The foreigner's trap

There are a lot of things in Japan which are made most definitely with the sole purpose of trapping and or confusing foreigners. I am sure that the person who made them is sitting behind a nearby tree, waiting to jump out and laugh at the next foreigner that comes along and trips. Actually, I have never seen this person. But I have been caught by a "foreigner's trap."

It was the weekend of the Dragon Boat race in Kagoshima, which is the prefecture south of Miyazaki. So, four of us English teachers jumped in a car and drove down to the hosting city. It was still typhoon season at this stage, so It was raining. We took the long long long way there. After several wrong turns and a serious debate on whether an American should be left alone to navigate. Just kidding, I love Americans. Japanese roads are just particularly hard to navigate, even with several Iphones and a GPS.

We did find our campsite in the end, but we were starving after driving all day. The way we came from was at least twenty minutes back to town, we were in the middle of nowhere. So we made the decision to try the way we didn't come from, in the hope that food was closer. Half an hour later there was  no sign of civilization and we decided to turn back. The "foreigner's trap" is a small open drain running along the side of a road, that is big enough to fit a tire in and very difficult to see. So, while trying to avoid an oncoming car on a narrow blind corner, somewhere up in the mountains of Kagoshima, in the pouring rain, we found this drain.

What followed was something I never expected. Possibly, because I didn't understand when they explained what they were going to do. The two gentlemen who were in the oncoming car stopped, called every person they have probably ever known, and 9 cars later we had an army of Japanese men lifting our car off of its side and out of the ditch in the pouring rain. They then proceeded to drive us back to our campsite, via a convenience store which was twenty minutes out of the way. I have no words to describe how grateful we were, and how amazing those people are. Perhaps, there is no one standing behind the tree after all.  


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