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The Best Layover Ever: Part 2

Next was the shower, as I had no idea how long it had been since my last one back in another country, somewhere else (attractive!).  I was given a toothbrush and a little shower pod with a sink and toilet and I think that shower cleansed my soul it felt so good.  I hustled back to the lounge to book a taxi tour in order to get out of the sterile airport.  They had longer ones that went to sake breweries, but I only had time to do the 3-hour temple and mall tour.  I had some extra time so I took the 15 100-yen vouchers they gave me and went in search of the best sushi in the airport.  I was able to effectively order salmon, tuna, crab and sea urchin.  The sea urchin was my risky piece to try, it looked like poop and it didn’t taste very good.  Yay for taking risks though!

It turned out my taxi driver didn’t speak any English, but he knew where I needed to go.  First he took me to the Narita temple, a Buddhist temple with beautiful colorful buildings.  They gave me my own English-speaking guide who took me around and gave me the history of all the buildings,

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A building in the Narita temple complex

as we walked about the blustery grounds.  She was like the little old Japanese grandma I never had, as she educated me about Japanese Buddhist and Shinto religions.

Next my silent taxi man took me to the very large Aeon shopping mall.  I would rather have done something cultural, but it was the only thing I had time for.  I walked around the mall, which was more or less just like its American counterpart.  There was a huge arcade with photobooths which made your eyes Anime-like, a drums game like Dance Dance Revolution, and lots of lights and tiny characters with large eyes everywhere.  I basically just walked around and had a look before I was whisked back to the airport, which I should get used to since that will be my life as a flight attendant soon.

I collected my belongings, said goodbye to the lounge ladies and started my trek to the gate.  I thought I was going to be bored and uncomfortable during my all-day layover in Japan, but I was pleasantly surprised when I boarded my place to LA relaxed and slightly more cultured.  Thank you, Japan for taking in a weary traveler and showing me hospitality and another little slice of the world!

An arcade - Japanese style

An arcade – Japanese style

The Best Layover Ever: Part 1

Traveling back to California from Thailand, I found myself with an 8-hour layover at the Narita airport just outside Tokyo, Japan.  From what I read online before my trip, this was enough time to get myself into the city to spend a couple of hours losing myself in the chaos that is Tokyo.  I unfortunately was hit with some pretty bad food poisoning in Thailand right before leaving, however, so the last thing I wanted to do was expend loads of energy to travel into a crowded city in an unfamiliar country.

As I walked down the concourse toward wherever the Japanese signs were directing me to go, I came across an ultra-neo-technical electronic talking sign of a flight attendant that creepily told me that the airport was beta testing a new program for transit (layover) passengers with layovers over 3 hours.  That was me!  I talked to the first person I saw holding another transit sign, and they led the way.  I had to go through immigration (getting another Japanese stamp in my passport, yay!) and met a transit person on the other 20131213_121024side.  She was very sweet, but hard to understand because of her accent, bless her.  She led me to the lounge, with padded chairs and lots of drinks and weird little Japanese snacks to munch on.

I was already feeling more relaxed than I had planned when I was handed a menu of free things I could do during my layover: a massage, free food, an airport shower, a visit to a hotel sauna, a taxi tour of Narita and a couple other things which weren’t interesting enough to remember.  I decided to start with the massage, after food poisoning and a 6-hour flight.  It was fabulous and much more relaxing than a horrendous Thai massage!  Plus, they gave me hibiscus tea afterward.  To be continued…