Hijiyama Jinja, Hiroshima

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

We landed in Osaka’s Itami Airport on the evening of December 31st, collected our ridiculously voluminous luggage, and prepared to make the final leg of our epic journey—this time from Osaka to Hiroshima by shinkansen (bullet train).

If all went according to plan, we’d be joining the Princess’ parents for their annual midnight shrine visit to celebrate Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year.

But things rarely go according to plan, do they?

We landed in Osaka’s Itami Airport on the evening of December 31st, collected our ridiculously voluminous luggage, and prepared to make the final leg of our epic journey—this time from Osaka to Hiroshima by shinkansen (bullet train).

If all went according to plan, we’d be joining the Princess’ parents for their annual midnight shrine visit to celebrate Oshogatsu, the Japanese New Year.

But things rarely go according to plan, don’t they?

It’s the Little Things that Count

Traversing Honshu while encumbered with 200+ lbs of luggage seemed like a remarkably stupid idea, so we strolled up to the exchange counter, forked over our “doru” (that’s US Dollars to you honkies out there), received a fistful of yen, and proceeded to the luggage delivery counter just down the airport aisle.

Because Japan is hella convenient like that.

Everywhere around us people were well dressed and profoundly polite. Service reps greeted us with deep courtesy, and bowed as they discharged their duties. Among the airport workers, the men wore dashing ties, and the ladies all sported silk kerchiefs tied elegantly around their necks.

I tell ya—it’s the little things that count.

With only a few hours left before midnight, we figured we’d drop off our bicycle box, guitar case, and two enormous black suitcases, kick ’em some yen, and proceed on our merry. We were certain that our huge luggage would only pose problems on Japan’s bustling public transpo—especially with all the New Year’s traffic going on.

What we didn’t figure on was that the extreme size of our luggage would prove problematic at the delivery counter, too. The huge black suitcases were good to go at about ¥2000 ($20) each, but the bike box and guitar case exceed their size limitations—each by an impressive margin.

Because, as afore said—it’s the little things that count.

Moreover, we had about 25 minutes to come up with a way to get my bike and guitar to Hiroshima, or we’d miss the last train and have to spend the night of the New Year stranded in the airport.

Never Say Never

If there’s one thing three years of canvassing for nonprofits taught me, it’s make eye contact, and shut the fuck up after you ask for money. Okay, so not really relevant in this scenario, but seriously, this advice is golden.

The other thing canvassing taught me is that the difference between “possible” and “impossible” usually boils down to the point at which you throw in the towel. Videlicet, you’d be amazed at what you can achieve when you’re just hellbent on not giving up.

Our first thought was to send the bike and guitar via Kuro Neko (Black Cat) delivery service—but that would have cost ¥10000 ($100) for the bike alone, and in any case we didn’t have enough time to reach any of their locations before our train departed.

Balls.

In the spirit of Japanese service, a handsome gentleman at the counter helped me calculate exact measurements of the bike box and guitar case while a silk-scarf-bedecked lady called one delivery option after another to inquire what services would accept our overlarge items. Yet each place proved either unreachable within our time-frame, or adverse to enormity.

It was around the “less-than-ten-minutes-left-oh-shit-what-are-we-gonna-do” moment when an incredibly obvious though dawned on me.

Let’s take ’em with us.

The nice lady helped us one last time by calling the shinkansen—AND the bus we’d need to take to get to the shinkansesn—to ask them if these retardedly large objects and the two retards towing them could come aboard.

Onward Ho!

With less than five minutes to spare we headed out to the bus stop, the Princess towing our two carry-on suitcases behind her, while I carried the guitar case in one hand and dragged the bike box along the ground behind us.

We stowed our huge items in the belly of the bus and climbed aboard.

At the station, we repeated our suitcase/guitar/box dragging antics off of the bus and onto a bullet train which swept us through silent darkness, past the streaking lights of Osaka’s nighttime sprawl, through the Japanese countryside, and on to the lovely city of Hiroshima.

At Hiroshima Station, Kouji-san, the venerable father of the illustrious princess, met us with his Toyota Prius, the back seat folded down in readiness for our ridiculous baggage. The Princess’ folks live downtown near the station, so we were dragging the bike box into the mandatory shoe-removal foyer of their house within a few short minutes.

This accomplished, we greeted Naoko-san, the magnanimous mother of the illustrious Princess, dropped off our other bags in the back room, and together departed for Hijiyama shrine to get our New Year’s on—Japanese style!

At long last—we arrived.

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