So, I had to send a suitcase ahead using Japan’s incredible takyubin service. This is basically like mailing a package through the USPS, but immensely cheaper (it cost me about $20 to mail a huge suitcase across Japan), faster, and you can mail your stuff from various locations. The biggest takyubin company is Kuroneko, which shows a picture of a black mother cat carrying her baby cat by the scruff of its neck in her mouth. You can’t spend a day in Japan without coming across one of these signs. They mean something like, “Mail your suitcase from here so you don’t have to drag it around the Tokyo train system.”

Anyways, I found an old hardware store with the cute little black cat out front and went in with my bulky baggage. The place was empty, and an old man sat lazily behind the register. He handed me a takyubin slip, and I began filling it out. That’s when the problems started.

I started by writing the street number, forgetting that in Japan, you start with the prefecture and then get more and more specific (city, neighborhood, street address). Whoops! He pointed this out, and I decided to play the “confused foreigner” card. Kindly, he offered to fill out the form for me.

However, I didn’t know my return address, because I was only staying there for a few days. Not quite sure what to do, I said, “could you wait a minute? I can go check it at home.” So, I left my suitcase with him, ran home with the slip and his pen, and checked the address on my laptop. In America? Probably not. But this is Japan. I love the fact that I could leave my suitcase with some random hardware shop owner as I ran home.

Riding my bike back to the store, I got the slip completed and mailed my package. Whew! Thanks, old man.

Unfortunately, I walked out with his pen in my pocket.