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How Do You Say "Bus Stop" In Japanese?

Dear Rudy,

Japan is a nation full of good Samaritans. When my husband and I lived there for nine months, we were helped by strangers nearly every day. The best story happened shortly after our arrival in suburban Tokyo with our 6-month-old daughter.

We had read in the Japan Times about a weekend festival in the mountains, complete with firing of ancient muskets, running of the sacred white horses up the temple steps, entertainment, and food. It sounded fantastic, so we carefully wrote down the directions for how to find it and headed out first thing in the morning. There were several train connections to be made, each train smaller than the last. It really felt like we were headed out to the middle of nowhere.

Finally, the last train came to the end of the line and we all piled on a bus. We found the festival and had a great time. As the sun set and it started getting dark, people began leaving. We thought we should start for home, too, so we went back to the bus stop to wait for a bus. Unfortunately, the bus stop we used that morning was deserted. We waited for a while, then decided to ask for directions.

The first few folks we asked couldn't understand our broken Japanese. (In Tokyo, most people spoke some English, but not out here in the mountains.) But then the proprietor of a noodle stand, busy cleaning up after the day's work, got a grasp of our predicament. He was trying with great urgency to tell us something. He kept pointing in the opposite direction of the bus stop. Finally, he called his daughter out. She led us to a car, and asked us to get in. After she dropped us off, we understood why she drove us. The bus back to the train station left from a mile or two away at the other end of the village. Her father had known we would never have found it.

We're pretty sure we caught the last bus of the evening, and only because strangers that we could barely thank in their native tongue had taken pity on us and helped us out.


Angels in Airports

Dear Rudy,

I was in the airport, waiting to depart on my first-ever trip abroad - a long wished-for adventure to Ireland with my daughter. Just as the boarding call came, an Irish monk with whom I had chatted earlier walked up and asked, "Is this your camera?" It was. It seems I had taken it out while nervously sorting through my carryon bag. Guardian angel? I think so!

Then, as we approached the gate, one of the gate agents stopped me. He told me that he had blocked out the center seat between us for the flight from JFK to Shannon, and for the return flight as well. The seat between us on the return flight was the only vacant one on the plane. His thoughtfulness made our trip far more comfortable. We had a great time, thanks to the kindness of strangers.


Michaels Top Ten Travel Tunes

Dear Good People of The Savvy Traveler:

I have given your recent Question of the Week about favorite travel tunes some thought and have decided that I would like to respond with a top-10 list. This is for people who would not dream of leaving for a trip without making a compilation tape ...


"I'm a Steady Rolling Man" by Robert Johnson

"Vapor Trail" by Ride

"Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan

"Ramble On" by Led Zeppelin

"Autonominous" by The Origin

"Get on the Good Foot" by James Brown

"Heat Wave" by Ahmad Jamal

"I've Gotta Have a Song" by Stevie Wonder

"100% Dundee" by The Roots

"In God's Country" by U2

Michael St. Paul, MN

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