Christmas lights. Cool cider breeze. Ramen. Shoji and fancy wood. Crimson leaves.

With a soft smile and a deep exhale, I lean back against the shinkansen chair and mentally list down the things I was grateful for. It really wasn’t that difficult when everything was going great. My favorite travel destination during my favorite season with some of my favorite people. How can I not give thanks?

I go back to that moment 3 hours later when we find ourselves in the wrong train station, lost and undecided about where to go next. Because we were in a provincial town, the stops were scarce. The next train would come by in 50 minutes.

We were tourists in a foreign land with an itinerary, looking at wasting away 50 minutes doing nothing inside the train station.

Taking off my chili red coat, I made my way towards Cathy who was sitting by the stairs. Without saying anything, I wrapped my arms around her as she fiddled with her camera.

I took another look at the scene we were in: an open train station in the middle of near-nowhere with nobody but us. Jade sitting on the waiting bench beside her husband. Mimi in all black, just strolling around. A vast expanse of land to the west and bicycles neatly lined up in a row to the east. Along the tracks were splatters of leaves turning scarlet and mustard – a sight we tropic-dwellers rarely get to see.


I reach for my sour grape gummies – the ones I hoard whenever I visit this country. I think of how grateful I was to have them so accessible in that moment, that I could eat as much of them as I want at any time.

Softly, I whisper to she-with-the-camera, “it’s still so beautiful, isn’t it?

We could stay here doing absolutely nothing and everything we look at would still be utterly beautiful. We could stay here just taking slow breaths and we still have so many things to be grateful for.”

With an obliging smile, she leaned over and showed me photos she had taken from the past day.

Crimson leaves. Us laughing at the cool cider breeze. The Yatai where we had our first trip-ramen. Traditional houses in all their Shoji glory. Rows and rows of trees.

And then, some more.

Jade and Raylin couple photos. Mimi in black boots and furry scarves. Grass fields and parked bicycles. Moments from several minutes earlier, in that very train station, looking like they were straight out of a postcard.

I smile wide, all bright, and breathe in deep.

I breathe in His goodness, His kindness, His beauty, His sovereignty.

50 minutes of doing absolutely nothing, stuck in a Japanese train station. How often do I get to do nothing? How often do I get to be stuck in a Japanese train station?

What grace. How can I not give thanks?

Then I hear it thrum in my soul, quiet but clear – “At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father” (Eph. 5:20).

To be lost. To be here. All mundane. All beautiful.

Echoes of God’s glory just the same.

All photos are taken by me, shot on film
Camera: Nikon FM10
Film used: Kodak Ultramax 400, Lomography CN 800

You can find another story of our Japan [mis]adventures here. 🙈

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