Hello Everyone! Today I have a story from a my 2005 trip to Japan. I know, I know it was a loooooooong time ago. But in keeping with the theme of posts about Japan, I thought I’d share a couple of quick stories. I was hoping to be able to travel there this year, but I’m not too confident about any international trips this year. Anyhow, let’s begin…
In the summer of 2005, I was a high school senior on a study-abroad trip to Tokyo. We were given the afternoon off and I decided to take the most of it by exploring the city. Taking the train from Yayoi Olympic Stadium Youth Hostel into Shinjuku we thought would be a breeze to get around. Little did we know, Shinjuku is one of the busiest and largest train stations in the world.
I was traveling with a friend of mine who was just as confident in their Japanese language skills as myself. We thought we wouldn’t have any problems exploring the area and ultimately finding the department store, Tokyo Hands. Somehow we managed to get to the train station just find, but but then the problem was finding the exit.
Between the two of us, we had no idea what the word for exit was. We couldn’t remember the characters for it either. I think we must have spent about an hour walking around just looking lost before a kind police officer tested his English on us. If you ask for help in Japan you will normally receive it. We were almost too shy to accept the help.
Through miming, we eventually were able to convey that we needed to find the exit. He laughed and pointed us in the right direction. From this moment onward, I learned that whenever I travel, it’s best if we know the word for entrance, exit and a couple of other basic words. I will never forget the word deguchi.
On my last trip in 2009, I made another mistake by only carrying a debit and credit card with me when I wanted to explore the Kyoto Kiyomizudera temple district. I learned the hard way that many vendors do not accept foreign cards and only accept cash. Japan is one of those countries that is a cash based economy.
It is quite normal to carry around large bills such as a 10000 yen note. The majority of small shops in Japan have no problem breaking the larger bills. If you are looking to travel to Japan, make sure you take a coin purse. As in Europe, there is no way to avoid using them. I amassed my own heavy set last time.
I hope you enjoyed these two short stories and faux-pas I made. I’m always happy to share my mistakes and learn from them. I’m fairly certain I shared my experience about getting lost in Salzburg, Austria last year. It might be worth a read under the tag Mistake Monday if you enjoy posts like this one.
I hope you are all staying safe out there! Until next time, happy travels.