Life of a Traveling Girl – Layover in Tokyo

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I thought it would be fun to add some stories from some of the other wonderful female engineers that I work with to the “Shipyard Stories”. This way, you can see what it’s like living and working in a shipyard but also how other sassy women engineers are enjoying their careers. I have found that the other engineers I have gotten to know are truly remarkable – smart, funny, clever, and tons of fun! We all have a bit of an abnormal lifestyle because our work takes us to all corners of the globe, often with little notice, and for varying amounts of time. One thing that I have found is that we are the type to take advantage of every opportunity to try something new. Let me introduce one of my best friends, Kim, to you. She and I have been working at the same company together for 4 years. When I lived in Houston, we had lunch together every day and we became really great friends. We have a lot of the same hobbies – we love to cook, run/bike, and craft – we also both share a love for travel! In fact, she’s the friend that I met up with in Tokyo for  a weekend full of fun and adventure…and of course, food!  Without further adieu, here’s Kim… 

Like Erin, my work takes me around the world, and for the last 6 months or so I have been splitting my time between Houston and Jakarta, Indonesia.  The tricky thing about Jakarta is that there are no direct flights from  Houston, and most options involve either 2 short layovers or 1 long layover.  For my most recent return trip to Houston, I opted to try the 9-hour layover in Tokyo – despite the long gap between 2 flights, it actually arrives home sooner than the 2-stop options so I thought, what the heck?  Why not have a fun morning in Tokyo? A number of people suggested that I stay in the airport, rent a dayroom, and do some shopping…but flying as much as I do, I see enough of airports.  My inner wanderer wanted to get out!

 My flight from Jakarta arrived in Tokyo at 6:45am, and I was on a train into town by 7:30.  I opted to take the Keisei Limted Express. It’s not as fast as the Skyliner Train, but it’s half the price and it stops right at Oshiage aka the Tokyo Skytree, my primary destination.  Oshiage is Tokyo’s tallest broadcasting tower, and was completed in 2012. Skytree has 2 observation areas, the primary observation deck consisting of 3 floors including a restaurant, cafe, gift shop, and glass floor, as well as an upper observation deck.  It was unfortunately cloudy the day that I went, so the upper observation deck didn’t have much to offer, but it was still pretty cool.  One of my favorite things about Japan is the juxtaposition of beautiful, minimalist artistic details against cute cartoony mascots.

Tokyo1

After spending some time in the Skytree Tower, I walked around for a bit at the Skytree Town Square.  The East Tower next to Skytree is a large office building, so the Town Square has quite a bit of retail shopping and restaurant options.  I, however, had other plans for eating so I opted for a small chocolate drink and was on may way back to the metro.

I had 2 options for sushi – either Sushi Dai as the Tsukiji Fish Market or Kyubei at Hotel Okura.  Because this was my first long layover, and I wasn’t sure about my timing for the fish market, I chose Kyubei.  In class project management fashion, I wanted some execution certainty; I knew Kyubei would be excellent, and I knew I could get back to the airport within 90 minues of leaving Hotel Okura.  I was not disappointed!  I ordered the Sushi Omakase, which is a 12-piece chef’s choice menu.  I’m sorry, Erin, I didn’t take a picture of every piece of sushi because I was too busy savoring every bite and watching the chefs prepare lunch for me and the other diners!  It was amazing!

Tokyo2

With a happy belly, I decided to splurge a little bit, spending the cash I’d saved by taking the Limited Access train instead of the Skyliner on a Taxi to Tokyo Metro Train station.  I had a geeky engineering moment when the announcer at the train station said that 2 of the Narita Express Trains (N’EX) were going to combine into 1 long train – unfortunately, my assigned car was the furthest one away from the connection point, so I didn’t get to watch it!!  I did however, take a photo of the connection mechanism on the front of the second train as it came into the station to hook up with the first train.

I arrived at the airport 2 hours before my 4pm flight to Houston, which was just enough time to get through security, take a quick shower in the lounge, and pick up a few knick-knacks for friends and family before heading home.  I can’t wait to layover in Tokyo again, I’m already thinking about what things I’d like to see in a second day trip!

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