Get a Rich Japanese Cultural Experience in One Layover at Narita Airport using JR Bus Tours

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For many, a trip to Tokyo is the trip of a lifetime. We want to cram in as many experiences in as possible, right down to the last few hours before boarding the plane. Even if you only have a layover, the tantalizing sights of Japan lie just outside the confines of Narita airport.

But on a time restraint, it seems a bit risky to start venturing out on your own. Navigating Japan’s public transport is a challenge for travellers, especially out in the countryside which surrounds Narita airport. The bus and train services will be limited, and probably confusing to non-Japanese tourists.

JR Bus Tours Leaving From Narita Airport

By taking advantage of the JR Narita Select Bus Tour, tourists can use their remaining time in Japan wisely, without having to worry about getting lost, being late, or paying exorbitant costs. The bus tour costs only 3500 yen ($33 USD) including entry fees and activity costs for about a 5-hour tour, which leaves from the airport and will handily drop you off back there at the end.

If you want to enjoy genuine hands-on cultural experiences of traditional Japan, the JR bus tours offer two different courses depending on day. Both the Sawara course and the Shibayama course take you to areas rich in historical importance (information on the destinations is available at the end of this article). YouTuber Angela from the internationallyME channel took the Shibayama Tour and showed us all the fun experiences it entails.

Historical and Cultural Activities in the Narita Area

Both courses include a trip to Boso-no-Mura, an open air museum which faithfully recreates the atmosphere of an Edo period town. You can even rent a kimono to walk around in if you really want to get into the spirit. Local tour guides show you around and you can take part in experiences such as grilling ‘senbei’, a Japanese cracker snack.

If you fancy yourself a bit of an onigiri connoisseur thanks to your travels, how about learning how to make one yourself? At Tako Ajisai-kan Roadside Station, you can use locally sourced ingredients to learn how to make the classic Japanese rice ball. Top it up with some of the home cooking style food available to buy and you’ve got a delicious lunch.

The final leg of the tour is a visit to Shibayama Nioson Temple. If you’ve spent your vacation in Tokyo, you will know that often the most famous temples and shrines will be too packed with tourists to properly take in any of the culture. But on the bus tour you will have a local guide to give you all the history and culture information, and have the chance to see monks praying and conducting masses inside the temple.

At this point you can also visit the Haniwa Museum which is home to many Haniwa terracotta figures. These figures were used from the 5th century onwards to decorate monumental tombs.

The tours are so well organized and time effective that you can fit in so much more into one day than you usually could, and they are also short enough that even someone on a layover could take the tour completely stress free. In the countryside area of Narita, it’s an unmissable chance to see a different and authentic side of Japan, not dominated by tourists like Tokyo is.

Tickets for the JR Bus Tour are available at

View Plaza Travel Service Centers (located at major JR EAST stations)

JR EAST Travel Service Center (Narita Airport Terminal 1 Station)

JR EAST Travel Service Center (Narita Airport Terminal 2-3 Station)

JR Narita Station Ticket Office

Hotels nearby Narita Aiport

(Tickets cannot be reserved via phone they must be bought at one of the above outlets, if there are seats available they may also be purchased directly on the bus.)

Source: JR Bus Kanto

Source: JR Bus Kanto


Article sponsored by JR BUS KANTO

By - grape Japan editorial staff.

Sponsored by:
internationallyME YouTube / JR Bus Kanto