A true story of coins, buses, and Pokémon.

When traveling to a different country, doing a little bit of homework before you go will usually help you avoid most major cultural faux pas. Oftentimes the trickier part comes from tiny daily life activities.

For example, Japanese manga artist and world traveler Goka Yajin (@gokayajin on Twitter) needed to hop on a bus while he was in Europe, and thought he was well-prepared.

▼ (panels read right to left)
Getting on a bus in the European countryside (the bus charges a flat fare).
I made sure to break a bill ahead of time, so I had a bunch of coins to use.

However, despite enough change to make his wallet jangle, Goka Yajin quickly ran into a problem. “We only accept payment by prepaid IC cards,” said the bus driver, who was chatting on his personal phone.

“This country’s economy is so cashless,” thought Goka Yajin.

“You need to buy a card at the service counter at the station,” the bus driver commanded, but remember, Goka Yajin was in the countryside. It was a 10-minute drive to the nearest station, and you’d have to multiply that travel time several times over to account for how long it’d take on foot. “Can you let me slide just this once…” Goka Yajin began. All this was taking place while he was standing in the bus’ entry walkway, though, and he soon heard a stern “Hey” from someone else who wanted to get on.

Turning around, Goka Yajin saw a large, muscular man with a shaved head and tattoos covering his arms and neck. “Oh man, I’m gonna poop myself,” Goka Yajin thought as the arrival of this fearsome-looking newcomer ratcheted up the tension and awkwardness even further.

The tattooed man and the bus driver then got into a heated exchange, speaking in the local language with a speed and intensity far beyond what Goka Yajin could keep up with. He knew they were talking about him, though, and so he started trying to convey some sort of apology, along with his willingness to get off the bus then and there since he seemed to be causing trouble for everyone else who was more familiar with the bus fare protocol.

By this point, the tattooed man had squeezed past Goka Yajin, pulled out his IC card and tapped it down onto the pay panel. Goka Yajin took this as a sign that the man had grown impatient at the holdup Goka Yajin had caused and wanted the driver to just start the bus and get underway.

“I’m sor- sorry,” stammered Goka Yajin.

But it turns out Goka Yajin’s interpretation was only half-right. Yes, the tattooed man did want the driver to start the bus already, but he wasn’t angry at Goka Yajin for the delay. Actually, he’d been upset at the driver for not cutting the obviously troubled traveler some slack, and had taken it upon himself to remedy the problem. And just how did he do that?

By paying for both his own and Goka Yajin’s fares, explaining his actions with a simple but heartfelt “I love Japan.”

▼ And as proof, the backside of the tough guy’s pass case had an adorable Pikachu illustration on it.

“I was as shocked as if I’d gotten hit by Pikachu’s Thunderbolt attack,” says Goka Yajin, but there was one more surprise yet to come. As mentioned above, the bus charges a flat fare, so Goka Yajin already knew how much his ride would cost. Since he’d made of point of having a lot of coins on him, he had the exact amount right there in his wallet, and after thanking the tattooed man for his help, tried to reimburse him, to which his savior politely refused, saying:

“Use that money to enjoy your time in this country.”

The twin acts of unexpected kindness moved plenty of online commenters, whose reactions included:

“So coooool! I really respect people like this who just leap into action and help when they see someone in trouble, instead of worrying about ‘Well, I shouldn’t butt in on other people’s business.’”

“Now I want to be able to do things like this for foreigners who’re having problems while traveling in Japan.”

“His explanation for why he wouldn’t take your money❤”

Goka Yajin has plenty of other stories from his time abroad, enough for two separate manga volumes which are available in digital format through Amazon here, as well as an online serial running on Sunday Web Every here. His bus tale is an especially moving one, though, and proof that choosing to be nice to others in our chance encounters with them can sometimes leave happy feelings that last for a lifetime.

Source: Twitter/@gokayajin via Hachima Kiko
Images: Twitter/@gokayajin
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