Hotel Hunting

In Japan, the first conversation we had was in French.

We were in the train coming from Narita Airport, warily checking our guidebook to see which station we were supposed to get off, when a Japanese man in his late twenties approached us and asked us if we needed any help. Naturally he asked us where we were from.

“If I didn’t have a shinkansen to catch for Osaka, I would have shown you to your stop,” he said apologetically in French. He then gave us directions, wished us luck, bowed slightly, and left the train at his stop.

“Damn, the people here are friendly!” I marvelled.

“Yes, they are,” Julien agreed. “The complete opposite of the French.”


The second conversation we had with a Japanese was not in French but English… laced with alcohol.

We had managed to get ourselves to the Higashi-Nihonbashi station and were staring at the printed directions to the hotel when a man in his late forties approached us.

“Yes! I see you are lost. Can I help you?”

Thinking of the Japanese guy on the train, we explained that we wanted to get to our hotel, and showed him our map. We could have found it ourselves, but we were moved by their friendliness.

This guy wasn’t just friendly though. He was also drunk. Taking hold of our hotel directions and never letting go of the paper, he tapped his cane several times on the floor and announced that he would take us there. “Follow me!” he roared drunkenly. “I know the way, I live not far from there!”

He led us through a maze of streets. It was about 9 in the evening, and all the stores were closing. He kept on talking about a beautiful classmate of his with whom he lost touch (yep, talk about going down memory lane) and at one time was talking about Art History while Julien and I grew increasingly worried that he was taking us on a very long walk around his neighborhood instead of showing us to the hotel.

We felt a bit embarrassed for being so suspicious of his intentions because after a long and winding walk, he hobbled up a street and then pointed to a huge neon sign. “There, my friends, is your hotel,” he roared. “YOU SEE?! I help you find your hotel!” Then: “Have a good time in Japan.”

And so we did.

Currently listening to:
Serge Gainsbourg
De Gainsbourg à Gainsbarre

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