritasan’s Omotesando is a quaint street lined by stores with local goods, foods, fabrics, kimonos, tourist keepsakes, that are cool to buy. Their are sushi and Japanese traditional food restaurants, including the eel restaurants. Narita is known for its freshwater eel. The experience of seeing a live eel being pulled out of a bucket of water wiggling. It is then placed on the table and held by a nail. The chef expertly kills, and slices the eel before our eyes. It is something I will never forget. Kanto’s chefs traditionally cut along the back, and demonstrate their skills for onlookers. Typically the Unagi is grilled and served over rice.
Narita is a historic Japanese Buddhist cultural gem that is home too Naritasan Temple. Naritasan was built in the year 940A.D.; the temple is built around its main sacred object of worship, a statue of the Buddhist Fudo Myoo deity. Kobo Daishi is one of the most important figures in Japan’s religious history, is said to have carved the Buddhist statue. This was a popular place for travelers and worshippers seeking blessings during 1603-1867. It is still a major Japanese temple that attracts millions of visitors per year.
Entering the space of the temple there is a noticeable change of energy and sound to the area. There are a few merchant stands that lead to one of the entrances; the sounds in the area are minimal. The air is clean, with subtle smells of water and lush earthy greenery.
The temple is still active with practicing Buddhist, tourist are welcomed to respectfully explore. Pictures are not allowed in the temples and during worship ceremonies. The sight of Buddhist monks in traditional orange colored robes in an opulent golden room is an absolutely amazing sight to witness. Feeling the vibrations of the ceremony is extraordinary. I do not practice the religion of Buddhism; I however appreciate and respect the spiritual connection. This was my first life introduction to the power of vibration and healing energy of sounds. Once the ceremony was over the experience shifted of the power of silence and the healing of meditation.
While walking around the complex its hard not to notice the silence of the space. There are thousands of tourist that visit this temple daily. With so many people present it would seem this space would be noisy. Instead its perfectly noiseless, with the exception of a few birds chirping. I thought maybe the quietness was a fluke, however I have travelled to this location a few additional times and each experience is similar. The grounds are vast and in some places the silence is deafening. Walking the temple grounds is where I learned how not to be afraid of being alone with my thoughts, and mindful meditate.
The temple grounds are a perfect place to roam physically, spiritually, and mentally. The location offers a stillness that is nourishing to mindful thinking. The art, kanji characters, and statutes are beautifully crafted and have stood the test of time. It’s easy to get lost in gazing at the beauty of these historic works and structures.
If you are into learning more about Japanese culture, visiting Narita Japan should be on your list of places to explore. Narita offers a nice rural balance to the city hustle and big lights of Tokyo. If you are on a nomadic spiritual journey, this is a healing space and blessing to explore.
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