if you have ever travelled in Japan, you will be familiar with eki stamps.
Every JR train station across Japan reportedly has a stand somewhere with a stamp, an ink pad, some paper or flyer. Eki stamps are a great way to remember where you have travelled. On previous holidays I have attempeted to get a stamp from every train station we’ve visited. They even have them at popular tourist sites – a great memory!
On Tuesday we travelled from Nagano to Matsumoto… this is where the eki stamp got me in trouble. We were early to the train station, purchased lunch for on board the train, and decided to go and wait on the platform. Our bags are kind of bulky and we wanted to get there early. Before we headed down I noticed the eki stamp stand. Put everything down and stamped my book – ah there is nothing like a stamp (okay… It’s a little nerdy, but so Japanese). We purchased a drink from the vending machine next to the stand, then headed down to the platform. We waited there for about 20 minutes or so, train was ready to board so we hopped on and got organised.
Sometimes, you just have a feeling something is missing -I had this feeling for about five or so minutes but everything seemed to be present so I ignored it. I had nearly finished a katsu sandwich (crumbed fried pork – I hadn’t had one before so I thought I should try them at least once).The train had about five minutes to go, I thought I would get out the green travel pass and our seat reservation tickets so we could enjoy lunch without the flurry of searching while the conductor waited for the tickets. Seat tickets, check. Travel pass…. Now they are kept in the brown travel wallet…. Along with our passports……hum which was…..I didn’t know! Quick scramble through all the bags. No travel wallet. Kym was doing the usual, what are you looking for, and me in my mild panic replied the passports, the travel passes..! Where the heck are they? Insert typical short argument about ones memory, then my statement , we need to get off the train. So mad scramble occurred. It was at this point I really thought our suitcases were heavy as we took them out of the only luggage holder we were occupying and proceeded to dump all luggage, lunch bags etc onto the platform in a most untidy fashion. It was at this point as Kym carried the plastic bags and food items, camera and phone, that his phone fell from his hands on the edge of the platform for a half a second and fell onto the ground near the train lines. We had a terse conversation about one of us going to find someone to assist. I then remembered where we stopped and where the travel wallet was – the stamp stand. I ran up the stairs, along the corridor, in between passengers, ran across the central section to the stamp stand. The travel wallet wasn’t there, I ran over the stand selling items stand saying “have you seen a brown passport wallet”, making opening movement with my hands. She said, yes, yes come me and we ran over to the train office where he handed me the wallet. Of course I bowed deeply and said, oh thank you, thank you. I ran back across the central section, corridor down the stairs again to where Kym was standing looking quite unhappy and sorry for himself. The rest Kym has said himself.
We may of missed the 1pm train to Matsumoto, but on the bright side we did catch he the 2.04pm. Let this be a lesson – make sure you have a procedure/system for all necessary items when travelling… And don’t leave anything at the stamp stand!