Japan’s Tiny Travel Tales: Arigato (Thank you) Japan

5th Oct 2017
Photo of Tokyo, Japan by Amritha

If you spend a week in Japan, there is one Japanese word, I bet, you would surely learn- Aritgato which means thank you. Be ready to hear it, and be ready to feel the need to use it again and again. Here is my way of saying arigato to the lovely country called Japan, to all the lovely people whom I met and the lovely experiences the land of the rising sun sent towards me. Arigato Japan.

Arigato to the yen-saver

On my third day in Japan, which was spent in beautiful nikko, I stayed at this cozy hostel called Nikko House Sumaica. After a tiring and memorable day of sightseeing and fun, I was busy tiding my backpack sitting in the common area of the hostel. Once, I had rounded up all that needs to go in the bin, the hostel lady stopped me. She had spotted the two-day tourist Nikko pass I was about to throw in the bin. I did not realize it was a two-day pass, also I was to leave Nikko the next morning, so I decided to throw it. “Trade it with some tourist morning for half rate,” she says with a smile. I smile back and tell her, maybe she can keep it and give to some tourist at her hostel, I suggest. To be sure, so far I was offering it without any expectation of getting money for it. She then looks at her employee, a sweet 21 year old, with bright eyes, the kind of eyes filled with dreams that people have at that age. She asks me to give it to her, as the young girl plans to go for a day tour tomorrow. To be sure again, I am still happy and the idea of getting money in return for it has not even crossed my mind. The hostel lady, then herself decides the young girl can buy it from me for 500 yen. The young girl is more than happy to receive the 2500 yen pass for a discounted rate and hands me a 500 yen coin and I swear I am still looking at the girl and the hostel lady to figure out what happened.

Arigato “Mt fuji” ladies

It is my guess, by now you have understood I do not know names for the good people I met in Japan. So the two protagonists of my next travel tale have been named as “ Mt Fuji” ladies. This happened at Kawaguchiko, one of the five lake areas surrounding Mt Fuji. It was my last day there and I had to take the 9.30 bus form the Kawguchiko station for my next travel destination, for which I paid 4000 yen, just to ensure you understand the stakes are high. I assume there is a 9 am tourist bus from the stop closer to the hostel I was staying at will take me well before time to Kawaguchiko station so I can board the 9.30 long distance bus.I wait at the bus stop and to re-confirm, I ask these two ladies, who seem to work with waste disposal team there, if I was standing at the right bus stop. After a detailed 2 minute study of the bus stop they confirm it is the right stop. Now yours truly, has a bad habit. I cannot stand at one place. So I start strolling within the 10 metres range, waiting for the bus to arrive, it was 8.55 am that time. After a few minutes, I still see the two ladies reading the map. Now curious, I come closer to them and they call out. They politely explain to me that the next bus will arrive only at 9.50. Let me add, I did not tell them I was expecting the bus at 9, but they seem to have used common sense to understand that someone will not be waiting for a bus 50 minutes earlier and there is something amiss. With that, starts my fastest walk to the station with a huge backpack, which is a 20-25 minute walk. Thanks to the Mt Fuji ladies, or I would have never reached my destination on time.

Arigato to the“ location finder”

Nikko truly is a magical place, because the next tale is also from this land of eternal beauty. I was handed a chit with the name of a vegan café in Nikko written in English. I walk up and down the lane twice, but unable to spot any shop with that name. I then spot a local unloading a dispatch truck, I show him the chit, hoping he would know the place. Hard luck, he did not. Good luck, he is a Japanese. Unlike what most of us would do, he did not send me away with a simply sorry. He first searched for the place on google map, figured it’s a two minute walk on the same lane I was and then took the chit from me and wrote the English word in Japanese characters, so that I can match it and identify the shop’s name board. All this took a good five-seven minutes, but that man was more than happy to help. And did I add, he did not know English, I did not understand Japanese. All you need to help someone, is intention I guess. I walk the lane for two minutes, now matching the board names with the chit in my hand and in a matter of time, I found what I was looking for, and realized the place did not have an English board at all. Thanks to the truck guy or I would have never found this place.

Arigato Japan

While I was planning my Japan trip, most travel blogs spoke about how people in Japan would go out of their way, walk an extra mile literally and make sure you find your way. Little did I know, I will actually experience it- not once but multiple times. One fine day in Tokyo, I was confused and unable to find which is the right platform to take for my desired destination. I walk up to this young lady, ask her for ‘ directions’ not accompany me. The young lady was standing in a queue to board the next metro train, expected in a few minutes. She insisted to come show me the platform as it is a little confusing. So here I had someone, quit the line during peak hours, walk up an escalator and show me the platform to ensure I reached my destination. This happens to you very often in Japan, where commuters will help you find your way even if they too don’t know it. They will walk a few more steps, find the map at the station and study the various metro lines and then help you out find the place.

While I started to write Japan’s tiny travel tales, I was hoping to fit all in one blog. But Japan has better plans. “Arigato Japan” is the second part, of Japan’s tiny travel tales, there may be a final third part soon. Japan’s tiny travel tales-airgato Japan is the eighth blog of my new travel series on Japan- documenting the food, people, nature, beauty and culture in the land of the rising sun.

Disclaimer: I often hear how people are inspired by various travel blogs and wish to pack their bags and go travel. If any of my blogs does the same to you, I request you to read up on what I think about travel and how to afford it responsibly, here is the link https://tinyurl.com/yd5aa62y