Tuesday, June 13, 2017

An Unexpected Night in Tokyo

I hadn't planned to visit Tokyo this spring.  If so, I would have stayed a while and created some good blog entries (something to do later this year or next year).  But, I receive an unexpected few hours there and enjoy them.

I'm on United Flight 2, from Singapore to San Francisco, about ten hours into the 15 hour flight, somewhere in mid-Pacific between Hawaii and Alaska, when there is a medical emergency.  The closest hospital appears to be 1400 miles away in Tokyo and we turn around and head that way. Three hours later, we land in Tokyo in the evening at a deserted terminal (everybody else is long gone). United is very efficient about getting all 250 or so of us through Japan immigration and into hotels, letting us know that our flight will continue on the next afternoon.

 Beautiful gardens and restful areas in Singapore airport departure area
(before we leave for San Francisco, before the unexpected stop)

At the hotel, I quickly fall asleep, to awaken and wander the next morning.  I haven't been to Japan in a while (except to change planes) and it's great to see the Japanese gardens and culture up close again.

 Beautiful rock gardens outside hotel lobby

 Floral displays and quiet areas inside

After a morning of relaxation, it's a short shuttle bus ride back to the terminal to view the great collection of shops and restaurants in the public area.  It's like being in a Japanese city.

 Shopping mall inside airport

 Restaurants in the food court

 Artwork in the terminal

And, just outside the restaurants, an open deck area allows viewing of the planes and gates, with tables to dine while waiting and watching.  And, a section of massage chairs for relaxing inside.

Watch outside or relax inside

But, enough wandering, I get my boarding pass, go through security, and find the fabulous duty-free shopping area.  I usually browse through the food shops here for items that I can't get in the US and, today, pick up a tin of rice crackers, some seaweed wrapped.  I'll enjoy those tremendously when I get home.

 Incredible duty free shopping

Leaving the duty free shops for the gates, I stop in at the United Club for some appetizers and a Coke Zero.  Our flight (not planned to be in Japan) is leaving several hours prior to the normal, scheduled San Francisco flight and the club is not full, very quiet and relaxing.

 Hanging out in the United Club

With Coke Zero, wasabi peas, and rice crackers

Next to our gate is the last chance for sushi, attracting quite a line of people getting it to go, some electing to sit inside.

Last chance for sushi

I pass on the sushi, choosing airline fare, and we finally continue on our way to San Francisco, where I can open my beautifully-wrapped tine of rice crackers.  The Japanese tradition of wonderful wrapping enhances the joy of this acquisition.  The tin is in a cardboard sleeve, then wrapped in paper.  Each cracker is also individually wrapped.  Opening this all is a real treat.

 Treats and wrappings

As we board the plane, we find the same crew that brought us (and that aircraft) up from Singapore and they tell us that the passenger who fell ill had surgery in Tokyo the previous night and was recovering in the hospital.  We continue on our way home.

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