Narita is a city in Chiba Prefecture, roughly 60 kilometers east of central Tokyo. The city is most famous as the site of Tokyo's international airport, which is commonly known as Narita Airport.Narita's main tourist attraction is Naritasan, a popular Buddhist temple with a history of over 1000 years. Naritasan makes a great destination for transit travelers who want to get a glimpse of traditional Japan or anybody else who has some excess time at the airport.
Narita is the city that a big number of foreign travelers go through since it is where the Japan's biggest international airport is located. Although this airport is sometimes called "New Tokyo International Airport" and many people believe they are flying into Tokyo, it is NOT in Tokyo. Narita is actually a city in Chiba Prefecture.
The airport might be the biggest "attraction" of this city, but Narita is also home to a prestigious Buddhist temple called "Narita-san Shinsho-ji". Narita is the host to the Gion Festival and it is in this temple where most of it is held.
The vast majority of Narita's visitors come there for one reason only: Narita Airport, Tokyo's international gateway. But there are a few attractions in the vicinity if you have a short layover and don't want to waste 2-3 hours of it on the long hike to Tokyo. Narita Airport and Japan Tourism were experimenting with conducting short tours for passengers with layovers at Narita Airport, but this seems to have ended.
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Narita also had other problems. Arguments over slots and landing fees have plagued the busy airport. Because so many airlines want to use it, the Japanese aviation authorities have limited the number of flights each airline can operate from this airport, making the airport expensive for both airlines and their passengers.
NARITA AIRPORT Recently, Tokyo International Airport was allowed to have other international flights within Asia, as well as to Hawaii, in an attempt to alleviate Narita's capacity problems. There has been some discussion about exchanging roles between Narita airport and Haneda to accommodate Tokyo residents as Narita is in Chiba prefecture and a typical train ride from even the eastern parts of Tokyo on an express train takes roughly 1 hour.
In May 2001, Kim Jong-nam, the son of North Korean President Kim Jong-il, was arrested at New Tokyo International Airport for travelling with a forged passport, and was deported to the People's Republic of China.
On 1 April 2004, New Tokyo International Airport was officially renamed Narita International Airport, reflecting its popular designation since the 1970s.
On 13 July 2004, Bobby Fischer was detained at Narita Airport for allegedly using an invalid U.S. passport while trying to board a Japan Airlines flight to Ninoy Aquino International Airport outside Manila; he left Japan a year later after obtaining asylum in Iceland.
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Any foreign visitor who wishes to enter
Japan must have a passport, which will remain valid during the
period of stay.
Argentina, Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Chile,
Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Rep., El Salvador,
Finland, France, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Israel,
Italy, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mauritius, the Netherlands,
Norway, Portugal (except when the passport was originally issued
in present or former Portuguese colonies), San Marino, Singapore,
Slovenia, Spain, Surinam, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and Uruguay.
Nationals of many countries are eligible to enter Japan without
a visa unless the purpose of the visit is to reside in Japan,
to obtain employment or to otherwise engage in remunerative
The following is a list of nationals of countries that have
"Reciprocal Visa Exemption Arrangements" with Japan:
For a period of 6 months or less.
Austria, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein,
Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK citizens only)
For a period of 3 months or less
For a period of 90 days or less
Andorra, Australia, Barbados, Bulgaria, Czech
Rep., Estonia, Hong Kong, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Monaco,
New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia and the U.S.A.
For a period of up to 14 days
Nationals of countries that do not have "Reciprocal Visa Exemption
Arrangements" with Japan must obtain a visa.
A "Temporary Visitor's
Visa" is usually required as permission to stay in Japan for
a period of up to 90 days for non-remunerative activities such
as sightseeing, participating in amateur sports, visiting relatives,
taking inspection tours, participating in lectures or research,
attending conferences, making business contacts or other similar
Needless to say, the "Temporary Visitor's Visa"
cannot be used for any remunerative purposes, which involve
profit making or payment acceptance within Japan by the visitor.
To apply for a visa, the applicant must apply
in person to a Japanese Embassy or a consulate, usually in his
or her home country. The following documents must be submitted
whatever the purpose of visit you are going to make:
(1) Valid passport;
(2) Two passport photos taken within the six months previous
to the date of application;
(3) Two official visa application forms, available at the embassy
(4) Documents certifying the purpose of the visit.
As the type of documents required for the application
may differ according to the purpose of your visit, the applicant
is advised to check with the Japanese Embassy or consulate beforehand.
Visa Fee Exemption: The nationals of some 60
countries around the world are exempted from visa fees.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
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Tap water is safe to drink anywhere in Japan.
Mineral water including major imported brands can be easily
obtained from super markets, convenience stores and other similar
Medical systems and facilities in Japan are
that you can expect to receive a high standard medical treatment,
should you have a problem with your health during your stay.
There are no inoculations required for entering
Japan from anywhere around the world.
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Japan is one the most expensive countries in Asia, if not the world for travel, but there are ways of keeping the outlays to a just-about bearable level. A skeleton daily budget, assuming you stay in the cheapest hostels, eat modestly and travel short distances, would work out to US$60.00 . Add about US$10.00 for extras like snacks, drinks, admission fees and entertainment. Staying in business or deluxe hotels and eating in pricey restaurants can easily have the ticker tipping US$200.00 . Long-distance travel is a real budget buster in Japan - if you intend to travel around to different places, it's well worth investing in a Japan Rail Pass. At the other end of the spectrum, high rollers will have no problems off-loading their cash. Japan specialises in establishments catering to the ostentatious flattery of business accounts - the higher the bill, the greater the prestige of the guests.
There is no limit on the amount of any currency
that may be brought into or taken out of Japan. However, if
you transport (any currencies, checks, securities or other monies.)
exceeding 1,000,000 yen worth in Japanese currency into or out
of the country then you must complete a customs declaration.
The unit of Japanese currency is yen. Coins
are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500
yen and bank notes in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and
10,000 yen. (1 US Dollar = 116 yen as of December 2005)
* As of November 2004, old bank notes are still in wide circulation.
You can buy yen at foreign exchange banks
and other authorized money exchangers. At the international
airports, currency exchange counters are usually open during
normal office hours. The exchange rate fluctuates daily depending
on the money market.
World Currency Shop
Travelers Checks and Credit Cards
Travelers Checks are accepted by leading banks,
hotels, ryokan (Japanese inns) and stores in major cities.
International credit cards such as American
Express, VISA, Diners Club and MasterCard are also acceptable
at these major establishments. However, Credit card transactions
are not always convenient outside big cities so obtaining cash
beforehand is recommended when you travel to the countryside.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are commonly
available in large urban areas throughout Japan. However, many
do not accept foreign credit cards or cash cards and their service
hours are very often restricted. Many ATMs operate only during
banking hours although some remain open until 18:00-20:00 on
weekdays. Often, weekend services are restricted to Saturday
For ATMs that accept credit cards, it is advised
to contact each credit company beforehand and check the location
of each ATM and its availability as these conditions vary from
machine to machine.
Foreign credit, debit and cash cards can be
used at over 21,000 Post Office ATMs in locations throughout
Japan. Post offices where this service is available display
stickers indicating which cards are accepted. Cards from the
Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Visa Electron networks can be used.
Accepted credit cards include Visa, MasterCard, American Express
and Diners Club.
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Not that much. There is a large Aeon shopping mall outside of town, which you can get to by bus, if you absolutely have to visit a branch of the sporting goods store "The Sports Authority." There are souvenir stores on the road leading to the temple, as well as a reasonably interesting "100 yen" store -- which actually sells items for ¥105 including consumption tax -- along the way. Still, everything should be cheaper than at the airport.
LaOX , Yourelm 3F, Kozu-no-Mori 4-5-3 (next to Keisei Kozu-no-Mori stn). A branch of Japan's biggest electronics chain, which also handles duty-free sales — although finding an English speaker will be hit or miss. Fairly convenient location one station further down from Keisei Narita, just note that express trains do not stop here.
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- Papas is one good place to eat in Narita. It's a wee place not far from the main 'Sando' street, which only holds about 16 people. But the food is great (Japanese-style 'izakaya' type food, or 'Sets' at Yen 1500 for drink, starter and choice of main meal) and the service from Mama-san and Papa-san is first-rate. He speaks great English too!
- Cafe Le Bon, very close to Narita-san temple. Popular despite relatively late opening hours. It consists of one upper room with a semi circle of hot plates, on which your food is cooked in front of you. The menu consists of one item: an all-you-can-eat meal including a huge drink, roasted vegetables, gyoza, oriental chicken, chips and ice cream, for around ¥1000. Stuffy and hot, but extremely welcoming, friendly, quick, and the food is delicious.
- Grill House Hero's, 845-8 Hanasaki-Cho (walk down the little street to the right of JR Narita station), +81 476 22-9002. Open daily 5PM-0AM. One of the best places to eat Okonomi-yaki style food. Menu is available in English. Food prices range from ¥580(cheese omelette) to ¥1900 (Steak), Drinks are ¥320(softdrinks) and ¥550(Beer).
- Lion's Den Across the street from the Barge. Old airline crew hang out. Local mom and pop restaurant with cheap dining selections.
- Barge-Inn, Omote-sandō (the road leading to the temple), Great pub serving western-style food, plus local & international beers. Every Saturday there's live music and/or dancing.
- The JetLag Club, About 50yds round the corner from the Barge, there's another watering hole run by a Belgian guy named Vince. The beer's great, and the atmosphere is really friendly. Free popcorn is provided, as well as a delivery service from 'Papas'.
- The Truck. You can get a free bus from outside the Barge to the 'Truck' which features more drinking and Karaoke. Apparently, it used to actually be a 'Truck', but now it more of a 'room'! Anyway, great fun once in a while!
- The Cage Out of the main train station, straight through the plaza, right at the AM/PM, down about 100 yards, across the street, 2nd floor. Karaoke bar.
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Probably the easiest way to go between Narita City and Narita Airport is by using the Narita City Tourist Bus. Fares are ¥200 per ride or ¥500 for a day pass; the bus stops at Narita-san and at the Aeon shopping center.
It is also possible to go between the city and the airport by using the JR and Keisei local trains, although these are more expensive and not as convenient.
There is also a slightly more complex local bus network run by Narita Kuko Kotsu which is mainly useful for accessing the Aviation Museum and industrial areas around the airport. Fares for this line range from ¥150 to ¥420 depending on distance.
Naritasan (Naritasan Shinshoji Temple) is a large and popular Buddhist temple complex in Narita City, not far from Narita Airport. It is a great site to visit if you have three or more hours to spend around the airport and wish to catch a glimpse of historic Japan.
Naritasan was built in the year 940 around its main sacred object of worship, a statue of the Buddhist Fudo Myoo deity. Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon Sect and one of the most important figures in Japan's religious history, is said to have carved the statue.
A broad variety of temple buildings can be viewed on the spacious grounds of Naritasan, including the temple's new and former main halls, a three storied pagoda and a huge tahoto type pagoda, named Great Pagoda of Peace. There is also a pleasant park, which incorporates both, traditional Japanese and European features.
Part of the fun of visiting Naritasan is the approach to it. Stretching over about one kilometer from the railway stations to the temple, Omotesando is a lively street lined by numerous restaurants and stores, selling traditional crafts, foods and souvenirs.
is located near the northern end of the main runway of Narita International Airport. Unfortunately there is no bus service to this location. There is nice little park with beautiful cherry trees and a good view of airplanes landing and taking off from the main runway.
Sanrizuka Goryo Ranch Memorial Hall +81 476 35-0442.
25min by bus from JR Narita Station. Open 9AM-4PM daily except Mondays. Admission free.
Museum of Aeronautical Science +81 479 78-0557.
About 15min by bus from Narita Airport (JR/Keisei Station). Open 10AM-5PM. Closed on Mondays, year end and new years holidays. There is a charge to get into the main building, which has an observation deck on the fifth floor.
Chiba Prefectural Flower and Tree Center (Botanical Garden)+81 476 32-0237.
Open 9AM-4:30PM. Closed on Mondays, year end and new years holidays. Admission free.
Narita Tourist Pavilion+81 476 24-3232.
Learn about Japanese Tea Ceremony every Thursday from 10:30AM. Open 10AM-6PM (June through September) and 9AM-5PM (October through May). Closed on Mondays and during year end period.
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There is also a network of Airport Limousine shuttle buses that serve most major hubs within Tokyo, stopping at major hotels, as well as some suburbs. Prices are comparable to the Narita Express train services (¥3,000/person), but are convenient for the first-time traveler as they take you directly to your hotel. The Airport Limousine is also the best way to transfer to Haneda Airport. The journey to most points in central Tokyo takes 90 minutes or so, but watch out in rush hour (especially on the way to the airport) as there may be traffic jams.
The Airport Limousine buses make three pickup stops (Terminal 1 North Wing, Terminal 1 South Wing, Terminal 2) and two dropoff stops (Terminal 1 and Terminal 2).
A taxi to central Tokyo is extremely expensive, on the order of ¥30000 if you hail one directly by yourself (equivalent to a few nights stay in the average Tokyo hotel), and you are more likely to get stuck in a traffic jam than save any time. Flat fare taxi cabs to Tokyo go for around ¥17000-19000 from special taxi ranks, but even so, if you're in a hurry, it's generally much faster and cheaper to take the Narita Express or the Skyliner, and change to a taxi upon arriving in Tokyo or Ueno. If you're not in a hurry, consider the airport limousine bus.
Travelling by Air
- The nearest international airport to Niigata is Tokyo/Narita Airport(NRT). This has direct flights to worldwide destinations.
- Niigata Airport(KIJ) is located east of the central part of Niigata. This is a smaller provincial airport, but has limited international flights including a daily flight to Seoul/Incheon Airport(ICN) in Korea and regular domestic flights to Osaka/Itami(ITM), Nagoya/Chubu Centair(NGO), Nagoya/Komaki(NKM), Sapporo(CTS), Kobe(UKB), Fukuoka(FUK) and Okinawa(OKA). Note that there are no flights to Tokyo/Narita(NRT), Tokyo/Haneda(HND) and Osaka/Kansai(KIX).
- The most convenient route from abroad is to take a flight to Tokyo/Narita(NRT) and go to Niigata by train (see the section `From Tokyo/Narita Airport to Niigata' below).
- You can also fly to Niigata Airport via Nagoya/Chubu(NGO) or Seoul/Incheon(ICN), if you can find a good connection.
- It takes 25 minutes by taxi from Niigata Airport to Niigata Prefectural Civic Center. Please ask a taxi driver "To Niigata Kenmin-Kaikan". It costs approximately ¥3500.
The cheapest way to get from Niigata Airport to Niigata Prefectural Civic Center is to take airport bus services bound for Niigata Railway Station operating in connection with flights, transfer another bus (No. 7 or 7A) at `Bandai City Center' and get off at `Kyogijo-Mae (Niigata City Sports Park)'. You should walk across the street to transfer the bus at Bandai City Center (See the map around JR Niigata Station). The journey takes about 40 minutes (excluding a wait for transfer) and costs ¥530 (¥350 from Airport to Bandai City Center and ¥180 from Bandai City Center to Kyogijo-Mae).
The bus fare will be raised on 1st December to ¥370 and ¥200, respectively.
From Tokyo/Narita Airport to Niigata
- From Narita Airport to Niigata, take Narita Express of East Japan Railway (JR East) to Tokyo Station. It takes approximately 60 minutes. From Tokyo to Niigata, see the next section. The cost from Narita Airport to Niigata is approximately ¥13000.
From Tokyo to Niigata
- From Tokyo to Niigata, the most convenient way is to take Joetsu Shinkansen (Superexpress for Niigata) of JR EastIt takes approximately 2 hours. Timetable of Joetsu Shinkansen
- Highway bus services from Ikebukuro in Tokyo to Niigata operate every one hour from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm as well as an overnight coach. It takes about 5 hours 30 minutes and costs ¥5250 for a one-way and ¥9450 for a round-trip (within 10 days). You can get off the bus at 'Shiyakusho-Mae (City Hall)', which is about 5 minutes walk from Niigata Prefectural Civic Center.
From JR Niigata Station to Niigata Prefectural Civic Center (the workshop place)
- From Niigata Station to JR Niigata Prefectural Civic Center, take bus No. 1 or 7/7A at Bandai-Guchi bus terminal and get off at `Kyogijo-Mae' ( Bus No. 7/7A) or 'Hakusan Koen Mae (Bus No. 1). It takes approximately 20 minutes and costs ¥180. Niigata Prefectural Civic Center is a 3 minutes walk from the bus stop. (The bus fare will be raised on 1st December to ¥200.)
- Another way from Niigata Station is to take a train (JR Echigo Line) and get off at Hakusan Station. It takes 5 minutes and costs ¥180. Hakusan station is 12 minutes walk away from Niigata Prefectural Civic Center.
- If you want to walk from a hotel around Niigata Station, please cross the Bandai Bridge or the Yachiyo Bridge and walk along the Shinano River. It is about 2.5 or 3km.
It is about 1.5km walk from Hotel Okura at the foot of the Bandai Bridge.
Furumachi, the heart of Niigata City, is just over 1km away from Civic Center.
From other cities to Niigata
- From Kansai area (Osaka or Kyoto), the fastest way is to take a flights from Osaka/Itami Airport to Niigata Airport.
Several trains via JR Hokuriku Line are also available. There is no direct train in the daytime from Osaka to Niigata, but you should transfer a train at Kanazawa (or Toyama).
You can take a direct overnight train or bus from Osaka and Kyoto to Niigata, too.
- There are direct fights from Sapporo, Nagoya, Kobe, Fukuoka and Okinawa.
- From Nagoya, Sendai and Kanazawa, highway buses (daytime or overnight) as well as JR trains are available.
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