Camera Bags on a Train; Moron on the Platform

I once left my camera bag on a train. Unfortunately, I got it back a few days later with everything intact.

In 2000, a few months after I moved to Tokyo, I joined a photography class run by Andy Barker–who has a terrific photo book about Kamakura, if you can find it. After a photoshoot, a group of us were riding back to Shinjuku station and, for various complicated reasons, I was carrying two bags. I set my camera bag on the overhead rack, talked with fellow students, and then got off the train in Shinjuku.

I was half way up the stairs when I realized I’d left my camera bag on the train.

Now, the smart thing to do would have been to hop on a faster train that would have put me ahead of the train my camera bag was on. I could have then easily walked over and plucked it off the rack with only minor inconvenience.

However, if you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that “the smart thing” is rarely my first choice in most situations.

Instead, my Japanese travel companion led me to the station master’s office where I described my bag and its contents, what car it was in and what time I’d arrived. They then informed other stations whose workers, in theory, actually boarded the train to find my camera bag.

Instead, I went home without my camera bag, my camera and my cellphone. I called my provider and had my cellphone disabled and started deciding what camera I was going to buy to replace the one I’d lost.

A couple days later, we got a call from Japan Rail explaining the bag had been found and that I needed to come pick it up . Unfortunately, I was working that night and She Who Must Be Obeyed went to get it. I gave her a detailed list of contents and she pondered it and went “Why do you need so much crap?” (or maybe it was “You owe me” or something like that.)

She was able to retrieve the bag despite her being a Japanese woman whilst the owner of the bag being an American man.

Nothing was missing and I had to delay my camera purchase. I remain surprised that I got everything back in one piece.

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