Travel Diaries: The Incident

I walked up to the storefront ahead of my group with a bit of excitement. The sign mentioned The Philippines, and it looked like a restaurant. At least that’s what I thought.

“Wait!”, my companion held me back. “You do NOT want to go in there. You don’t belong there, let’s just keep going”.

I took a closer look – and there it was. A sign. Filled with the faces of smiling Filipino women. As if they were a menu items.  I held my head down in shame. “No,” I said, “I definitely do not belong here.”

A few weeks later, while I was out doing an errand before work, a young man approached me.  He was shy and tried to mumble something in English. I couldn’t make sense of it. Finally, he switched to Japanese and it became apparent what he wanted. 

“Da-to wo suru?” I looked at him blankly. I thought that maybe I misunderstood. I hoped I did. I tried to say something else, and he decided to make it even more clearer: I like your body type. I want to go on a date with you. I like… Me.  Date. 

Suddenly, I recalled the menu of faces. I felt like maybe he thought I was one of them. I wasn’t sure and didn’t know. I just knew I felt really uncomfortable and had to go. I told him that I was leaving and hurried away. He followed me. 

I tried again a few times to tell him no, in English and in Japanese. He kept following me. I don’t know if it was a miscommunication or not, but I had hoped that me scurrying away or the terrified look on my face would tell him what I meant. It didn’t. I began to panic. 

It wasn’t until I walked close to a police station that he finally went away. I stood around there for a while, knowing fully well I’d be late to work. I was scared and felt alone. I had no one to go to or talk to about this incident. I finally went to work. There was a big presentation that day, and I was a part of it. Still shaken, I gathered my things and sat at my desk. I silently practiced my presentation..but every now and then I’d hear his voice “da-to wo suru?

I closed my eyes and tried to let it go, hoping that I’d never have to cross that part of town again.


Note: To be fair, this incident was the only scary and negative experience that I had in Japan. I lived and worked there for a few months, and it continues to be one of the best life experiences I have ever had. I will always be grateful for my time there. However, I thought it was important to highlight this occurrence, because it made me fear going out alone for a few weeks. Eventually, I got over it, and had a lot of wonderful adventures. I’ll be writing about those soon! 

💙,jenn photo, artist Milada Vigerova

21 thoughts on “Travel Diaries: The Incident

  1. I’m sorry that this happened to you! I’ve had a few experiences like this while traveling, and it can be really jarring and make you feel isolated. I’m glad that you were able to stay safe and that you’re sharing your experience with others!


  2. Yikes! Good thing you went by the police station. That can happen in any country to be honest. It’s something to be weary of but it shouldn’t stop us from traveling though. Just need to be careful and know where the police stations are located…just in case.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can’t imagine how you must have felt, especially in a new environment. I’m glad you were able to let it go and have some positive memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I would love to visit Japan, but it sounds like I really need to do some reading up on what area’s to stay out of first….so scary. Glad you are ok!

    Liked by 1 person

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