I started work again this morning after my summer break. I work as an Uber driver in Canberra around dawn. “Best time of the day to drive,” I tell my passengers, “Nobody on the road but me and the kangaroos.”
I collected four young people for the airport. And their serious looking backpacks. And carry on. That’s a lot to cram into a Volkswagen, even my station wagon version. One day I must tell the story of how five of us drove across Europe in a Golf. Five days, six countries, three nationalities, a tonne of fun.
“Going anywhere special?” I asked.
“Japan,” one said, and gave the details. There had been a lot of Google research going on and in their minds, they were already skiing down the slopes and shopping in Shinjuku.
I mentioned I’d lost track of how many times I’ve been to Japan – five, I think, not counting transits – and they asked for tips.
“You know the crossing at Shibuya?” They nodded. “Sit in the Starbucks, have a coffee, watch the crowds.”
Everyone does it. Grand entertainment, watching the throngs going to and from the station. At peak hour, it’s like a battle scene from some apocalypse movie. Apart from the Japanese politeness, of course.
Everyone’s so helpful and friendly. I might be functionally illiterate in Japan, but someone will always help out a puzzled foreigner. Like pointing out that the “you are here” maps on street corners don’t necessarily have north at the top.
And they have a mania for presentation. “I bought a mug at that Starbucks, and they wrapped it in tissue paper, put it in a box, wrapped the box, and put it in a carrier bag.”
I mentioned the name of my blog, dropped them off at the airport for their fourteen hours of travel to a charming land and drove back into my usual run. If they are reading this, I’d love to hear how the trip went. Sounded fabulous. Just leave a link to your Instagram feed in the comments, okay?