Narita is a city in Chiba Prefecture, roughly 60 kilometers east of central Tokyo. If you only have a short layover in Narita airport, or if you are spending your last night in Japan near the airport Narita city is worth a visit.
The city has another important role; besides being a gateway to Japan, it is the temple town of Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple, a popular Buddhist temple with a history of over 1000 years, which attracts more than 13 million worshippers a year. Shinsho-ji Temple has always a time-honored place of worship since it was erected in 940. In addition to the temple, the city and surroundings have several other attractions that can keep transit travelers busy. The road leading to the temple is named Omotesando, and this is the most picturesque street in the city. It is lined by traditional wooden houses and shops, and one of the delicacies sold here you should definitely give a try is unagi, eel.
Along the same lines, if you like traditional looking houses then a stop in Sawara should also be on your list. Sawara is a small waterfront town with many remnants of the past. The National Museum of Japanese History is also great for history buffs or those who want to learn a bit more about Japan’s colorful past.
For those who need some relaxation, Yamato no Yu can offer you just that. It is an onsen complex, where you can soak in 8 outdoor baths which are especially wonderful in colder weather. Naritasan Park is also a place to relax a bit, the walking course leads you past plenty of trees which are beautiful when in bloom and in autumn.
Or if you simply want to do some shopping, then the Aeon mall is a good option. There are 180 stores including souvenir shops, and a visit is a good way to sample a bit of the local daily life in Japan.