I cannot say it enough, Japan is an awesome country and I have returned from my recent trip with various stories to tell but my favourite (and most told so far) is how I lost something valuable and within 15 minutes of discovering it was missing I had it returned to me. That valuable “thing” was my 21 days Japan rail pass – valued at almost 60,000 yen but even more valuable because it was an important component of my Japan travel plans and without it my trip was over, just days after it began.
Let the Nara adventures begin
The story begins 4 days into my Japan trip, high off my first trip on the Bullet train from Shinagawa to Nagoya to meet up with my Japanese friend Machaco and then onwards to Kyoto. I checked into my hotel, boarded a train from Kyoto with my Japanese friend and arrived in Nara with plans to see as much as we could in half a day. The first and most important stop for the day was TÅdai-ji a Buddhist temple complex with attractions such as the largest wooden building in the world and a massive bronze statue of Buddha. So there I was, a gleamy eyed Japan enthusiast, tourist and photographer absorbing the sights, smells and sounds. Reading about the temple, Buddhism and standing in front of the massive statues I felt like I was transported back in time and started to understand why and how someone could have a religious experience at this temple.
…something is missing!
So after filling my eyes with the sights, memory cards with photos and videos and my bags with memorabilia me and my Japanese friend started to make our way out of the temple and I was thinking to myself that now that I was tired it was much harder getting out of the temple complex than getting in. I waved gooodbye to the giant Buddha and went on my way. A few yards out of the main building I checked my pockets as I do from time to time to ensure I had all the essentials – cellphone? check, WiFi router? Check, cash? check, railpass?….hmmm maybe I have it another pocket, no? hmm let me check my bag, no? My knees started to buckle as the voice of the JR staff member replayed in my mind as she warned me repeatedly not to misplace my rail pass as there was no way to get another or recover it. My Japanese friend saw the “WTF” look on my face as I signalled her to head towards a sitting area and I proceeded to tell her I can’t find my railpass while ripping through every compartment of my shoulder bag and then checking my pockets for a second, then third time. In the space of 5 minutes I was nervous, angry, then scared out of my mind. Time seemed to slow down, my heart started to race and my senses became amplified as I thought my Japan adventures were over.
Buddha spoke to me from the heavens
My friend reached out to comfort me as I put my head in my lap ready to explode and that was when it happened. From the heavens in Japanese I heard my name with the “sama” prefix added, then “Jamaica-jin”, then “JR Railpass” with a whole lot of Japanese I couldn’t understand mixed inbetween. I looked up to the heavens and said – “Buddha-sama is that you?” My Japanese friend’s face started to glow as she translated to me, my Japanese railpass was found and we frantically shot off in the direction of one of the information desk to recover it while I kept looking all around to find any sign of a PA system at the temple and wondered why I didn’t hear any other announcements until now?
Reunification with “my precious” Rail pass
While on the way there we were going back against the crowds and of course everyone was looking at the only black guy at the temple, me. I felt numb as hundreds of pairs of eyes were locked unto me, I was unsure f what they were thinking but my brain overheated from the emotional overdose earlier and was only capable of following the blue T-shirt my Japanese friend was wearing. As if hearing my rail pass was found wasn’t a miracle enough on my way to pick it up we stopped at a stall to inquire which information desk we could go to get the pass and there in the line at the stall was the young man who found the pass, trying his best to tell me in English where he found it and where to go. I thanked him, shook his hand and thanked him again as the eyes continued to beam in from all directions. I recovered the pass fired off even more thanks yous and had a smeagol moment as I held “my precious” JR Pass in my hand.
Jamaipanese the Nara celebrity
For the rest of the day everywhere I went in Nara it seemed there was someone who heard the announcement at Todaiji as everyone kept looking, some pointed and others even spoke to me saying they heard what happened and that they were happy I had recovered my railpass. There ends my “Lost and Found in Japan – Buddha Edition” story, a story I will tell to any and everyone – I can already imagine my grandkids trying to escape when I say for the millionth time “Have I told you kids about the time I visited Japan and…..”