On August last year, my wife and I went to Japan for vacation. This was the country that I’ve always dreamt of visiting since I was a kid. We planned to celebrate my birthday there.
We landed at Narita Airport in Tokyo on a beautiful sunny afternoon. As a bus took us to the city center, I noticed that the scenery was breath-taking: the high mountains, the green fields, the concrete buildings that looked as if I was stepping into the world of mangas.
Arriving at the hotel, we were both tired and ony wanted to take a rest for the night.
The next day, we visited Sensoji Temple. It was the oldest and most popular temple in Tokyo. It took us some time to reach there as we had to walk for one kilometre from the train station to the temple’s main entrance.
I was fascinated to see what Japanese people usually do in a temple.
They gathered around a big incense burner on the ground and tried to wave the smoke into their face and body.
They used a big spoon made of bamboo to take water from a well, used it to wash their hands and drank some.
They threw coins into a big wooden box and prayed for a year full of happiness.
They drew a fortune stick with a number on it, then looked up for a corresponding note that explained the fortune, it could be good luck or bad luck. Then they tied the note to a hanger to wish it to come true.
We had no idea what these activities meant but we mimicked them anyway.
After hanging around and taking a lot of photos, my wife started to get panicked because she couldn’t find her purse. We searched our bags thoroughly again but it was not there. This was terrible news because there were many important identification cards inside the purse along with half of our cash.
We came back to each place inside the temple and tried to find it. My wife recalled that she may have put her purse on a table when we were drawing the fortune sticks but forgot to take it when we left. We returned to that table but there was no such purse.
We started to think of the worst possible case. If my wife lost her identification card, she may not be able to return to Singapore after our trip. That was horrible. Will my wife live in Japan from now on? 😂
After 30 minutes of searching in desperation, we decided to ask for help. We asked a nearby police whether he received any purse from anyone. He said no. He advised us to go to the police station near the train station instead. That would be one kilometre from here which was too far away from where we lost our purse. How could it help?
We continued our search in the temple for several more minutes. But still, the purse was no where to be seen. We took a sit and tried to calm down. Then we asked the policeman again. Still, he pointed us to the far-away police station outside. At this point, we had no choice but to go there. It was our last resort.
So we walked all the way out for more than one kilometre. As we were rushing, I thought about what I would need to explain to the immigration officer when we returned to Singapore and how time-consuming it would take to reapply for all of the cards. Besides, this was just the second day of our two-week vacation. This would ruin all the fun for the rest of the trip knowing that we had lost our purse.
Finally, we reached a small police station. As we stepped in, we saw two officers talking to a few people. Then we could see very clearly that our purse was right there on a table.
I couldn’t believe it. We had searched around the temple for an hour without luck, but now the purse was right here, at a police station one kilometre away from the temple. How could that be possible?
The police officer noticed the relief on our face when we saw the purse. He asked us a couple of questions, mainly to describe what was inside the purse. We had to fill in a report form and then finally got our purse back. We thanked the officer profusely as we left the station.
Standing outside, on the street of Tokyo, I was still not sure who gave the purse to the police but I was astonished by how kind that person was.
Who would pick up a lost item, stop what he/she was doing and walk a long way just to return it to the police station? I couldn’t believe it. I was so grateful. I didn’t know whether he/she was a Japanese or a foreigner, but I do strongly believe that this would only happen in Japan.
As we looked behind us, we saw a big gate with a huge lantern. We decided to take a photo to record this amazing experience. It came out like this:
After that remarkable day, we had a great time in Japan for the rest of the trip.
Thanks to the kindness of a stranger.
Note: you can see how the Sensoji temple looks like in our Japan video here.