Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Christmas Miracle!

It first glance this post may appear to be off topic but, as you read you will see that it is connected to the on going theme of courtesy in Japan and the some of the common areas to which this level of courtesy extends to. I would like to tell you about something that just happened to me last weekend that I have iterpreted as a kind of Christmas Miracle and made me want to shout from the highest mountain top "日本最高!" Nihon Saikou! Japan it the Best! "日本大好き!" Nihon Daisuki! I love Japan!" and "ありがとう!" Arigatou! Thank you!
Last Friday, December 12th, was a normal Friday like many others. I went to work that morning and taught my English communications classes. After school I trained with the students in our Dojo, but there were a couple of things about this particular Friday that made it unique for me. Let me tall you about them.

(Buntoku SHS Karate Dojo, Kumamoto, Japan, 2014)
The next day all of the members of the Karate Do Team would be travelling by micro-bus to the neighbouring Prefecture of Saga for a practice tournament and Officials Seminar. This in itself was also nothing too far out of the ordinary except for one thing. On this particular Friday night the Head Coach, Murata Sensei had plans and trusted me with the training session and the key to the bus. I would see to it that the students packed what they could that night and load it onto the bus so that we could leave smoothly, early the following day. I should point out that this was a first, I had been entrusted to perform various duties in the past but to hold onto the key of the bus over night meant that if, for any reason I couldn't make it the next morning no one would be able to go anywhere. This was a responsibility that Murata Sensei usually assumes himself.
I was happy to help and told him that I would take care of everything and I did. We ended a great training session on time and everyone was feeling good, we talked about how we could best use the following day's practice tournament to our best advantage leading up to the competition on the 21st in Miyazaki Prefecture. Then we packed the equipment and loaded the bus double checking that nothing was forgotten. Everyone got changed and went home excited about the next day.
On my way home I stopped into the supermarket to do a little shopping. My Mother in Law was visiting and since I was leaving for Saga early the next day, I wanted to get some thing that I could take with me for breakfast so that I would not disturb anyone so early in the morning.
(On the bus with, 2014)
As I said earlier, Murata Sensei gave me the key to the bus because he had plans that night and this was a first! On recent excursions I have arrived earlier than him and I always make it a point to buy him and I a hot coffee. We drink the coffee as he drives the bus and have great conversations about a wide range of topics. We have learned a lot about each other during these drives all across Kyushu and other parts of the country while the students are sleeping in the back. I really appreciate this time and the coffee is just a small gesture of my appreciation. This year the weather has been a little strange and so I try to time the buying of the coffee with our departure time so that it is still hot when he drinks it. (this is just a little background information and foreshadowing to what is coming soon)

(Murata Sensei driving the bus, 2014)
 So I am at the supermarket, with the key to the bus burning a hole in my pocket if I lose it, I don't even want to think about what would happen. I am so focused on the key that... I become somewhat tunnel visioned.
...well I get home safe and sound with the key and was able to enjoy the night with my family. I got up the next morning, the key was safe and I was out the door with time to spare! As I said, I usually buy coffee for Murata Sensei and myself when we travel so you can guess where I was headed. I get to the shop, and...
I Rush back to the apartment knowing it is not there and knowing that I have to get to the school on time because everyone is depending on me, but I would also be taking an Officials Ranking test that day and needed ¥3,000 (about $30.00) for that. In a mad rush looking for a wallet that I knew wasn't there  I managed to wake everyone up. They all sprang into action trying to help me while making quiet comments about their concern for me having lost my wallet. I didn't have any time so I told my wife, Reika that I needed ¥3,000 for the day. She offered the family wallet to me and I declined, in the end I walked out the door with a ¥5,000 ($50.00) bill in my pocket. 
Out the door again, I was a little shaken but, I still made it to the school in time (6:57 AM), we had planned to leave at 7:00 AM. As I had expected, everyone is waiting for me in front of the bus. I say to Murata Sensei, as I pass him the key, "I'm sorry I'm late, I lost my wallet." Everyone was shocked and a lot of nervous laughter could be heard as we got on the bus.
I was sure I had left my wallet on the counter as I was bagging the things I bought at the supermarket. Murata Sensei asked me if my wife would go and check the store when it opened. So I called Reika and asked her to check at the supermarket at 9:00am.
I was on my way to the seminar and testing with $50.00 in my pocket and no wallet. In the wallet was EVERTHING! All of my ID cards, Cash Cards, Credit Cards, EVERYTHING! Murata Sensei and I didn't talk at all, the whole way there accept for a few bursts of very short questions and answers regarding where I might have left the wallet and what would possibly happen next. I still had my cell phone so I could cancel the cards and inform the authorities but, I didn't want to think about that. I wanted to wait until I heard back from Reika. And the whole time, in my heart, I knew that this is Japan, everything would be fine. A little voice, you know the one in the back of your mind, kept telling me that "everything will be OK, it will come back to you!" I knew this completely. But, there were still many things running through my mind besides this voice. I decided to listen to and concentrate on the reassuring voice. Periodically, Murata Sensei would ask me how I was feeling, smile and then go back to keeping quiet or talk politely with someone else. 
Now in Saga, we arrived to the 会場 Kai Jyou, Meeting Place where the event takes place, 40 minutes early, but we made our way into the building we were greeted pleasantly and thanked for arriving so early. They took it as a sign of respect and our willingness of involvement.

(SHS Kyushu Practice Tournament & Officails Seminar, Saga, 2014)
(the Author with Takahashi Sensei and Minamizawa Sensei, Saga, 2014)
At 9:10 AM while waiting in the meeting room for the seminar to start, I got a call from Reika... She wasn't quick to tell me that she was in possession of my wallet, but I could tell by the tone of her voice that everything was OK. The wallet was there at the supermarket and nothing was taken from it! Over ¥300,00 ($300.00) cash, all of my ID, cashing and credit cards, everything was inside! Some honest person or staff member of the supermarket had had the courtesy to hand in the wallet as it was to the management and they held on to it, handing it over to Reika completely intact.

A Christmas Miracle! That night after returning home I gave Reika a big hug and thanked her for acting so quickly on my behalf. Her acting so quickly, I know, is a true sign of the love she feels for me, another Christmas Miracle!
So, please consider the things you are grateful for this Holiday Season. I am certain that the positive energy that we emit comes back to us and the authentic feelings of joy that wee feel are contagious. I wish you All the Best and hope that you can enjoy your own Christmas Miracle!

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