Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Japan Trip 2015: Nagoya to Osaka Day 1

And so, I am back.

I am here to tell the tale and it goes like this.

When my paper was accepted for oral presentation in the IAFOR LibrAsia 2015, I was excited. Who wouldn't be? I thought, I will be presenting, once more, to an international audience and it is going to be in Japan. Japan! Images flashed through my mind: kimonos, haiku, ramen, robotics, kamishibai, kabuki masks, geisha, samurai, Studio Ghibli, and, cherry blossoms. The long and short of it, the preparation for the trip was remarkable. Thanks to the help of Darrel Marco and Ann Grace Bansig, I was booked on time and got my visa a week before our scheduled flight.

So, Darrel and I were together on the flight coming in Japan via Nagoya Central Airport. The Conference was in Osaka but due to our limited budget, we went the long way round. And boy, did we go round and round on our first night in Nagoya. When we reached Meitetsui Station, we looked for the bus stop of the night bus. We needed to ride this bus on time since the last trip is at 24.30. We followed the instructions in our online reservation form but couldn't find the spot. Our first attempt was the Meitetsui bus station but it was the wrong one. We asked the staff where Willer Express makes its stop but they simply said they do not know.

We went back where we started. You see, when you are lost, go back to where you began and you will find your way. So we retraced our steps, tried calling Willer Express (a futile effort) and trusted our instincts. We headed to JR Line and there, we found an information center. We asked for directions. The language barrier was so strong that it was an additional challenge. We comprehended through actions and signals, body language, and yes, intuition, again. The Japanese police and information staff we talked to when we were looking for the stop of the night bus were all very serious at helping us. I think they know what we meant and that they provided us with the right directions, but expressing these in a language foreign to theirs didn't help us. On our third try, yes, we went back to Meitetsui Line, a Japanese woman came out of nowhere when we were asking for directions from a taxi driver. Luckily, Chisako, our savior for the night, could speak English. Another luck came about. Darrel's Android picked up a signal to connect via wifi so he could download a map. Showing the map and our reservation print out to Chisako, she helped us find our way to the bus stop. She was after all, going to Tokyo via Shikansen and our way to the bus stop is her way to Shinkansen station as well.

With Chisako who helped us find the stop of the night bus.
It was a long walk. Pretty much like a regular 3k run for me. So imagine Darrel and I lugging our bags and suitcases, lost in Nagoya with only our map, our print outs and our guts intact. It was a test of faith. I never realized how steadfast and persevering Darrel is until that night. He never gave up given the time left at our hands. He was calm too. I sure did learn a lot of things from him that night. These days, I worry a lot. I almost gave up telling Darrel to buy us new tickets in another bus company. The thing is, he has so much trust. So much faith. Then I realized, I am growing old. How blessed am I to be in the company of the young.

How unafraid and trusting was I when I was Darrel's age? Maybe I need to remember. Maybe I need to bring back that heart of a child in me. I sure need to reflect more on this. Darrel and I were together Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. There I was being blessed with the grace of friendship and the kindness of a stranger.

The Night Bus has a game console, a small TV screen and headphones for music.
Finding the bus stop, we thanked Chisako. I gave her a copy of my book as a token of gratitude. The long ride to Osaka began. When we reached Osaka, we walked four or five corners more. We reached the train station, got off at Shin-Imimamiya, walked three corners, and finally we found our hotel where Ann Grace, May Schif and Willian Frias had checked in a day before. They were on their way out while we were on our way in.

SURPRISE! We were so noisy! We were so Pinoy!

Together at last!

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