By Carole Goldsmith Copyright © 2010 All Rights Reserved
Arriving at Tokyo Station from Narita airport, (the first time a few years ago), I was very excited to explore Tokyo for the first time. “The buzzing city, that never closes”, that was how my friends had described Tokyo. This was also my first trip to Japan on my own and I was extra excited about the adventure of traveling around the country and seeing traditional Japan.
As I could not book into my hotel until 2.00 P.M., I had four hours to check out the sights around Tokyo Station. With a small suitcase and day pack, plus feeling a little tired from the nine hour trip from Australia, I went in search of lockers. There was block of lockers just nearby so I rushed over and placed my suitcase in the locker. The locker fee was Y500 for four hours, just the right time, I thought to myself.
I held the locker key in my hot little hand and placed it securely inside the pocket of my day pack. Off I went, out of one of the station’s exits, (not really noticing which exit I had left from). Armed with my map of Tokyo, complete with a subway guide, I headed off to explore the surrounding area. Wow, the subway was a maze of colour coded train lines and I somehow managed to figure out how to get to the tourist attractions by subway, not far from the station.
At 1.45 PM,, I returned to Tokyo Station to collect my suitcase from the locker. I extracted the locker key from my backpack and started looking for the locker. Not having any idea which exit I had left from and not really sure which entrance I came in, I looked around in amazement . Where on earth was the locker that I had my suitcase in? I looked at the number and looked at the lockers ahead of me and tried to match up my key with the locker. No, my locker key’s number was no where to be found. This started the nightmare of looking for the lost locker at Tokyo Station.
Here I was in Tokyo, my first day of travelling alone in Japan, I could not find my suitcase. I wandered around the station, went in and out of exits, trying to find something familiar. After an hour of unsuccessful searching for the chosen locker, I stood in the central area of some part of Tokyo station and just burst out crying. I was talking to myself and uttering some silent obscenities under my tongue and saying out loud “losto locker” – I thought to myself – maybe someone will understand my Japanese English – or Janglish. Almost immediately, I was surrounded by a group of around eight Japanese ladies, who seemed very concerned about me, sitting in the middle of Tokyo station and bawling my eyes out.
Hmmm… I did not see anyone else doing this, so maybe it was not really the done thing to do at Tokyo Station.
One of the ladies asked me in perfect English – “Can I help you?” I was in a very distraught emotional state by now and their offer of assistance made me even more frustrated. I could not tell them what was wrong in Japanese as my skills in communicating in their language were almost non existent, at the time. I waved my locker key in the air and between sobs of “losto locker”, I looked at them in a state of absolute panic. In a matter of seconds, they had called a policeman over from his police box.
I initially thought – now I am getting arrested – so I sobbed even louder. But the policeman was there to help me find my locker. He looked at the number on my locker key and smiled. Together, the policeman, the eight ladies and I following, proceeded to the “losto locker”. Within thirty seconds, the wonderful policeman found my locker. I opened it, feeling very relieved, and extracted from my suitcase, a bag of little koala souvenirs from Australia. After many “thank you very much” or “domo arigato gozaimashita .” I gave all the ladies a little toy koala and a slightly larger koala toy to the policeman. They all seemed very happy with the gift and I was certainly extremely excited to be reunited with my luggage.
The ladies then invited me for afternoon tea, which I offered to pay for, but no, they all wanted to find out about Australia as they were all travelling to Sydeney and Goldo Coasto the next month. And that was the nightmare of the lost locker at Tokyo station.
The moral of the story is to always, check the exit that your locker is near at Tokyo Station