Plain sailing with a helping hand
Our cruise liner docked in Kobe, on Japan’s main island of Honshu, for the day and we decided to take a trip to Kyoto rather than go on one of the ship’s shore excursions. We travelled on a limited express train to Kyoto and arrived an hour later.
After a pleasant day in the old capital, we caught the 6pm service for Kobe, expecting to be back at the ship well before its midnight departure. When the train pulled into Osaka, about halfway to Kobe, everyone got off and signalled we should too. The platform was crowded about 10 deep with disgruntled locals. There were loudspeaker announcements in Japanese but we had no idea what was going on.
Looking around, I noticed a young caucasian man and asked him if he spoke English and he answered, “Yes, I am American.” He told us he wasn’t sure what was happening because he was unfamiliar with some of the words in the announcement. He spoke to a railway employee in fluent Japanese and told us that there was a serious problem with the trains and there were no more running to Kobe that night. Horrified, we suggested returning to the Osaka Shinkansen station to take the high-speed train, but he said that would be expensive and we should change to another rail line. We agreed and scurried after him to the other station, which we would never have found ourselves.
He told us that his name was Arthur, that he was a postgrad student at Osaka University, living in Kobe with his Japanese wife. He said he had been in Japan for five years and trains were never late and certainly never cancelled. With Arthur’s help we bought tickets and waited for the next train. It was very crowded, but we managed to squeeze aboard. The trip seemed to take forever as the train stopped frequently, but it finally arrived at Kobe.
But we weren’t quite home free as we had to take the Port Liner train to the cruise terminal. Even though he wasn’t going our way, Arthur helped us to buy tickets and showed us the correct platform and where to alight. We thanked him profusely and made our way to the platform.
The Port Liner arrived soon afterwards and we were back on the ship by 10pm, very tired and so relieved. We will be forever in Arthur’s debt. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: email@example.com. Columnists receive a pack of Maine Beach products created using certified organic extra virgin olive oil from the McLaren Vale region of South Australia; includes Olive Oil Duo (hand and nail cream; body mousse) plus mini hand and nail cream and body wash. $84.90. More: cocco.com.au.