18 Hours Layover in Tokyo, Japan

Hotel Nikko Narita breakfastOn my way back home from Pittsburgh to Taipei, my flight from Denver to Tokyo was delayed for two and a half hours. United Airlines customer service in Denver told me that the plane from Tokyo to Taipei might wait for me and  the other 10 people that were on the same boat as I was. As soon as I landed in Tokyo, I rushed to the temporary desk that United/ANA set up and gave the staff my boarding pass, hoping miraculously the plane waited around. When the nice Japanese customer service lady came back with a huge deck of documents instead of one single boarding pass, I knew I was going to stay overnight in Japan.

這次回家,從美國丹佛飛日本東京的班機誤點兩個半小時,聯合航空在丹佛的地勤說飛機可能會為了十一個人等一下。一降落東京,馬上衝到聯合和全日空的臨時櫃台,好不容易抓到一個有空的客服,把我的名字和班機號碼交給她,幻想東京飛台北這班飛機可能奇蹟出現真的蹲著等,結果客服回來拿著一整疊文件而不是一張薄薄登機證,一看到就知道我得要在東京過夜了。

Near Denver. 靠近美國丹佛上空

Near Denver. 靠近美國丹佛上空

I starred for a second at this hologram of a Narita customer service woman extending whatever nice and polite welcome message that I did not understand, and walked toward “domestic/arrival” instead of the international connection security check point.

But really, come to think of it, it was really not bad at all. I was stuck, but I was in Tokyo. It could have been worse. Everything from food voucher to airport shuttle was nicely arranged. After figuring out which forms I needed to fill out for arrival, I got a entry stamp of Japan in my passport!

我看著這個虛擬成田日本小妞發呆一秒鐘,然後經過國際轉乘的安檢站入口,往”domestic/arrival”走。平白少一天在台灣很衰,但至少被困在半路是卡在東京不是別的地方,成田的客服把一切都安排得很好。本來要從成田飛桃園機場,現在改成從羽田飛松山機場,我的登機證上面的抵達機場字太長沒印完,客服還特地在登機證上用漢字寫了「松山」,真的很貼心。搞清楚進日本到底要填哪些文件之後,意外的賺到一個日本入境貼紙在我的護照上!

Narita welcome

By the time I checked in at Hotel Nikko Narita it was after 7 p.m. It was such a relief to finally get a hold of my family who were going to pick me up. Now I could wash up, get changed, and start my little food adventure.

Traveling back home, I did not pack much toiletry. I though, great, what am I gonna use to wash my face? And then the awesomeness of staying overnight in Japan sunk in. In the room I’ve got Shiseido foaming face wash, green tea fabric and room refreshener, and the Narita standard toilet! I was all set!

等到一切手續辦完進旅館房間都已經晚上七點多 (Hotel Nikko Narita),終於有網路可以打電話回家,報告完也就鬆了一口氣,這才得以換洗然後開始旅館探險!

因為是回家,沒帶什麼沐浴乳洗面乳,想說這下完了,是要用什麼洗臉!? 環顧四周這才發現在日本的好:有綠茶空氣和衣服除臭劑、資生堂泡沫式洗面乳、成田機場等級的馬桶,一切都不用擔心了!

Hotel Nikko NaritaHotel Nikko Narita

The dinner voucher could be used in the ground floor buffet or a Chinese restaurant upstairs. Of course I picked the buffet with Japanese food. My server was bilingual in Japanese and Mandarin. Knowing I do no understand Japanese, he was nice enough to come over and translate the restaurant reminder announcement about the end of buffet hours.

晚餐餐卷可以用在一樓的自助餐廳或者樓上的中國餐館,當然是要選有日本料理的自助餐。我的服務生會講中文,知道我不會講日文,在餐廳廣播完用餐時間快要結束的時候,還特地跑來問我有沒有聽懂,提醒我趕快去拿最後一輪。

If you have been living in Northeast Asia or any metropolitans with good Japanese food selection such as LA, New York or Toronto, the food at Hotel Nikko Narita was mediocre at best. But if you are like me, living in a city where Asia food options are very limited, a layover here would be amazing! Especially the breakfast!

如果是從台灣日本等地過來住,或者從洛杉磯、紐約、多倫多這種亞洲料理發達的城市來,Hotel Nikko Narita的自助餐真的還好而已,但對我這種美國鄉下人來說,看到眼睛都亮了!特別是早餐。

Tempura was cold and a tad greasy. But still I was happy about having tempura for dinner on my travels. 天婦羅賣相很好但其實涼掉又收油收得不好

Tempura was cold and a tad greasy. But still I was happy about having tempura for dinner on my travels. 天婦羅賣相很好但其實涼掉又收油收得不好

The Japanese curry was very good! 整盤其實只有咖哩好吃,但從美國鄉下來,看到各種可樂餅跟蒸籠裡的東西還是很感人

The Japanese curry was very good! 整盤其實只有咖哩好吃,但從美國鄉下來,看到各種可樂餅跟蒸籠裡的東西還是很感人

If you are not a big fan of Japanese food, they do have steak and other options available.

If you are not a big fan of Japanese food, they do have steak and other options available.

You have no idea how happy I was to end my dinner buffet with a small bowl of sweet red bean soup with sticky rice balls (白玉紅豆).

You have no idea how happy I was to end my dinner buffet with a small bowl of sweet red bean soup with sticky rice balls (白玉紅豆).

I had to take a picture of this drink bar. Flavored tea with CoQ10 and collagen. Seriously. 晚餐的飲料吧有膠原蛋白跟Q10...

I had to take a picture of this drink bar. Flavored tea with CoQ10 and collagen. Seriously. 晚餐的飲料吧有膠原蛋白跟Q10…

The only time I had traveled in Japan prior to this layover was in 2005. I love checking out local grocery stores or markets when I travel. Probably nowhere else I’ve ever been to provided more fun than Japan in this regard. I can spend so much time in convenient stores, drug stores and supermarkets here. The Japanese have managed to design the weirdest and most unimaginable products possible to make your life easier. The packaging and taste of dessert and snack are simply amazing.

我上一次也是唯一一次去日本是2005年的時候,去東京和東京近郊,超愛逛便利商店或藥妝店,畢竟日本人生活小物真的無奇不有。逛日本便利商店真的什麼都想吃吃看….

Hotel Nikko Narita

The popular snack fries. The other popular brand is Potato Farm. Try it next time you see them. I would recommend the butter flavor (on the right) if you are buying this brand.

The popular snack fries. The other popular brand is Potato Farm. Try it next time you see them. I would recommend the butter flavor (on the right) if you are buying this brand. The green one is original/salt.

The vending machines on each floor next to the ice machine were full of beer. 每個樓層製冰機旁邊的販賣機幾乎都是啤酒

The vending machines on each floor next to the ice machine were full of beer. 每個樓層製冰機旁邊的販賣機幾乎都是啤酒

The breakfast at the lobby buffet really made my day. I had ochazuke for breakfast! Ochazuke is a Japanese dish made by pouring hot soup, dashi or green tea over rice that is topped with salted salmon, seaweed, scallions, wasabi, sesame seeds or Japanese pickles.

一樓自助餐的早餐讓我一早就滿懷期待開心起床,我早餐吃茶泡飯!!!!

 Hotel Nikko Narita ochazuke

In addition to ochazuke, I also had udon! 早餐除了茶泡飯還有烏龍麵!

In addition to ochazuke, I also had udon! 早餐除了茶泡飯還有烏龍麵!

Similar to ochazuke, there is a udon bar where you can pick your own topping and make your own.

Similar to ochazuke, there is a udon bar where you can pick your own topping and make your own.

Hotel Nikko Narita breakfast

And for breakfast, assorted vitamins… 早餐有維他命吧,除了維他命C還有葉酸跟左旋肉鹼…

Don’t freak out if you would never try udon or rice topped with salmon and wasabi in a soup for breakfast. They do have bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, yogurt, salad, and bread available.

除了日式餐點,當然還是有歐美選擇的早餐。

Hotel Nikko Narita breakfast

Hotel Nikko Narita breakfast yogurt

Hotel Nikko Narita breakfast yogurt

Instead of from Narita to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), the rescheduled flight went from Haneda (羽田) airport to Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA), which was much closer to home. That turned my dad’s 40-minute one way trip to 20 minutes. Hadeda airport was about one hour away from Narita. The hotel shuttle dropped us off at Haneda super early! Which was great news for me. More time for my airport shopping.

The toilets at Haneda were even fancier than those at Narita. They are equipped with dryers!

明明是12:45的飛機,接駁車九點就把我們送到機場,逛街時間非常充裕!發現羽田機場的馬桶比成田國際航廈的高檔,除了可以沖水還可以吹乾,長途跋涉的時候這種馬桶真是很貼心的設備。

Haneda toilet

Right after I found out I had to spend a night in Japan, as soon as I texted the family group of 13 in Line, the first message I got was “Buy some fries brothers (Jaga Pokkuru) for me!” Potato Farm Jaga Pokkuru is that other brand of snack fries. The more popular one. There is a limit of three boxes per person at Haneda. When I had my connection in Narita on the way back, these Potato Farm fries were completely out of stock in the entire terminal probably due to the blizzard.

Next time you see it, try it. Some of my friends in the U.S. love them. Aaron thought they taste good but his brain kept telling him that he was eating stale fries.

在成田機場發現我要被困在日本一個晚上,傳Line給全家的群組,馬上收到「幫我買薯條三兄弟」。羽田機場限量一人三盒,化妝品免稅區旁邊的攤位還把薯條三兄弟藏在桌子底下。回程在成田地毯式搜尋差不多整個航廈,大概是大風雪的關係,薯條三兄弟缺貨,半盒都沒看到。

Haneda potato farm

ANA economy class meal. 全日空經濟艙東京飛台北的午餐

ANA economy class meal. 全日空經濟艙東京飛台北的午餐

If those American airlines can make their in flight meals as pleasant and tasty as this, flying would be so much more fun.

If those American airlines can make their in flight meals as pleasant and tasty as this, flying would be so much more fun.

From door to door, it took me about 45 hours to go from Pittsburgh to Taipei. Too exhausting? If you ask my cousin who loves Japan and got three boxes of Japanese snack fries from me, she would tell you it was totally worth it.

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