When many people think of Narita, they may think of the international airport and the giant shipping and logistical industries that support it. But Narita has plenty to offer for the visitor and combined with nearby Sawara it could quite easily be the highlight of your stay in Tokyo.
Over recent times, Narita and the Japanese tourism people have tried to get people who have long waits at the international airport for flights to take a few hours out and visit Narita. Those who have visited the area have been richly rewarded by the experience as Narita is certainly something unique and not to be missed.
The old town of Narita is lined with old wooden shops and traditional buildings making it truly quaint. The old town is regarded as one of the best traditional precincts in Japan. The old town has over recent years got a bit of a reputation as a party town at night due to the large number of air crew and travellers who have heard about what Narita has to offer.
The Narita City Round Bus is an ideal way to get around to all the major sights and attractions in Narita. The retro red and green old tram shaped bus is hard to miss. The bus can be caught from both terminals of the airport and even the JR Narita Station. From Tokyo, Narita can be reached easily on a train via the Narita Express or the Keisei Skyliner, but there are also a few slower and cheaper local rail alternatives.
Sawara is about 70 kilometres from Tokyo and about 15 kilometres to the north of Narita and is separated by the Tone River. Most of the tourist sites are on the northern side of the river with the municipal area to the south. You can catch the JR Narita Line train service to Sawara.
The historic area hugs the river and a walk along the willow lined bank of the river is a exceptionally beautiful experience with plenty of traditional houses and shops to explore. A popular excursion is to catch the Ono Gawa sightseeing boat tour which gives an excellent perspective of the city from the river. The traditional area has a host of small lanes and maze like alleys which are great to explore, you never know what you will see or what special trinket or gift you might come across. Sawara is home to a large artist community, so there is always some beautiful craft work or art to be found.
Sawara is home to several historic sake breweries including Tokun Shizo and Baba Honten they are the perfect place to taste and purchase some of Japan’s favourite spirit.
For plant lovers, the Sawara Municipal Aquatic Botanical gardens are a unique botanical gardens as it is dedicated to aquatic plants. There are an extraordinary collection including thousands upon thousands of iris and lotus are an amazing sight all year round but especially when they are in full bloom. The iris flower in May and June while the lotus flow a few months later in July, August and early September.