One Day in Narita Town: Spending a Layover at Narita Airport
I don't think many people visit Narita Town. I mean, why would they? Narita is close enough to Tokyo that the airport is pretty much just known as "Tokyo Airport". Most travelers take the Narita Express train directly to downtown Tokyo or to the bullet train station for the exciting start of their Japan holidays.
Here's how to spend a comfortable (and budget) one-night layover in Narita Airport, Tokyo, assuming you arrive in the evening and depart sometime the next afternoon.
Save money and check into the clean and affordable Ninehours Narita capsule hotel.
Despite its name, you can check in and stay for a full night. When you check in, you will be supplied with a fluffy towel, pajamas, slippers, and a toothbrush. After a long intercontinental flight, nothing feels quite so good as a hot shower and a great sleep. The hotel is open for check-in 24-hours, so you can get a hot shower and a rest no matter what time you arrive in Tokyo.
The private capsules have wifi, electrical outlets, and a white noise machine. The hotel is always dark and quiet, and it's easy to fall asleep.
The next morning, feeling refreshed but with nearly a full day until your flight, why not take the JR train into Narita town? After breakfast at the airport cafe (included with your capsule booking), head to the JR station inside the airport, and board the JR for the 10-minute ride into the town. The ticket is only ¥250.
The major site in town is Narita-San (Narita Mountain), which is the site of Shinsho-ji, the New Victory Temple. It's just a short walk from the station, and clearly marked in both Japanese and English signage.
The temple is a brisk climb up a steep set of steps going up the small mountain. The forest temple is beautiful and serene. There is a small museum in the complex, and several different shrines to visit. If you've only got a few hours to spend in Japan, this is a great way to get out of the airport to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and experience a little bit of Japanese culture in a beautiful setting.
Not so many people visit Narita town, so it barely gets more than a footnote in most guidebooks, but it turns out that it's actually worth visiting, especially if you are short on time. There are a number of shrines and pagodas, and Narita-San complex itself dates back to the year 940!
Besides that you can enjoy walks along the beautiful trails up the mountain. Stretch your legs and get a little exercise between long, cramped flights.
Back at the airport, head to one of the coolest spots at Narita Airport - the rooftop observation deck. Buy a box of takoyaki and a beer, and bring them up to the rooftop to eat, where there are plenty of chairs, tables, and vending machines. You can watch the planes taking off and landing.