Check out these 7 Lessons I learned when I missed my Willer Express Bus from Tokyo to Osaka. During my first solo trip to Japan, I knew already that I need to be ready when travel mishaps happen. One of these was missing my Willer Express Bus overnight ride from Tokyo to Osaka. How did it happen?
How I Missed My Willer Express Bus Overnight Ride from Tokyo to Osaka?
If you remember my story about ‘How Can a Poor Filipina Afford to Travel?‘, somehow, I blamed the Dutch guy for that as he didn’t care my schedule even though I told him ahead of time that I will go to Osaka. Few hours before my schedule, he was still flirting with a Japanese teenager. You know, asking where the train station is when in fact, I can manage to find it without a pocket Wi-Fi. As of this writing, I wanna roll my eyes remembering this.
We were able to reach our hostel while I was hurrying packing up some of my things. I thought it was fine, I was too relaxed. Until I lost my way of going to the bus station, I thought it was just a walking distance but no. I hailed a taxi and paid 730 JPY. Reached the Willer Express bus station, but guess what? My bus already left.
My cousin in Osaka bought the ticket for me. It was written in Japanese and not in English so I was confused. But if I went there earlier or two hours ahead of my departure, it won’t happen. In short, I was late. Check out on Wikipedia.
Lesson Learned #1: Be always on time because Japan is always on time. Treat the bus station like an airport, be there 2 hours ahead of time.
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What To Do Next?
When I learned that I miss my bus, I asked the staff if I could book the next bus schedule. She said that it was fully booked so I had no choice but to book it the next day as early as 8:30 AM. I asked permission to use the computer of the Willer Bus Express station if I could book it myself. Imagine, I had no cash on hand already so I could not pay the receptionist in cash. Good thing that they have an online booking so I used my debit card. The bus fare cost 6000 JPY. It’s cheaper if you book it a few weeks earlier. Go to their website here.
I sent a message to my cousin through Facebook that I missed my bus. Told them the new schedule that I would arrive in the evening the next day. I never cared how much I paid because it was my fault so I had to be in Osaka ASAP.
Lesson Learned #2: When traveling solo, always have backup cash or fund either a debit card or a credit card.
Lesson Learned #3: Communication is key. Inform your point of contact what just happened to you.
Learn how to use Tokyo Metro: Subways, Trains, and Buses
Stranded and Homeless in the Streets of Shinjuku for Real
I thought that I could sleep overnight at the Willer Bus Express station but I was wrong. They close in the evening until the last bus departs from Tokyo to somewhere. So I was worried about where to go. I went out of the bus station and I was really clueless. Tokyo is so big and this little girl like me was really lost. Felt like I was in a movie, Lost in Translation. I’m worse than the movie. Literally lost in translation in Tokyo.
The streets were empty and it was midnight. I couldn’t go back to my hostel anymore as the train station already closed as well after midnight. Don’t want to take a taxi because I had no money. I was homeless. Don’t know if I should cry or not.
Lesson Learned #4: Whatever happens, don’t panic. Stay calm!
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A Japanese Guy Helped Me Along The Way
Brought my luggage with me and felt like I was a crazy person mumbled to myself in Cebuano.
“Solo travel pa more? Dah mao ni ron late ka lage.”
Solo travel pa more? This is what happens when you’re late. I laughed at myself of what happened. Then a Japanese guy walked along the way and noticed that I was a mess.
“Excuse me, do you need help?” asked the Japanese guy.
“Yes, I really don’t know where to sleep because I missed my bus going to Osaka. Do you know any place where I can stay for a night?” I replied as quick as possible.
He grabbed my heavy stuff and lead me the way going to a Manga Cafe. When I learned that staying there for few hours is at least 1800 JPY, I don’t have money.
“Do you know any 24-hour McDonald’s here in Shinjuku?” I asked immediately because I don’t want to spend any money.
He brought me to McDonald’s and told the staff in Japanese that I was stranded and needed a place to stay. He bought some coffee in courtesy of bringing someone there. I bought a cup of coffee as well. Maybe that was 100 JPY. I forgot but that’s the only money I could afford to spend.
I was very thankful that he helped me. Got his English name and told me it was Eugene. I lost his e-mail address because my iPad had a re-format after few months. But I could not forget that Japanese guy, named Eugene, for helping me. I am forever grateful.
Lesson Learned #5: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Related Article: How to Prepare for your First Solo trip to Japan
Sleeping at 24-Hour McDonald’s in Shinjuku
I felt relieved when I found a place to stay for a night where I feel safe. I remember when a friend gave me a tip about sleeping at McDonald’s. Inside the store, I saw old people and young people who just stayed at McDonald’s to sleep. I couldn’t sleep because it was too uncomfortable.
At 3 AM, we had to get out for a while as they needed to clean the place. I went out to the nearest Mini Mart and glad they had Wi-Fi. Was able to connect on Facebook. Posted a status of what just happened and what it felt like to be homeless in Tokyo, Japan. Wow! What an experience?
After 30 minutes, I went back inside McDonald’s to take a little nap. I set my alarm at 6 AM as my bus will depart at 8:30 AM. I have to be 2 hours before departure. So I just walked from McDonald’s back to Willer Express Bus station. My sense of direction is really good but I just have a problem with time.
Arrived at the bus station but it was still close. I looked like a homeless person when I decided to take a seat on the stairs and nap for a little bit. Yes, that was outside. Just imagine a person sleeping in the streets with all her luggage and other stuff, that’s how I looked like.
After 30 minutes, the bus station opened so I went inside. I kept on looking on my boarding pass for my schedule because I was afraid that I could miss it again. Please, never again!
Lesson Learned #6: Always do your research first upon getting around Tokyo, going to the train and bus stations or you’ll get lost.
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My Experience of the Willer Bus Express Going to Osaka
It was 10 hours from Tokyo to Osaka. I was able to sleep a little bit but I decided to see what was outside. Was hoping to see Mount Fuji but no. There was a small TV screen which I enjoyed the Live Action movie of Hentai Kamen. Even though there was no English subtitle in the movie, I still enjoyed watching it because I was able to read the manga.
Going to Osaka has several stops so you have the convenience of going to the toilet and buy food when you’re hungry along the road. I never felt bored although I was alone. Although I see Japanese couple students just holding hands inside the bus. So sweet!
Despite what happened, I was still smiling. I just laughed when I arrived in Osaka and glad to see my cousin, her husband, and my nieces. Finally, I made it to Osaka.
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Lesson Learned #7: Just laugh at everything whatever travel mishaps happened to you and take it as a lesson and an experience.
Time to Experience Sushi in Osaka
Arrived in the evening having dinner – sushi festival!
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#InstaFrame It was Sunday of May 24, 2015 I missed my overnight bus to #Osaka so I had no choice but slept at McDonald's. Good thing a Japanese guy helped me. The next day I took the bus in the morning from #Shinjuku and arrived Osaka in the evening. I was welcomed with my Japanese family with #Sushi #food #Festival. Lol it was my first time and i loved it. I just learned how to eat sushi the Japanese way. I used to have a small appetite but in Japan i'm having a big appetite already. I was expecting to gain weight but i found out i still weigh 42kgs. I was eating a lot in Japan. Lol #foodtripinJapan (^__^)
Just a Recap: 7 Lessons I Learned When I Missed My Willer Express Bus from Tokyo to Osaka
- #1: Be always on time because Japan is always on time. Treat the bus station like an airport, be there 2 hours ahead of time.
- #2: When traveling solo, always have backup cash or fund either a debit card or a credit card.
- #3: Communication is key. Inform your point of contact what just happened to you.
- #4: Whatever happens, don’t panic. Stay calm!
- #5: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- #6: Always do your research first upon getting around Tokyo, going to the train and bus stations or you’ll get lost.
- #7: Just laugh at everything whatever travel mishaps happened to you and take it as a lesson and an experience.
What have you learned from my travel mishaps? Do you have anything to add? Share your comment below.
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Roxanne is an aspiring digital nomad. A virtual assistant since October 2009. She is a hobbyist blogger, photographer and travels a lot.