Harajuku + Omotosando Superguide

Name: Harajuku + Omotosando

Kind: Town

Location: 35°40’11.89″ N 139°42’32.43″ E

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Harajuku + Omotosando are 2 famous co-joined areas in west central Tokyo. Both spots are popular among young people and tourists.

Harajuku is most famous for its shopping street – Takeshita Street.

Just to the north is Yoyogi and just to the south is Shibuya. Harajuku Station is on the JR Yamanote Line on the west side of Tokyo. A brand new larger JR station was completed in late 2019 to replace the historic aging older wooden station, which is now much too small for the tourist load. The new station is just south of the old one in the same block.

Just to the west of the station is Yoyogi National Gymnasium and Yoyogi Park – one of the most popular parks in Tokyo – and well worth a stop in spring, summer, and fall.

To get here, take the any JR line that changes with the JR Yamanote Line, and get off at Harajuku Station. As a footnote, there is actually an other entrance/exit all the way on the west side of Omotosando. You can walk underground to the exit, or walk all the way down Omotosando Blvd. and re-enter at the station entrance on the north side of the street.

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Old Harajuku JR Station. The new station is on the left. Turn left from this vantage point at the next corner to enter Omotosando Blvd. Takeshita Street is to the right in this photo, out of frame.

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Old Harajuku JR Station exit. The new station is to the right. Takeshita Street is straight ahead. This exit is shown in the photo above under the clock.

Harajuku Station 200321a2.jpg
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Newly completed Harajuku Station on the JR Line. The old station is just to the right, out of frame.

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East side exit. You can take the Chiyoda, Ginza, or Hanzomon Lines. The JR station is straight ahead a few miles.

After you exit the station, you can either turn left, and be at the entrance to Takeshita Street, or you can head right (south) and end up at a large intersection. If you head east from the intersection, you’ll be heading down Omotosando Blvd – which is the main shopping and restaurant street in the area.

Takeshita Street is shorter and takes less time, but is also much more crowded since it is smaller and more popular. Takeshita Street is mainly known for its several Crepé shops – including the famous Marion Crepés which was founded in 1976. There is also another Marion Crepés in the backstreets of Akihabara. There are also lots of clothing stores, restaurants, other food places, oddity shops, and a small Bic Camera annex.

There are also a few hidden gems if you’re willing to venture down a few side streets for an off-the-beaten-path adventure. We’ll cover a few of those later.

Takeshita Street

The entrance to Takeshita Street is located at 35°40’17.76″ N 139°42’10.93″ E right across from the entrance of the old Harajuku Station. Head east down the street.

It’s usually pretty crowded – espescially on nights and weekends. You’ll have to jostel with lots of other people. Marion Crepés is about 1/2 way down on the left.

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Old harajuku Station exit just across from the entrance to Takeshita Street.

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Entrance to Takeshita Street. There is an excellent Hoshino’s Coffee just to the left under the sign over the entrance. There is also a Family Mart.

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Giant crepé menu on Takeshita Street. Around $5-$7 each.

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Angel Crepés shop.

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Angel Crepés. You can eat yourself silly at these places. But after walking 10-15 miles a day, you’ll want to.

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World-famous Marion Crepés.

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Bic Camera Select annex on Takeshita Street. Just to the right is a Daiso 100¥ store.

About 1/2 way down Takeshita Street on the right, you’ll find a small side street that heads up a hill. Head up this street to the end – past several shops and boutiques, and then head left as the street curves around. Wander down a bit futher and at the end you’ll find the Depla Pol Chocolatier. This fabulous place has all kinds of goodies and waffles to boot. It’s only open from 10:00 AM to 8PM but well worth it. Its located at approximately 35°40’15.61″ N 139°42’14.89″ E. But because it’s off the beaten path, there is almost never a line and you can usually get right in.

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Head left at this bldg.

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Entrance to Depla Pol Chocolatier.

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There is also an excellent bar/restaurant hidden back on this street.

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Along this street is an amusingly named beer/coffee shop called Farms – by Good Munchies.

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A stroll down Takeshita St.

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Just south of JR Harajuku Station. The new station bldg. is on the left. The tall NTT HQ bldg. (also known as the “bubble building”) is in the center off in the distance in Shinjuku to the north. To the right is Omotosando Blvd.

Omotosando Blvd.

Omotosando Blvd. entrance east of Harajuku Station. The Omotosando Hills shopping center is on the left.

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Heading east down Omotosando Blvd.


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Further down Omotosando Blvd. on the left side is a MOS Burger Café.


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There is also a Tokyu Plaza with an open-air garden on top.


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Apple Store on Omotosando Blvd.


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Plenty of nice restaurants along Omotosando Blvd.


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Omotosando Blvd. facing east.


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A side street off Omotosando Blvd.


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Another side street.

If you head down Omotosando Blvd, past the first major intersection, at around 35°40’04.35″ N 139°42’24.64″ E on the right across from the Ralph Lauren Flagship Store, you’ll see a side street. If you turn right here and head up the street, just on your right you’ll come to the best pancake shop in Harajuku: Flippers. This place is so good there is usually a line. The pancake craze has hit Tokyo and this is one of the best pancake shops in the city. Be prepared to wait and pay a few dollars to pig out on pancakes + fruit. But be careful – you can eat yourself sick in this place if you overdo it.

Flipper’s pancake shop in Omotosando.

There is another, competing pancake shop called A Happy Pancake (Shiawase no Pancake – literally Pancake Happiness) in Omotosando worth checking out. See our review of the one in Ikebukuro for links + more info.

There are all kinds of additional shops down side streets. It’s well worth it to wander down some of these streets to see what’s there. There is even a TinTin store tucked back on the south side of Omotosando Blvd. If you arrive early enough, you can easily walk all of Harajuku + Omotosando in a day. Try to avoid weekends and nights because that is when the area is packed with crowds of tourists.

If you walk all the way down Omotosando Blvd. about .7 miles, you’ll come to Rt. 413. If you head left (north) here, you’ll find all kinds of interesting stuff. There’s a great upscale noodle restaurant called Miyota. There’s also an Olympic bicycle shop which has some really nice bikes at reasonable prices. There’s an elegant upscale furniture store called Modern Works, and a few small drink spots: Beer Brain in a small wood shack on a trailer, and Stockholm – a small café with a tiny rooftop porch. All worth checking out


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Miyota in Omotosando.


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Beer Brain in east Omotosando.


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Stockholm Roast in east Omotosando.

Meiji Jingu Shrine

Back behind the new Harajuku Station to the west is Meiji Jingu Shrine. This is one of the most famous and popular shrines in all of Tokyo. It’s surrounded by a huge park with spectacular gardens. Well worth a look. To reach the entrance, just exit the station, then head over the small bridge behind it and to the right.

Just to the southwest of Meiji Jingu Shrine is Yoyogi Park – also well worth a visit – and it’s free. There ‘s a small pond inside, lots of walking paths, and large grass areas to sit in. It’s a popular spot for picnics among locals in spring and fall. To reach it, head south (left) from the entrance to Meiji Jingu Shrine just for a few steps, then turn right under the pedestrian overpass. It’s just a few yards down on the right.

In fact, you can walk the entire road encircling both parks in under an hour or two. Both are well worth a look.

A Few More Notables

There are a few other interesting spots to check out: Watari-um Museum, Nezu Museum, and The Awesome Store. See links below for more.

Well, that’s it for Harajuku/Omotosando. Enjoy your trip – both are easy to access, and compact enough to see everything in a day. It’s one of Tokyo’s most intersting spots and well worth a look.

LINKS

https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/destinations/tokyo/index.html?src=gnavi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harajuku_Station

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/01/29/national/new-harajuku-station-building-unveiled-march-opening/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harajuku

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omotesand%C5%8D

http://omotesando.or.jp/jp

http://omotesando.or.jp/en/shop_category

https://thosewhowandr.com/blog/things-to-do-harajuku

https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/things-to-do/50-things-to-do-in-harajuku

https://whereintokyo.com/venues/25094.html

http://www.ao-aoyama.com/

http://japanshopping.org/

https://whereintokyo.com/venues/25094.html

https://favy-jp.com/topics/2559

https://t5pg.jp/shops/a009-011-003/

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1066451-d8612608-Reviews-Sobakiri_Miyota-Minato_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

http://tokyobelly.blogspot.com/2017/02/omotesando-soba-kiri-miyota-delicious.html

http://www.poldepla.be/index.php?c=about&id=42

http://www.tbb.works/

https://stockholmroast.jp/

Watari-um Museum

Nezu Museum

IKEA Harajuku – Shopping And Vegan-Friendly Swedish Delights

https://matcha-jp.com/en/15

https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-temples-shrines/meiji-shrine

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3002.html

Harajuku Guide @ The Best Japan

VIDS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsOBBA-hvfM

Narita Airport + Narita City Superguide

Name: Narita City

Kind: Town

Location: 35°46’35.97″ N 140°19’07.47″ E

Updated 7/4/2020!

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If you are flying into Nartia Airport in Japan, you may want to consider staying over a few nights in Narita City just southwest of the airport.

Take the Keisei Line directly from the airport to Narita Station and get off.

Note that there are 2 different lines and stations in Narita – the Keisei Line and the JR lines at the JR station. Both stations are within a few blocks of each other near the town square. Don’t get these confused with the stations at the airport. Narita City is actually a few miles southwest of the airport.

Skyliner Info Desk @ Narita International.

There are many good hotels in Narita City but we recommend APA Narita Ekimae – it’s 1 block from the station, very clean, quiet, and reasonably priced at around $65/night. You’ll see the word Ekimae at many hotels in Japan. It means “At the station”.

Just north of the airport is also the Narita View Hotel at around $50-60/night. Well worth the money and closer to the airport. Just keep in mind this option is outside the town of Narita itself so you’ll have to take the train into town to sightsee.

If you take the Skyliner to/from the airport to Keisei Ueno station, there’s a very good luggage forwarding service at that station which will forward your bags the next day for $9/bag. This works in both directions – to/from the airport to your hotel.

Narita City itself is a charming old small town with lots to do.

There are stations for both JR trains and Keisei lines in the same block in the town square.

Step off the train from the aiport onto a local street and you’re instanly in small town Japan.

Unless you’re flying in from Asia, it’s likely your flight was long. You can rest in Narita City overnight, before heading back to the airport to catch the NE’X or Skyliner into Tokyo.

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If you’re feeling adventurous, walk one mile from Narita City’s center on backstreets to get to a large AEON shopping mall. There is also a street called Narita Omotesando on the way lined with lots of traditional shops + restaurants.

Just to the left of the JR Narita Station in the city square is the Narita City Tourist Information Office. There’s actually a lot to do in Narita City – including a nice museum. Also be sure to check out the impressive Narita City Hall.

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View of business district in Narita City. The edge of the city hall is the sloped green-roofed bldg. on the left center in this photo.

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Entering Narita City Square from the south. Turn right here for Narita Omotosando. The JR Narita Station is out of frame to the left.

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Narita City Square. APA Hotel is the small white bldg. in the distance to the left of the tall brown bldg. on the right.

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JR Narita Station, right. The Narita Tourism Office is just to the left in the same building. Turn right at this light and go north here to get to the main shopping area. In the 3-story bldg. on the left there is a very nice and large Family Mart.

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Keisei Narita Station – take the Keisei Skyliner out of Narita International Airport and get off here. This is just across from the town square.

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Narita City Hall

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There’s a huge map of Narita City just next to the city hall.

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Most hotels in Narita City are conveniently located. Easy to use convenience stores (conbini) and parking abound.

Eat like a king cheap out of conbini (convenience stores). A lot of the food is quite healthy such as cheap pre-made salads, lemon tea, and vegetable drinks. This entire meal only cost around 600¥ (about $6).

Wandering Around

You can actaully have a great time in Narita City just walking around. Pick a street and just start walking to see what you’ll discover. If you’re up for getting a Japanese Driver’s License, you can even buy a brand new Honda scooter at local dealers for as little as $900, like the one shown below.
The real attraction in Narita is the long shopping street just to the north of the town square. Nippon Wandering TV covered this street in the video shown at the end of this post. To get there go west from either station, into the city square, then turn right (north) immediately. There are all kinds of nice little shops along this street which are well worth a stroll.

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Wander around.

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Narita is full of simple + charming small homes such as this one. Note the typhoon shutters on the left side.

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Narita City has plenty of old-school charm to keep you occupied – well worth a few days exploring.

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Epic train tracks heading back to Narita International. Narita City Hall is just across the street to the right, out of frame.

More Narita International Resources

Narita to Tokyo: Late-Night Transfer Options
https://tokyocheapo.com/travel/narita-to-tokyo-late-night-transfer/

While trains are one of the easiest ways of getting from Narita during the day, they aren’t really an option late at night. The N’EX is $36, last leaves Terminal 1 at 9:44pm depositing you at Tokyo Station just under 60 min, and Ikebukuro at 11:09pm (which should give you enough time to transfer to a connecting train for you area, if it isn’t one of those).

https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/nex/

https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/nex_round.html

N’EX Round Trip can be purchased from JR EAST Service Centers + JR Ticket Offices at Narita Terminals 1, 2·3. Purchase is not available outside Japan, we recommend buying the ticket immediately on arrival.

Note several JR Service Centers also offer hotel reservations + luggage services.
https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/customer_support/service_center_tokyo.html

Adults $60-$70. Tickets are valid 14 days. Trains operate every 30 mins + take about an hour from Narita to Tokyo station. Use Ordinary Car reserved seats on Narita Express. A one-way ticket is valid for use on one limited express.

Station Office Office Hours
Narita Airport Terminal 1 JR EAST Travel Service Center All Days 8:15-19:00

JR Ticket Office All Days 6:30-8:15, 19:00-21:45

Narita Terminal 1 Travel Center All Days 9:00-20:00
Narita Airport Terminal 2·3 JR EAST Travel Service Center All Days 8:15-20:00

JR Ticket Office All Days 6:30-8:15, 20:00-21:45
  • Tokyo Station
  • Shinjuku Station
  • Shibuya Station
  • Ikebukuro Station
  • Ueno Station
  • Hamamatsucho Station
  • Narita Airport
  • Haneda Airport
  • Sendai Station
  • Shinkansen and limited express ticket sales
  • Suica sales
  • Various other tickets

Currency exchange window/Foreign currency exchange ATMs
http://www.travelex.co.jp/JP/For-Individuals/Products-and-Services/Products-and-Services-for-Individuals/

7 Bank
https://www.sevenbank.co.jp/intlcard/index2.html

Footnote: T-CAT As a Cheap Return Alternative

Here’s a cheap travel hack for the return trip to Narita when you’re ready to leave Japan: Use the Tokyo City Air Terminal (aka T-CAT) bus service. This little known bus service is way out on the east side of Tokyo right in the Metro Hanzomon Line’s Suitengumae (pronounced Sweet-ten-goo-may) Station. There is also First Cabin Suitengumae capsule hotel just 3 blocks down the street from T-CAT @ around $42/night. When you’re ready to return to Narita you could take the NE’X or Skyliner back, but the T-CAT bus service will shoot you there in silent comfort for a mere $9. It also has busses to Haneda Airport.

To get to T-CAT, jump on the Metro Hanzomon Line down to Suitengumae Station, and take the City Air Terminal District Gate exit. You can also enter the station from the street. In fact, it’s only a few miles from Tokyo Station itself so you can even walk there from Tokyo Sta. – and see some sights along the way. You can also make reservations on T-CAT’s website in advance.

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Hanzomon Line is indicated by the purple circle and “Z”, in this case at Otemachi Sta. just north of Tokyo Sta. Suitengumae is Hanzomon Z10 – just 2 stops east. The blue Metro system symbol is on the left.

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For T-CAT exit City Air Terminal District Gate.

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Metro Hanzomon Line map. Suitengumae is roughly in the center (Z10), shown in red, and Otemachi Sta. is just 2 stops to the east at Z08. You can also take the line all the way to its western terminus @ Shibuya, shown on the far left, or Oshiagé/SKYTREE, its eastern terminus, shown on the far right. The Mitsukoshimae stop (Z09) is in Nihombashii just to the north + stops in the basement of the Mitsukoshi Depato (department store), which is well worth a look.

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Metro Hanzomon Line’s Suitengumae entrance on Etai-Dori Ave. The Royal Park Hotel bike parking lot described below is in the upper right corner.

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Metro Hanzomon Line’s Suitengumae platform.

Bike Access to T-CAT

If you are on bike you can park your bike for up to 24 hrs. at the very nice Royal Park Hotel Nihonbashii just down the street for a few ¥. The lockers are outside on the east side, but the place is very safe + the hotel staff will even be willing to help you if you’re not staying there since it’s their bike park. You can lock your bike, jump a bus, or train, go where you need + return later for your bike. The hotel is at 35°40’54.88″ N 139°47’13.24″ E (2-1-1 Nihonbashi-Kakigara-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo). This here map shows roughly the relationship between all 3 places:

Suitengumae Station is the leftmost pin, Royal Park Hotel the center one, First Cabin Suitengumae the right one. T-CAT is in the station. Sumida River is just to the right. To the east (right) of this is Asakusa, and a little further east, Sky Tree. There is also another Royal Park Hotel in Shiodome.

Suitengumae Area Photo Enjoyment

Here are a few more photos from the area for your enjoyment + reference:

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2 more views of T-CAT @ Suitengumae Station.

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Walking from Suitengumae Sta. to Tokyo Sta.

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There is also another public outdoor bike locker on this route.

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Be careful with Otemachi Sta. – it’s easy to get sucked into its labyrinth shopping malls + corridors which go on for miles inside + underground.

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First Cabin Suitengumae is on the left tucked down this quiet residential side street. The main street, Etai-Dori is just to the right out of frame. Turn right on Etai-Dori and head a few blocks west to get to T-CAT.

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First Cabin Suitengumae has a nice Lawson conbini just up the street. Step outside and turn right and you’ll be facing the street that takes you to T-CAT . There’s also a postal drop box here.

Welcome, dear traveler, to First Cabin‘s futuristic sleeping pods:

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First Cabin Suitengumae‘s facilities are quite nice:

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If you walk just a bit east on Etai-Dori Ave you cross Etai Bridge over the Sumida River, from which you can gaze at this famous view of Toyko known as Ookawabata River City:

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Etai Bridge is roughly at 35°40’33.40″ N 139°47’17.99″ E and you can walk or ride a bike across it. You can enter Ookawabata River City by crossing the Chuo-ohashi Bridge shown on the right in the distance. But to do that, you must first cross an intermediate bridge on the Nihonbashi River @ roughly 35°40’45.91″ N 139°47’02.25″ E first to get to it.

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Nihonbashi is just to the northeast of Otemachi Sta. + features the excellent Coredo multi-use complex.

Well, that’s it for now. Enjoy your trip to Narita International + Narita City!

Links

https://www.narita-airport.jp/en/

Narita City Official

The Keisei Skyliner for Narita Airport

Take the Keisei Line from Narita

Narita Travel Guide @ japan-guide.com

Narita @ WikiTravel

Narita Day Trip Itinerary @ Truly Tokyo

Narita City – A stopover to discover traditional Japan @ Kanpai!

Things to do in Narita @ Trip Advisor

Find the Cheapest Transport from Narita Airport to Tokyo @ Tokyo Cheapo

T-CAT

Tokyo Sta. -> Suitengumae Sta. Walking Route Map

Royal Park Hotel (agoda.com)

Royal Park Hotel

Royal Park Shiodomé

Coredo @ Nihonbashi

https://www.agoda.com/narita-view-hotel/hotel/tokyo-jp.html?checkin=2020-05-01&los=3&adults=1&rooms=1&cid=1720055&searchrequestid=f7e751a1-1f69-4eeb-9f65-7fcba116e2f8&travellerType=0&tspTypes=8,16

VIDS