Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hello from Narita

I am now writing from an internet station in the Narita Tourist information center. I have had some trouble posting from another computer, so hopefully this one will be ok. Today I went to Sawara. It is a little town 30 minutes from Narita Station by train. I knew enough this time to get SAWARA written in Kanji (chinese characters) before I set out on the adventure, but that still didn`t help when I was faced with an immense and very colourful station map. I was also told (luckily) that it would be 480 yen, so with a little matching, and help from a kind stranger i could find which train I was looking for. I didn`t know how trustworthy this stranger was as he didn`t speak any English, and I didn`t understand the Japanese he was muttering to himself, and he kept repeating another station name, not the one that I was looking I started asking other younger people at the station. Generally all the high school students understand a little English even though they probably can`t speak much. I was mid conversation (handwaving and pointing etc) when another guy approached me. He spoke perfect English, actually he was a Mexican guy (disguized with a Japanese punk hairstyle). He was also going to Sawara, so I followed him. It turned out that he had lost his passport yesterday, and he was retracing his steps. He seemed quite concerned, and although his Japanese was pretty good, I thought that if I had lost my passport I wouldn`t mind having someone that I could talk to with me. So I stayed with him-I lucked out on more of a tour than I thought!

We started out at the information center near the station checking the lost and found-no passport. They phoned two other information offices, one at a shrine he visited, and still no passport. The very helpful staff called the free english tourguide service for me (even without my asking) and suddenly I was talking to Yuki who would be my guide-or our guide. One of the men at the information center generously offered to drive my mexican companion to the police station and to the shrine to look for the passport. Unfortunately the driver didn`t speak any English, but he wanted to help. Since I had the English guide waiting for me, he drove Antonio and me to meet the guide (Yuki). The 4 of us (complete strangers) went to the police station and he filed a report for his missing passport, then we went to the shrine to have a look around. We traced the 3km route that Antonio took on his bike, scanning the sides of the road for his passport. At the shrine we looked around (I took some pictures which I will add when I can). The driver gave us each 10 yen to put in the money box at the shrine where we were instructed on how to pray for the passport to be found quickly, after bowing and clapping and him muttering something about passports we continued to explore the grounds of the shrine. There was an incredibly large tree (1000 years old) and also a pond with many fish, almost too big to be cute. No passport.

We stopped on the way back to ask a store owner at a LIQUOR STORE (really a general store like in Lyndhurst or Inverary--same musty smell and everything), and the man had not seen the passport. Antonio decided to call his embassy to report that it was missing, so back at the information center Yuki helped him find the number through some airline connection she had. It turns out that the passport was found at Narita station, and was being held at the police station. He smiled a real smile for the first time since I met him. He headed back to the train (the man from the information center drove him to the station) and I continued my walking tour by the river with Yuki.

I saw many old buildings, including the house of the man that made the first map of Japan. There were lots of bridges, and small willow trees, but apart from that there was nothing much of interest, and it was hot, so she walked me to the station (where Antonio was still waiting) and we rode back to Narita. Long day!

I`m now on my way to Narita san temple and park again (I was there yesterday morning) there are some nice trees to sit under. It`s about 35 degrees and I`d guess 80 or 90 percent humidity because I can see the humidity. Air conditioning is nice, and I stop in some stores to look around and cool down-thank goodness the trains are all cool.

My time is running out on this computer, so I will post this, and write more later.

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