Aug 17, 2009
Nov 17, 2009
. Narita is home to Narita-san Shinshoji Temple which is a large complex complete with Peace pagoda, gardens and a calligraphy museum. The main building is famous for its Goma rite- a ceremony that prays to Fudomyo, the main deity of the temple, to fulfill our wishes, banish evil and chase away hindrances of passion and false knowledge (ooh er!). Most of the buildings had english explanations except for the calligraphy museum which was still beautiful none the less. I stopped at a small traditional restaurant inside the gardens near the museum which was beautifully set out in a traditional style with tatami mats and low tables which looked over a pretty little tea garden. Through a mix of basic english, my trusty phrase book and sign language I was served an extremely tasty chicken terriyaki and then headed out once more to walk through the beautifully peaceful gardens before heading back to the Radisson to collect my stuff and meet my friends.
We stayed at a lovely little Ryokan (they have brochures at the airport) called Oghiya. As I was the only girl I was kindly given a great room in the top of the house with a tatmi mat sleeping area but also a little western style living room with a sofa and t.v and my own bathroom since the main one was communal. Cotton yukata (like a bathrobe) were provided in the room and so, after an epically nice bath (you scrub and rinse down totally in a little section next to the bathtub so that the only purpose of the very deep bathtub is for a nice long soak) I changed into my Yukata, put on my slippers and headed downstairs to meet the others for dinner. We ate in the house's dinning area which was clean and simple with footwells so that you could choose to kneel or sit at the table. It was great to catch up with the group who I hadn't seen for so long and fun to catch up about their Aikido tournament over some beers while absorbing the fact that I was truly now in Japan and would soon be heading on to Tokyo. We talked till quite late before heading to sleep on the traditional futon matresses that get laid on the floor of the tatami area with nice quilted duvets on top.
The next day we got up early since the group had to check in for their flight at Narita airport and I headed with them to grab the Narita limited express (more stops but cheaper than the skyliner) into Tokyo.
I have wanted to visit Japan ever since I was about 11 years old and developed an interest in Japanese anime and culture (I remember watching Saint Seiya vaguely when I was tiny in my grandma's house in Paris but I'm embarrassed to say I think Pokemon probably did more to make go out and start researching Japan). Walking through Narita airport I began to develop the kind of silly grin when you're in the process of achieving a life's dream or accomplishing something you never thought you'd actually do. Everything about the airport somehow seemed better, brighter and cooler than your average western airport (Maybe the transition from China helped this)- it was clean, efficient, everyone was polite and most people I engaged with at desks etc spoke basic english. Woo hoo!!! I arrived quite late and so headed directly to my hotel- The Radisson in Narita which was neat, clean and had a pool, gym and even a mini golf course! It's a stop for alot of airline staff too so again, easy to get around since most people spoke english. I had only booked myself in for one night since by some weird coincidence, my high school aikido team were flying home through Narita in two days and so, we'd agreed to all meet up at accommodation they were organising, I slept like a log that night and the next day, after my nice complimentary breakfast, left my bag with the concierge and went off to explore Narita until they arrived