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Journals from Aoyama Gakuin University, Japan

2013-02-09 On the Kindness of Strangers

 I believe I’ve mentioned this before, but I am constantly surprised by how kindly strangers have treated me in Japan.  My first time trying to ride the train back to my dorm from school, a nice old man noticed that I was looking particularly lost and volunteered directions to get where I needed to go.  Similar things have happened since.

In my last post, I talked about my trip to Kyoto.  I missed my bus and some of my friends let me stay with them for the night.  However, they live in a city I had never been to before, and since I had taken a taxi to their house, I wasn’t sure how to get to the train station.  They had given me some instructions, but with my horrible sense of direction, I inevitably went the wrong way.

I was reasonably worried that I’d miss the bus for the second time, so I asked a girl which way to go.  She gave me instructions, but I must have looked a bit distraught, for she then offered to walk me there.  I was quite grateful for this, as I surely would have taken the wrong road at least five more times otherwise.

Fast forward to the end of my Kyoto vacation.  I woke up early to see my boyfriend off, along with the rest of the math boys.  I was reasonably sad to see them go so soon, and found myself wishing I could go back to America with them.  It was a bit painful to take the Kyoto trains alone back to my hotel to finish packing.  I checked out and headed out to find my bus stop.

My bus wouldn’t leave until 10:30 that evening, but there was really nothing I could do while carrying all of my luggage around.  So, I sat.  It was rather chilly, so every so often, I’d get up and sit in a restaurant or something for a few hours and then return to my place in front of the busses.

Evening approached and one of the men working at the bus stop, wondering why I had been hanging around all day in the cold, asked me if I was okay.  I told him why I was there, and he showed me a place I could wait indoors.  I was extremely grateful for this, but his kindness didn’t end there.

He asked me which bus I was taking, and it turned out that I had been sitting at the wrong bus stop all along!  Thankfully, he knew where I needed to go.  He told me to sit inside until it got closer to time to catch my bus, as he didn’t want me freezing outside.  We talked a bit whenever he didn’t have to be outside working.  It was a bit difficult to understand him as he spoke in a Kansai dialect, but we were still able to communicate.

It started to rain, so he gave me his umbrella.  He told me to keep it as it was supposed to rain in Tokyo as well.  When the time came, he took me directly to the place where I could meet my bus.  He even carried my suitcase up and down the stairs to get there.  I caught my bus and I made it back to my dormitory safely.  I am still so grateful to that man, and all of the others who have gone out of their way to help me.  I want to be the kind of person who does the same for others.

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