Early Autumn Stroll through Naritasan and Environs
December 12, 2016
Walking up Omotesando from the west, we spot HOUEI Coffee’s shop, which includes hard-to-find decaf coffee and other beverages. What a delicious way to start our tour!
So-Mon (the Main Gate) is an imposing Edo-period structure.
When entering a shrine’s or temple’s grounds, first we have to ritually wash. This dragon-head fountain welcomes us just inside the So-mon (Main Gate).
Look above as we pass through the Niō-mon (Deva King Gate), an Edo-era structure with eight pillars and four guardian deities enshrined within.
Immediately behind the gate, we cross a small, black bridge over a wee pond full of turtles sunning themselves under a fountain’s spray,
Up the steep stone steps, and we can see the airplanes headed to and from nearby Narita International Airport above the Great Main Hall and other temple buildings: a contrast of past and present.
Next, we light incense at the enormous bronze brazier.
To the right of the Great Main Hall, the 25m high Three-Story Pagoda is a kaleidoscope of architectural details. Looking close up, we can see animals, flowers, trees, people, and dragons. It has been rebuilt since its original construction in 1712. It enshrines the deity Gochi Nyorai.
The Great Main Hall, where the famous Goma holy fire ceremony is held. Photos inside the Hall are not allowed, but visitors may enter and observe the proceedings. This is where the image of Fudomyō is enshrined. He was the original deity of Naritasan in the year 940, and remains its focal point. The hall is among the newest buildings here, constructed in 1968.
To the left of the Great Main Hall is the Shakado Hall (Good Fortune), rebuilt in 1858, where a statue of Shakyamuni, also known as the Shakanyorai Buddha, is enshrined alongside four images of Bosatsu.
Behind the Great Main Hall, we look across to the rocky hill that holds 44 bronze statues representing disciples of Fudomyō Acalanatha.
Walk left towards the famous Great Peace Pagoda, and there are additional temples and shrines, including the oldest buildings on the property. Gakudo Hall, completed in 1861, and Komyodo Hall behind it, are famous for supporting Edo-era kabuki. The annual Takigi Noh theatre performances are held on an outdoor stage in front of Komyodo Hall.
Here is the Seiryu-Gongen-do Hall (Qing Dragon Authority), which enshrines two deities.
There is the splendid Great Peace Pagoda! We can see it from far away because it is atop the hill, but to be right in front of it is most impressive. This is the newest structure, built in 1984.
Inside, its deities gleam with gold and vivid hues. We can look, but cannot touch.
We wander the stone paths down into the Naritasan Koen (Park). It is cool and verdant, with numerous ponds and streams. The autumn leaf festival is held here every November.
Oh! Here is a resident cat who wants to share some of our picnic lunch.
We buy special pellets at the kiosk by the pond to feed the koi. They swarm for their treats.
Walking back uphill on the southwest side of the park, we enter a sacred grove with many stone monuments. It is so peaceful.
We re-enter the main temple grounds again before heading home up Omotesando. It was a fine day.
Narita Omotesando and Naritasan Shinshoji Temple are accessible from both JR Narita station and Keisei Narita station.
It’s about 90 minutes from Tokyo station, and 15 minutes from Narita Airport Terminal 2 station.
Address: 601-2 Azuma-cho, Narita City, Chiba Prefecture
Long-term Kanto area resident with decades of global travel experience. Has lived on three continents so far, always near bodies of water. Freelance narrator, editor, proofreader, cosmetic name developer, transcriber, writer, and M.C. First one up in the morning to feed the cat and make the bento.