Japan - A Good Chance

We made our way across the street to the train station and found our friends Akira and Katsumi from the Bike Loop waiting to say good-bye. There were only a few minutes before our train would depart so we talked quickly and then grabbed a quick group photo on the platform.

The train pulled out of Niigata as we waved goodbye through the windows and then settled in for the two-plus hour ride to Nagoya.

We had each quickly perfected our train routines and I moved into mine effortlessly. The car was virtually empty so I claimed an extra seat, plopped my point and shoot into the seat pocket in front of me, took out my iPad, and quickly threw my memory card into it to look at some of the most recent images on a larger screen.

Bob Marley played in my earbuds as I tried to snap decent photos with my DSLR as the countryside flew by. The train came into another station for a brief stop when KMac asked, "Is this where we're supposed to transfer trains?" How KMac knew we were going to transfer trains was a mystery to me, as I had no clue. Our friend Takuya had fallen asleep in the seat in front of her, but must have been living in that half-sleep world. Just like that his eyes popped open, he took a quick look out the window, and pronounced, "This is where we change trains!"

Adrenaline kicked in and we each quickly jumped up, tossing our various electronic babysitters into our backpacks, and hurriedly grabbed our larger bags before the train took off again.

We quickly walked across the platform, then down a level to catch our next train, which I learned was leaving in three minutes.

I slid into my seat and as soon as my eyes hit the seat pocket in front of me I realized it, "I left my camera on the other train." There was no time to run back up there...no time to do anything...it was just gone.

The last photo taken...a tasty goodbye treat from our friends...

Our train began the journey to Nagoya and soon one of the train conductors passed by. Takuya quickly told him of my lost camera and conductor got on his radio to talk to train central. Takuya turned to me and said, "In Japan, there is a good chance you will get it back." I hoped that would be true, but knew it was entirely my fault.

A good camera is something you don't like to lose. That has always been the case, but nowadays seems even truer as camera models (particularly point and shoot) seem to change, evolve, and be discontinued on a monthly basis.

The camera I'd lost, that was now on a seat pocket journey across Japan without me, was a Panasonic Lumix LX3. It was a camera that Jason had recommended when I was looking to pick up a nicer point and shoot. The LX3 had good glass, a nice wide-angle lens, F2.0 aperture, and full manual capability. And the LX3 was no longer in production, replaced in the never-ending, better-faster-bigger file size camera evolution.

The conductor returned a short while later and said, "We found a camera. It is a Canon." While a 5D (most likely not what it was) sounded tempting, we reminded him that my lost camera was a Panasonic. The conductor got back on his radio and moved on.

Arriving in Nagoya we met up with our distributor Rie. Among the first words from her mouth was, "I heard about your lost camera. In Japan, there is a good chance you'll get it back." I could only hope she was right.

Besides losing the camera itself, an equal bummer was losing the images that were trapped on the memory card inside it. I was traveling without a laptop so my memory cards were the only storage source for all the pictures I'd been shooting. I couldn't help but wonder what images might have been lost.

An image I knew was trapped on the lost camera's memory card, but I'd thrown a copy onto my iPad...the lunch feast on the previous day's group ride...

Our Japan tour continued with my DSLR as my sole weapon, and then all too soon, our trip was coming to an end. The day before our departure I came down to the lobby to begin our single afternoon and evening of Tokyo exploration and Takuya met me, "They think they found your camera. We will have to do some paperwork." A spark of hope re-ignited within me.

I wrote down all the information I could and the next day flew back to Minnesota.

Six weeks later I get an email from Takuya with a proxy form from the police. I quickly fill it in and do my best to write 'Thank you very much' in Japanese.

Two weeks later I come to work and find a small, heavily taped, brown box with an international shipping label sitting next to my keyboard.

A really good morning at the office...

Inside the box is my LX3 camera. The memory card is still inside it. The camera battery is still holding 75% of its power.

There is a gift included as well: A new auto-opening lens cap from my friend Shuji. I had almost bought the lens cap on the last night in Japan before suddenly remembering that I'd lost the camera I was going to put it on.

Just like that...two months after I'd lost it...I had my camera back. Good luck? Good karma? Not really.

I got my camera back because of good people.

Someone found the camera in the seat pocket but didn't know the train station had a lost and found.

They turned the camera in at a police station where it sat in their lost and found, unclaimed.

After a couple weeks with no luck finding the camera on their trains, a worker in the train station lost and found department began calling all the local police stations to see if an LX3 had been turned in as lost.

One had. Mine.

I'm a true believer that people are by nature good, and that the world is filled to the brim with good people. It is unfortunate that we hear so much more about the few bad ones.

Though they'll most likely never see or read this blog post, I offer my sincere thanks to all those who helped in the return of my camera. Arigato. Domo Arigato.

In Japan, there really is a good chance you'll get it back.



This post filed under topics: Explore Touring Travel

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Mike Riemer

Mike Riemer

I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.


Guitar Ted | December 12th, 2012

Thanks for that uplifting story. I keep hearing lots of good stories from Japan. It sounds like a really great place to visit.

MG | December 12th, 2012

Wow… That’s cool.

Mark | December 12th, 2012

That really is amazing. Love stories like this!

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Steve | December 13th, 2012

Great story.

It’s great to hear positive stories and that there are people who will go that extra distance to do the right thing.

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Keith | December 13th, 2012

Awesome story Mike. Thanks for sharing.

Scott | December 13th, 2012

Awesome.  About 25 years ago my father was on a business trip with the owner of the engineering firm he worked for.  One evening they went out to a nice restaurant in Tokyo, and after food and drinks, they wobbled out to head back to their hotel.  The next morning, his boss realized that he had lost his wallet.  Since he had paid for dinner, the last place he remembered having it was the restaurant.  Back they went.  The wallet was still sitting on the table, NOBODY TOUCHED IT.  Wish the world was like this everywhere.  Great story Mike - thanks for letting the rest of us feel good for a few minutes!

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Troy L | December 13th, 2012

Great story.  It’s always a treat to hear one like that.

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Chris Chase | December 19th, 2012

This is a very nice story.  My wife and I had a great trip to Japan some years ago - we enjoyed the country and the people tremendously.  Thanks for sharing, Kid.

Glenn | January 2nd, 2013

Mike, thanks for sharing.  Great post.  Each time I read about Japan, I push it farther up my list of places to go.  I am thinking 2014 winter tour on Fat Bikes :-)  Thanks!!

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Steve Jones | February 9th, 2013

Yes, great story.I had a similar experience. I live in Japan and a few years ago went on a five day trip. Early morning so stopped at a family restaurant to eat breakfast before going to Tokyo station to board the train. Just before getting out of the taxi at the station I realized I had left my camera in the restaurant.  Not just any camera mind you, but my Leica rangefinder. read EXPENSIVE! Using same taxi,zoomed back to the restaurant   which was now busy with people and explained to the staff what had happened. They had my camera right there. Here you are, sir, they said as they handed it over the counter.
Japan is great like this. I just came back from my local bike shop and spent two hours inside chatting with the owner. My bike happily sat outside in the street, unlocked..and nothing to worry about. no one will steal it.

Diego | September 19th, 2013


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