We spend an afternoon in the park with the King of the Monsters at Kurihama’s Godzilla Slide

Every summer, as part of our effort to see as many brightly colored explosions as possible, my wife and I head to Kurihama in Kanagawa Prefecture to watch the neighborhood’s annual fireworks festival. In the past I always had to work on the day of the event, so we’d arrive just as they started launching the rockets, but this year I had the day off, so my wife suggested heading down early to do a little sightseeing. “We can go to Kurihama Flower World!” she offered, referring to the area’s expansive garden.

Sure, I thought, that might be kind of nice and romantic. I was a little surprised by her enthusiasm, though, since early July isn’t exactly the best time for flower viewing in Japan. It’s right in the gap between when hydrangeas and sunflowers are at their most beautiful, so what exactly did she want to check out there?

“We can see Godzilla,” she explained, which just might be the most convincing argument for going someplace ever.

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These beautiful temple gardens are…15 minutes from Narita Airport?!

For many visitors to Japan, their image of the city of Narita begins and ends with Narita International Airport. As such, most people plan their itineraries with the goal of spending as little time in the town as possible, unless they’re the type of odd sorts who just can’t get enough of waiting in airline check-in or customs lines.

In their rush to get into Tokyo or back home as soon as possible, though, they’re missing out on one of eastern Japan’s most visually impressive temples, Naritasan Shinshoji and its attached gardens.

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