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Flying into Narita International Airport, many travelers are surprised to learn they are almost 60 km outside of Tokyo and need to take an hour train ride to get into the city. Its location in rural Chiba Prefecture was chosen in the 1960s when the government realized the smaller Haneda airport could not keep up with the booming postwar air traffic in and out of Tokyo. Many locals protested the new airport that bulldozed over their formerly quiet lives and the bitter fight left the area with some very odd landmarks, such as a heavily secured and monitored shrine that sits almost directly in front of one of the runways.

Toho Shrine sits practically at the foot of Narita’s smaller B runway, which was completed in 2002 despite passionate opposition from the local community who feared even more noise and traffic from increased plane capacity. The airport had to build around the shrine when building the expansion, which led to the strange situation of the shrine sitting practically in the middle of the airport. Check out the map below to get a sense of the shrine’s unique position.

The only way to reach the shrine is to drive through a series of narrow roads with cameras and sensors mounted on the surrounding soulless white walls. Armed with a rental car and up for the challenge, we sent one of our brave RocketNews24 reporters to check out this infamous shrine. The shrine is too small for a parking lot, so he parked at a nearby convenience store and walked the rest of the way.

▼ Despite the bright sunny day, our reporter said he was creeped out by the eery feeling of being alone, but knowing his every move was being watched

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▼ A lone sign points the way to Toho Shrine

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Our reporter said that he didn’t see any traffic on the street while he was walking towards the shrine, but a dark blue police car passed him at one point and very blatantly slowed down to observe him. When he got to the final road leading up to the shrine, he got goosebumps and could feel the gaze of every security camera as he approached his destination.

▼ Turn here to enter either a human-sized rat maze or a heavily secured shrine

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▼ Nothing says “sacred” like a few cameras, some barbed wire and gaudy white fencing

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Although the tall fences blocked the view of the runway, the roar of jet engines became louder and louder as our reporter approached the shrine. And as he walked under the torii gate that welcomes visitors, he heard a voice nearby saying “Toho Shrine. Toho Shrine. One person is here.”

▼ Unlike other holy sites where deities whisper and share their wisdom, armed police officers seem to be the only authority present at Toho Shrine

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Our reporter looked around and noticed that a stern-looking security guard was behind one of the white walls. The guard didn’t ask questions, but watched quietly through the holes in the wall.

▼ Don’t mind the security guard behind the ominous white wall, just keep praying

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Not keen on being questioned by airport police, our reporter took a few pictures of the shrine and left in less than five minutes. Hanging around and taking pictures of an area so close to the runway of one of the world’s largest airports seemed like a great way to get on someone’s no-fly list.

▼ It seemed like a few people braved the uneasy feeling of being under surveillance and still came to this shrine to pray

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▼ Toho Shrine: Come for the prayers, stay for the indefinite detention when you’re accused of being a terrorist

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After the creepy visit to Toho Shrine, we don’t really recommend it unless you are really into getting goosebumps in the middle of the day and want to find out just how many civil rights you have under Japanese law. And anyway, there are much better options around Narita if you find yourself with a couple of hours to spare.

All Images: RocketNews24
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