‘No matter where you are in the world, you’ll find stars lighting up the night sky’ – Unknown
What manages to surprise me time and time again is how polite and helpful the Japanese population can be. I took a trip to Shibuya recently, alone and at night which is totally okay because is so incredibly safe out here. But on the way back I had no idea which train to catch and at that point I didn’t have my PASMO card and I wasn’t as familiar with the train system. I was starting to worry about how I was going to figure all of this out especially as the information desk wasn’t open and not many people speak English here. Eventually I worked up the courage to ask for help from two girls who looked around my age.
The girls who I approached were super friendly and although they were unsure at first of where I needed to go they used their phones, maps and local knowledge to help me figure out which train I needed to catch. We managed to exchange names through our broken knowledge of each other’s languages and it turned out that one of the girls needed to be on the same train as me. I asked if she spoke English and she said no but she is learning and enjoys practicing it. We were on the train for 40 minutes and in true 21st century style managed to communicate very well through the power of technology. Using google translate we were able to discuss our hometowns, where we go to school, what we did during the day and what we want to do in the future, we even managed to show each other pictures of our families and friends. This may not have been the most conventional connection but it was a unique experience that has stayed with me.
This experience was a shock to me in a way as in many popular media forms there is a stigma that Japanese people do not like talking to westerners and so I am happy to have went out and proved that wrong. I hate that the media will portray something and then it becomes what people believe is a nation. Stereotypes are shit and unless I had come to the country and put myself in these kinds of positions I would have never known whether it was true or not. Travelling breaks down barriers and destroys stereotypes and that is one of the many reasons that I love travelling.
Until next time