The number one reason for Tsukuba residents to go to Narita is to get on or off a plane or to take or pick up someone else who is. There are, however, a number of very interesting places to visit in the area. The number one tourist attraction in Narita is its famous temple (unless one considers the airport a "tourist attraction"!). As you approach the airport on Highway 408 (just after the road turns to the left and becomes 4-lane), you can see the big red, 5-tier pagoda on the hill to the right. The best way to approach it is to turn right on the first street past the railroad underpass (just after 408 becomes 4-lane). The temple grounds are on the left about 1 km down this road. If you really want to experience crowds and revelry, wait until New Year's Day. It is, however, an interesting place to visit any time.
Two other interesting attractions are close by that fit nicely into this issue's theme of parks and museums. The National Museum of Japanese History is the place to go if you are interested in the historical development of Japan. It has numerous exhibits, including many faithful miniature reproductions of various ancient buildings and towns (such as that pictured below). Like most such places, it is generally closed on Mondays, except when that is a holiday, in which case it is closed on Tuesdays. It is open from 9:30 to 4:30 pm, with general admission being only ¥400. The National Museum of Japanese History is located in the city of Sakura (not "cherry blossom"), which is about 15 km southwest of Narita.
To get there by car from Tsukuba, take route 408 like you were going to the airport. Once you cross over the Tone River into Chiba, there is a direct (relatively speaking) route that you can try if you have a good map and are used to such things. Otherwise, we recommend the somewhat longer route through Narita. About 2 km after 408 turns to the left and becomes 4 lanes, turn right onto Route 51. After about 11 km, you'll come to Route 296, where you turn right again and proceed about 5 km (including a couple of "jogs" to the right). The museum and park are on the left.
The other attraction is "Boso no Mura", a recreation of an old Japanese village with various traditional crafts to observe and try your hand at. It is located a few km to the right of Route 408 after you've gone across the Tone River Bridge. If you want to be adventurous and take a short-cut across farm and field, you can try following any of the numerous windy roads off to the right until you come to a main road (about 6 km from the bridge in approximately the same direction as the bridge). Who knows what interesting sites you might run across, and you can't get really lost (or can you?). Of course, when you do come out at the main road, you may have trouble figuring out which way to turn. The safe way, of course, is to follow 408 until the intersection where it turns left to go on to the airport. At that point, you turn right instead and follow that road up for about 6 km. Boso no Mura, along with several botanical gardens and other such facilities, are located in an elongated park.
The International Women's Network (IWN) is a group of women who enjoy chatting with people from all over the world. We hold a monthly potluck dinner where we exchange information about the local community while eating a variety of foods. No reservation is needed to attend the potluck. Just bring one dish of food and show up at the meeting. Newcomers are always welcome! Take advantage of this unique opportunity to enjoy the international city of Tsukuba with us!
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