Our Misadventures in Kanazawa, Japan

Castle in Kanazawa, Japan with flowers around it

A Little Background

During a recent visit with my mom-in-law, my hubby told his Mom about a funny mishap we had in Kanazawa during our trip to Japan.  His Mom enjoyed the story and suggested to me that I write about our travel, “misadventures.”

You know the travel mishaps, near-disasters, those “uh oh, I lost my cool” moments that you laugh about later when you’re back home again.  This side is rarely seen on social media because it isn’t always “pretty.” Well, pretty or not, the truth is, when you travel, not everything is going to go according to your tidy little plan. So with that in mind, I am starting this series about the “behind the scenes” misadventures that I have experienced during my travels.

Quick Note about Kanazawa

We loved our time in this interesting city.  There is an ancient castle, samurai houses, ninja temple, and beautiful gardens. The city of Kanazawa is laid out in a way that is great for exploring on foot or as mentioned in this post, on bicycles! This one day itinerary for Kanazawa describes all the fascinating sights you can see when you visit.

Misadventures in Kanazawa, Japan

My husband and I were on a trip to Japan.  It was our first visit to Kanazawa and we were attempting to use the public bicycle transportation system.  We enjoy riding bikes and loved the idea of using this system to see the various tourist attractions around the city. There are bicycle rental stations scattered around the city near all the main tourist attractions. You pay 200 yen (about 2 USD) and are given a code that unlocks the bikes from a locking bike rack.

As long as you check the bike in at another bike station in less than 30 minutes, you don’t have to pay any extra!  It is a very affordable way to get around the city. And the great thing about Kanazawa is that it is a reasonably flat city.  So it is easy to bike from destination to destination, and there are enough bicycle checkpoints that we never had to pay more than the initial 200 yen.

girl on public bike in Kanazawa Japan

Me at one of the bike stations in Kanazawa.

We were walking when we spotted one of these of the bike stations. The only problem was, there was only one bike available, and there were two of us.  So we looked on the map they provided that showed the locations of other bike rental stations, and we saw that there was one located at a bus station not too far from us.

My husband rented the one available bike and decided that he could ride ahead and make sure to get a bike at the other station before anyone else could get to it first.  I would walk there and meet him. This sounded like a reasonable plan.  That is until I watched him bike down the street and turn a corner only to disappear from view.

Technology Gone Awry

Usually, this wouldn’t be an issue, but one thing both he and I hadn’t thought about before he raced off, was that he was the only one with internet on his phone. He is a tech geek, and so he had our phones tethered together so that he only needed to purchase one SIM and one cell phone plan while we were in Japan.  And since we were normally always together, this had never been an issue.  That is until now.

As soon as he rode down the street and turned out of view, I looked down at my phone. At that moment, I realized I no longer had the internet.  Which meant, I could no longer look up directions to navigate myself to the bus station we were meeting at.

Which Way Did He Go?

I hurried to the end of the road and made a right where I had seen him turn.  He was nowhere to be found.  I walked down the street a bit further thru a narrow lane with houses on each side — still nothing.  Well, now I was getting irritated with him.  How could he have just run off and left me like that! He and I were going to have a friendly chat when I finally met up with him!

There were too many options for streets he might have turned down, and I didn’t want to get lost. So I turned around and made my way towards the main road we had been on before coming to the bike station.

Language Learning to the Rescue

I remembered the general direction of the bus station, so I walked up to the main road and then turned in the direction I knew the bus station to be.  A little while after turning down the main road, an older Japanese gentleman came walking by.  I excused myself and politely asked him if he could tell me where the bus station was.

Now, thank God I had taken the two weeks before the trip to listen to my Pimsleur Japanese Language CDs. And thankfully I remembered the phrase to ask where the nearest bus station was!  It saved my bacon in this instance.  The man told me where to go (thankfully with hand gestures as I couldn’t understand everything he said). I thanked him and then made my way to the bus station with the information he provided.

Now up to this point, I had an internal monologue inside my head of how I was going to let my hubby “have it” for abandoning me. Yes, it was an overly dramatic monologue. However, after getting some sense of direction and talking to the nice Japanese man, my spirit was picking up.

The Meeting Spot

Soon enough, I turned down another street, and just a little way up the road on the right was the bus station.  I saw the bicycle rack, but I didn’t see my hubby anywhere! And to be honest, that irritation I felt earlier, it morphed into full-on anger now!  I mean, isn’t the first rule that you wait at the designated meeting spot?! And yet, here he was nowhere to be seen, and I had no way of reaching him! So my internal monologue was going full speed ahead now, and he was going to get a severe tongue lashing when I saw him!

man at bike station in Kanazawa, Japan.

My hubby at a bike station.

Back Together Again

Well lucky for him he road up just a few moments after I arrived.  He realized his mistake and began searching for me. After not finding me, he circled back to the bus station to wait. So instead of giving him the planned tongue lashing, instead, I gave him a dramatic description of my being left alone. As we talked, I realized he, of course, had not meant to lose me and had tried to find me after realizing his mistake. My anger quickly defused, and we got our bikes and headed on our merry way!

In spite of a rocky start, we had a lovely day riding around the city of Kanazawa.  Thankfully I did not let this silly event ruin the day. And although at the moment, it did not feel that funny, we now laugh about it. We also discussed what the protocol would be, should we ever get separated like that in the future.

Emergency Protocol When Traveling

This is something I would recommend you do if you’re ever traveling with someone else or in a group.  Know where to meet if you are separated or unable to reach the other person. This is a good idea even at home, have an emergency plan in place, just in case!


So there you have it, my hubby road off and left me, but a crash course in Japanese saved the day.  It shows how even a small amount of language learning may come in far handier than you’ll ever know! Also, these things happen, tempers flare, and pressure is turned up when traveling. Shake it off, talk it out and move on and enjoy your trip.  Then laugh about it when you get home.  You will find these are the moments you remember the most. I have learned a lot thru travel, and learning to adjust to change is an important lesson!

I hope you enjoy these posts and I’d love it if you’d share some of your own misadventures with me.  You know, now that we can all laugh about them.

さようなら (sayonara!)

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  • Rachel at Reply

    Love this!! Separation was scary, but the reunion defused all the simmering, sizzling irritations and anger.

    • Charity at Reply

      Yes, it was a good outcome in the end and was also a good learning experience.

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