I don’t know why, but usually the strangest stories happen to me when I’m in a public transport. I remember that once, in Tanzania, a little local girl claimed that I’m her older sister and she’s going with me. The situation was quite confusing and I didn’t know how to convince her to go home. Hopefully the story I want to share with you today is definitely a happy one. Strange, but positive.
Kyoto. The city bus. I’m sitting with my huge case on the way to the train station. My luggage, taken straight from the hostel storing room, still has a green badge with my name on it: イザベラ (i-za-be-ra).
Out of sudden, an old Japanese in his late 70’s looks at my name and starts a typical local-to-foreigner small talk: where are you from, what are you doing in Japan, do you like it, ect. The conversation goes well (and I’m glad I have enough courage to practice my Japanese), when a few bus stops later he says:
– Here (taking something out of his wallet), I want you to keep this.
– What is it?
(does he want to give me some money or what? I know I’m traveling for a while but I don’t look so bad…. do I?)
– This is a photo of Buddha from Kamakura, a place very close to the heart of every Japanese.
– Thank you sir, but…
– Oh, and this one. It’s Mount Fuji. …And one more – Matsumoto Castle. I made these photos in 1980’s. They are precious to me. Please, take it.
Then the bus stops and the man bows, turns around and gets off. And I’m still sitting there, not able to find a word to describe what has just happened, with the photos in my hand. Then I discover that each photo has a written description on the back. It’s in English! So they were prepared for a gaijin (a foreigner) in advance. Interesting… Well, on the other hand, there’s no point in introducing such places to Japanese, right? No matter the reason, it was a really nice surprise for me 🙂
I really want to say that I like Kyoto public transport system. It’s so neat and organized. Lines of people waiting on the bus stops (instead of creating typical European chaos), always getting in in the middle of the bus & getting off through the front door next to the driver, easy to use cash-paying machines if you don’t have a ticket, unusual politeness of drivers (I’ve even seen a driver who got off from the bus to show a lost tourist the way!), and their melody-talking all the way 😉 This is what gaijins miss when coming back home, really.
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