You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach the instant you realize you’ve done something really stupid?
Yeah. That feeling. I had it last week.
Our train had just left Nagasaki station on the way to Fukuoka. And my wife said those three words — “where’s the camera?”
Normally, I’d say, “it’s safely stowed away inside my backpack.” But, earlier that day, I had decided it might be fun to take a few “train window” pictures. So, I slung the small bag with our trusty Lumix point-and-shoot over my shoulder. And suitcase, backpack, convenience store snacks, and camera in hand, we were off to the train station.
But the train tickets were wrong, and we had to make a change at the train station office. Not hard, but it required me to speak some Japanese…and sign a Visa receipt. So I took the camera bag off my shoulder to keep it out of the way. Whether I left it in the train station office, or on the bench at the platform, I don’t recall. But as the train was leaving the station, I realized….I had left our faithful camera behind.
After a frantic and futile search of our seats on the train, I realized it was no use. And spent much of the rest of our train ride berating myself for my carelessness.
Fortunately, my wife was being more productive. When we arrived at Fukuoka, she found a JR train line attendant, and said, “kamera wo nakushimashita” — I lost my camera. He promptly pointed us to … the Lost & Found office.
Entering the office, the smiling lady greeted us in Japanese. “Eigo ga wakarimasu ka” – do you understand English, we said. “Iie,” she said, waving her hands – not so much. Without a pause, my wife countered, “kamera wo nakushimashita. Nagasaki eki ni…” We lost our camera at the Nagasaki train station. Message received… but at first, she thought we were tourists, and we’d have to go back to Nagasaki to get the camera. “Tokyo ni sunde imasu,” my wife quickly said — we live in Tokyo.
Then, all was good. It seems that if you live in Japan, Lost and Found can ship lost items to you (cost on delivery). Soon she called Nagasaki station, and started asking about a lost camera. I heard her say something about “ao kaban” — blue bag. Success! I hadn’t mentioned that the camera was in a blue bag, inside a black bag. They found my camera!
We filled out our address on the return form, and between her little English and our little Japanese, we learned the camera would be shipped to us soon.
Sure enough, TWO days later, the camera arrived. The cost for this lesson — 1,339 Japenese yen — about $12 shipping fee.
So, I’ve learned a couple of things from my experience. First, from now on, my little point-and-shoot will be tucked safely away in my backpack when I travel so I don’t carelessly leave it aside. And, second, if you’re going to lose something, do it in Japan. I’ve often heard stories of lost items being returned safely to their owners. I now know from personal experience, it’s true.