Sunday, November 6, 2011


One snowy day in Takayama....

I’m a little behind with the Bootsnall challenge, due to the intrusion of Guy Fawkes Day and the need to say something about that. But here is Day 5’s prompt:

One of the greatest joys of travel can be the random acts of kindness you’ll receive from total strangers. Have you ever found kindness from strangers in unexpected places?

This is one that prompts a number of memories, but the one I’m going to share with you is a story from Japan. I was travelling there with three others a few years ago, and we were on the train to Takayama in the Japanese Alps, with snow beginning to fall gently. We had a reservation to stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan. I was having a desultory browse through the guide book when I came across the information that “in most rural areas in Japan credit cards are not accepted”. Er...guys, how much yen do we have? We pooled our resources of cash, and found it to be quite a bit short of the price of a night in the ryokan. So first thing off the train we headed to the Tourist Information Booth to ask for the location of the closest ATM (which, in Japan at that time, had to be an “international” ATM or our cards would be useless). The Tourist Information Booth did not speak English. Hmmm...

Our ryokan before the snow really set in.
Off we trudged through the ever-deepening snow to our ryokan, where the small elderly Japanese proprietress greeted us in kimono and apron, and we all knelt on her tatami mat to bow and welcome. After the greetings, I opened the painful subject. “ take credit card?” Horrified: “Ah, no! No credit card!” Painfully ashamed: “I’m sorry but we don’t have enough cash.” Dismayed: “No cash?” Sadly, hanging head: “No cash.” Brightly: “No ploblem! You...send!” What the little lady meant - bless her - was that she was perfectly willing to trust this bedraggled family to mail her the money later!

Our ryokan after the snow really set in.

Enjoying our hostess's kind hospitality.

To cut a long story short, we did manage to find an “international” ATM the next day and were flush with cash at check out time. Out came the little lady with her address all written out, ready for us to mail her the money. It was in Japanese characters, which might have confused the Australian post office. But in any case I was never so relieved as when I was able to triumphantly wave a fistful of yen and proclaim “we have cash!” And very excited our hostess was to see it, too.

We set out into the now deep snow drifts, warmed by the trust and kindness of our hostess.

No comments:

Post a Comment