The other night, as my mom and friend and I were walking home to my apartment after a 3-ish-hour adventure for purikura (one of the best parts of Japanese culture, I think), when I casually walked up to a sign along the sidewalk, and picked up the sweater that was quite obviously hanging over it. At first, they were confused at my action, – taking the sweater – but then they were confused at the situation – it was clearly my sweater, but what on earth was it doing here?
I excitedly explained about Japanese culture with that sort of thing. If someone loses a scarf or jacket or anything whose owner isn’t obviously identifiable (e.g. not wallets and IDs), a passerby will just set the object in a higher, more obvious spot (as opposed to leaving it sitting on the ground or taking it). I could tell that they didn’t quite believe time, and that they kind of saw this incident as a rather rare one, but I did my best to make it clear that this was really quite a normal thing here in Japan, anyway.
Today, however, my words were finally believed. My mother, heading on her own to take the train from Tokyo to Osaka while I was at work, in her efforts to be oh-so-careful with her train tickets by putting them back in her bag as soon as she got on the regular train, discovered that she was no longer holding her ticket in her hand. Now, this was no ordinary ticket, of course. It was her $150 ticket for the Shinkansen (Japan’s bullet train) in an hour and a half.
So, she quickly rushed off the train at the next stop, hopped on one in the opposite direction, and hoped beyond hope that what I had explained the other night was true. She arrived back at my station, looked around the floors, and found nothing. However, keeping in mind that this is a train station, as well as the fact that this ticket was no trivial sweater or scarf, it makes perfect sense that when she went and asked at the booth with the station workers, they presented her with a clipboard that had an information sheet for her to fill out, in exchange for the ticket that was stapled to the top – someone had found and turned in her Shinkansen ticket in the short time since she had dropped it.
An angel in the form of an English-speaker then helped my mother find the right train to get her to the right place on time for her main train to Osaka, and wished her a powerful, “God bless,” as they parted. My mother then easily caught her train to Osaka, and met my brother at the correct station down there (Well, it’s here, now, seeing as I am now in Osaka, too.).
As she relayed the story to the two of us and a Japanese friend of my brother’s, all three of us were utterly unsurprised at the ticket’s having been turned in and found – and my mother finally realized how lost and found generally works here in Japan.