Narita’s name is familiar to millions of travelers who pass through Narita Airport every year. Most visitors to Japan make a bee line to Tokyo from here, but there is so much to see and do - the grand Shinshoji Temple, the antique Narita Omotesando street, and traditional festivals such as New Years celebrations and Gion Matsuri in summer. Besides these treasures, Narita also has great view spots for appreciating modern aircraft. Close to the city center is Sakura no Yama Park, a popular place for plane spotting.
Sakura no Yama, or Cherry Mountain, is on a rise at the north end of the 4000 meter main runway. Facing the runway is a wide lookout spot with benches. Here, you can see the main terminal, watch the planes taxi, and take off and land, and feel the roar of the jet engines as the planes soar over you. Depending on the winds, the planes will approach over your shoulder as you are facing the terminal, or fill your field of view as they take off right in front of the lookout. Plane spotters are close enough to easily identify the airlines’ insignia and to see the landing gear in action.
The park is especially popular in March and April during cherry blossom season. About 300 cherry trees including delicate yoshino, double-blossomed hill cherry, and trailing shidare cherry, dot the park and ring the lookout.
If you don’t bring your own picnic, there are produce vendors and cafe in the park. For visitors who take road trips in Japan, Michi no Eki, road stations may be familiar. These are rest stops on major roads where travelers stretch their legs and pick up gifts and snacks. But this one, directly on the flight path, is labeled Sora no Eki, Sky Station. A visit to Sakura no Yama Park isn’t complete without a photo of a plane over the roof of this building with a quirky name.
Take a taxi from Narita Station. The ride is about 15 minutes.
Take the bus from the east exit of Narita Station. The ride is between 20 and 30 minutes.
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You will see many of my stories on Japan Travel are about places and events outside of big city centers and tourist destinations. While I highly recommend the big name sights and experiences, I encourage visitors to see and feel the atmosphere off the beaten path, too.