It was nice to see Narita by daylight as arriving anywhere at night makes things a bit mysterious. The vibe of the city seemed quite relaxed, it's quite hard to believe that over 35 million people pass through an airport just a few miles away. Looking out from the window we had our first glimpse of the colors of the season. Something we don't get here in San Diego. Since our shuttle back to the airport wasn't until 940 and it was only 6am, we decided to do a bit of exploring and find something to eat.
Things seemed quite calm as we walked through the JR Narita Station, which is nearly right next to the privately operated Keisei Narita Station next door. We could make out some of the streets that we thought were so confusing the previous night. There were quite a few small temples tucked along the side streets.
We decided to visit what is probably the most popular site in this part of Narita; Naritasan Shinshoji Temple which is easily found by following the signs. The street heading to the temple, Omotesando, is lined with shops and restaurants, which were all closed at this time of the morning.
The street were very quiet except for schoolkids headed off to class. One particularly feisty little girl marched off quickly in front of us. Everytime we'd speed up, so would she, when we started catching up, she broke into a full on sprint....she refused to let us pass her! It seems we had become part of the morning entertainment.
The temple grounds were quite a bit larger than we anticipated. There's was a good amount to see. Sorry to say, my photos of the Main Hall were among those that were corrupted and unrecoverable form one of the SD cards. Still, there were quite a few distinct structures like the Three Story Pagoda.
For me, the most interesting structure was the Shakado Hall, which looked both grand and imposing at the same time. This was temple's main hall until the 1960's when the larger main hall was built.
Workers were taking down plants and flowers from an autumn flower show which had concluded the previous day.
There's also a large park. The cloudiness in the photo below is not an artifact, but the mist coming off the spruce as the environment warmed up.
We climbed up the stairs next to the Shakado Hall and were greeted by folks as they walked down past us.
The Missus read a sign that basically said, "shortcut to JR East Station", so we followed the trail. And wouldn't you know, we somehow quickly ended up quite close to the station.
We circled around a bit, then ended back at Keisei Narita Station, and noticed a 24 Hour Ramen place. This seemed to fit the bill of the Missus wanting "as much ramen and yakitori" as we could possibly find on this trip.
There was one person manning the shop and one customer in attendance. The typical ramen ticket machine in the corner. The Missus couldn't make out some words and the proprietor (his photo was on the posters adorning the walls) was nice enough to point to different photos on the walls so we could correlate them to choices on the machine.
The Missus read some of the signs and said this place serves "backfat" ramen.......that would be "seabura" ramen. So what the heck, I went whole hog (no pun intended) and ordered the large bowl.
When my bowl arrived, I could see what looked like rice porridge on top of the ramen. It quickly became clear that these were silky little minced pieces of fat. Some of which melted away, some not. It added quite a bit of richness to the broth, which, in spite off all this fat, never became greasy. It added a different dimension to what was pretty much a ubiquitous bowl of ramen. The tonkotsu broth (minus the rendered pork fat) was fairly light and on the salty side. The noodles were done adequately...the Missus said the boiled eggs were decently flavored, though a bit on the over-cooked side for Her taste. There was a huge amount of beansprouts, I enjoyed the textural contrast it added to the ramen. The broth wasn't quite hot enough for us, which would have ended up in an even richer bowl of ramen in my mind.
While not an excellent bowl, this was still good enough for us. Would be in the top 2 in San Diego......is San Diego ready for backfat ramen?
814-5 Hanazakicho (Next to Keisei Narita Station)
Plus it sure beat out McDonalds at Narita Airport.
Which had the longest line! Sheesh. Well, at least the portion sizes looked a bit smaller......
Belly full of ramen......we were ready for Seoul!
Thanks for reading!