Train to Kofu

  
After a six-month deployment to the Arabian Gulf, I was ready for my first visit to Tokyo.  I had never been on a train in Japan before so I asked Sarah to join me.  Sarah had been living in Japan longer than me; she knew the train system pretty well.

For the most part of the day, we walked around Shinjuku and Shibuya districts. I was amazed with the many bright neon signs and how busy everyone looked. We stopped at some jewelry stands, which also carried fake designer handbags. Of course, I didn’t know any different because I didn’t even know what Louis Vuitton was.  

 While Sarah and I were browsing at rings and necklaces, a long-haired Israeli guy approached me and asked if I could do a favor for him. I was a little curious, so I asked him what the favor was. He dared me to meet his friend around the corner and kiss him on the cheek. I laughed at him and said “No way!” Sarah overheard the task, and then talked me into doing it. I caved into the pressure and told the Israeli guy that I would act on his dare. After he pointed to his friend, I strolled over to where the buddy was standing. I tapped his shoulder and briefly said hello. He looked a bit surprised and then said hello back. I told him that his friend wanted me to give him something. With that, I quickly kissed him on the cheek and rushed away. I yelled to Sarah to hurry up because she was still standing in disbelief of what had just happened. Once Sarah caught up to me, we disappeared into the masses of people walking around.  

 It was getting late. I thought it would be best for us to head back to Yokosuka. I had to work the next morning, and I wanted to have enough sleep. After about ten minutes on the train, Sarah wanted to get off and use the restroom. I was a little irritated, but I followed her wishes anyway.

 I sat outside watching the trains pass by as I waited for Sarah to come out of the restroom. After ten minutes passed, I went to go check on her. When I opened the door, I saw Sarah talking with a Japanese girl. I asked Sarah if she was ok. Sarah told me that she wanted to hang out the girl and stay out longer. My feelings were hurt but I understood that she wanted to stay behind. Sarah didn’t have to work the next morning like I did. 

 I hopped on the first train that stopped and headed back to Yokosuka, so I thought. I wasn’t familiar with any of the names of towns that we passed. I was not sure if I was even going the right way.  

 After an hour, the train stopped at its last destination. I was very disoriented with where I was. I walked up to a train employee and asked him where I was. He didn’t understand what I was saying. Luckily, a group of Japanese teens that were nearby understood what I was saying. All of a sudden, one of the guys in the group volunteered to translate for me. I asked the guy where I was. The guy spoke Japanese to the train employee, then the train employee pointed to a spot on the map. Kofu. Kofu? Where is Kofu? I asked where Yokosuka was. More Japanese was spoken between my translator and the train employee. The train employee placed another finger on Yokosuka. Yokosuka looked really far away from Kofu. I also found out that Yokosuka is five hours away from Kofu. I asked when the next train will come. The guy explained to me that the train closed at midnight, and will not run again until 5 a. m. I didn’t know what I would do in the mean time. My translator offered me to go with them to climb Mount Fuji, which was very close by. Although I was very tempted to go with them, I decided that it wouldn’t be the best idea. I had a train to catch.

 At that point, I sat down and started to panic. As I was crying, I thought of how I was going to get back to Yokosuka. I also thought what I would tell my superiors, if I ever saw them again. Then, I thought of what I would do for five hours while waiting for the first train.  

A Japanese girl, Kayo, witnessed my confusion. Kayo was at the train station to pick up her little sister. She asked me if I would like to stay with her. Oh my god, she speaks English. I was a little wary at first, but I knew it would probably be safer than sticking around in a foreign train station.

 When I got to Kayo’s house, I was asked to place my shoes at the door. I walked inside and immediately noticed the Tami mats on the floor. Everything in the living room looked simple. There were cushions on the floor for seating, and a miniature table placed in the middle. It was unlike anything I had ever seen.

Once I reached Kayo’s room, I was also blown away with how her room was decorated. Kayo’s room looked like a typical bedroom in America, only with a futon on the floor.  

Kayo and I got to know each other better. I explained where I was from in the United States, and what I did in the U.S. Navy. Kayo spoke about her steady boyfriend and showed me some personal pictures of her and her family. Kayo played a few Japanese pop songs that were popular at the time. Although I could not understand the words in the songs, I thought the style and rhythms were pretty catchy.

Kayo’s mom brought us some Japanese bean cake and hot green tea. I had never tried such a snack before, but the bean cake was very tasty.  

After we ate, Kayo showed me where the bathroom was so I could take a shower. I was looking for a bathtub. There was a small bathtub, but it was covered up with plastic. Then, I saw a faucet right above the tiled floor. There was a shower attachment connected to the faucet. I noticed a small drain in the middle of the bathroom. I asked Kayo if that’s where I took a shower. She laughed and then nodded. I was worried about the water messing up the bathroom, but I guess that’s another difference between Japan and USA. Kayo also gave me some undergarments and pajamas to change into. Once I finished with the shower, Kayo told me that I could sleep on her bed. I was very impressed with her hospitality.

Kayo woke me up around 3 a. m. to take me back to the train station. I saw that my clothes were folded very neatly. Kayo had washed and dried the clothes that I had worn the day before while I was asleep.  

Once we reached the train station, Kayo gave me a handwritten map with directions showing me how to get back to Yokosuka. She also helped me get my train tickets from the ticket machine. I gave Kayo a big hug and thanked her for taking me into her home. I was a little saddened that I might not ever see her again.

 I followed Kayo’s directions and reached Yokosuka around 8 a. m. I was only thirty minutes late to work. When I told my superiors what had happened, they didn’t believe me because the story was so bizarre. Luckily, I didn’t get in trouble.  

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