I needed a break. My research kept coming back to Yamanouchi, a small village in the mountains of Japan, known for the snow monkeys that take refuge in a natural hot springs. My United flight stopped in Tokyo, making it the same price to stay a day or two as it was to flight straight back to Singapore. Lodging during the first leg of the trip had dramatically dropped when my brother offered to lend me his apartment. The single challenge was getting a reservation.
I was looking for a ryokin with staff that could speak some English. Ideally, a late arrival would not be a problem. Looking for a reservation last minute during the peak season did not help. After hours of exploring, emailing, and reading traveler blogs, I stumbled on a website with great pictures, fantastic reviews, and room! As I filled in my details I was hopeful. Within a short time the email confirmation with a reference number sealed the deal.
As I worked through the logistics, I send an email or two to the inn, asking for their advice. Given the holiday season, I did not worry about the lack of a response. It wasn’t until the driver in the van on the way to the inn asked me to speak to the Inn that I began to worry.
“We have a problem. It is all with us. We will sort it out when you arrive.”
I could not imagine what it could be. I was holding a printed copy of the second confirmation email. As I kept rereading the note, everything seemed in order.
As I sat in the lounge, one of the owners explained that their reservation system and email server were not working properly. While I had a confirmation, nothing had been recorded in their system. Whatever I thought was actually just mythology.
An old story character asked, “Do you think I feast on venison or drink draughts of goats’ blood?” (Psalm 50.13) I am reminded that checking can be a good idea, especially with strange questions and reservations.