After discovering that my passport had decided to take leave of my company and go travelling without me, my onward plans were in tatters. The Japanese are famously honorable people, and I had been advised to do nothing hasty as the chances of my passport being recovered were good. However, as the days passed, hopes of seeing my heavily stamped passport faded and I was left with just one disappointing option of returning to the UK to get a new passport.
So today, I went to the British Embassy in Tokyo and collected an Emergency Passport that is valid only for my non-stop flight back to the UK. I’d pretty much accepted the disappointment of losing my passport and the fact that my onward travel plans had been thrown into such disarray, but it was hard to hold the emergency passport and feel good about tomorrows flight.
I’m usually a lucky guy, and while failing to recover my lost passport isn’t a tale of good fortune, I cannot write about this drama without mentioning the stroke of luck I did have. I’m a couchsurfer, which means that from time to time I meet up with, and stay in the homes of, people I don’t know. That might sound like madness, but there’s a growing community of people who are open to meeting strangers, knowing that most of us really aren’t that strange at all. In Tokyo I was staying in the home of Sephrine, and I couldn’t have been luckier to meet such a kind and generous person at my moment of drama.
Losing your passport is stressful, losing it overseas is more so, but losing it in a country like Japan, where you cannot understand or make sense of the language, well, that’s a big drama. I’m quite sure I could have muddled my way through the drama myself, but I didn’t have to thanks to Sephrine. Her generosity, kindness, and support was an absolute blessing. As well as spending a great deal of time on the telephone contacting the various authorities, Sephrine took time off work to accompany me to the police station to report the loss. I can’t say I was altogether upbeat, but she was caring and supportive as if we were friends of old. She went out of her way to try and ensure that I had a good time in Japan, and even arranged for me to visit her brother and his wife in Kyoto. I owe her a huge debt of gratitude and honestly feel deeply fortunate to have met someone so helpful, and accommodating.