Sitting inside the tent, we were in quite a pinch. We were starting to regret our decision to pitch the tent here, as it seemed the sides were being shaken by someone outside.
Our bicycle trip north along the Japan Sea side of the main island had brought us to Akita and, although our northern heading provided more fields in the scenery, proper places to camp seemed to dwindle. The rains came, and we were fortunate enough to find a bath house dedicated to day-trippers. Unfortunately, enjoying a warm bath brought us no closer to finding a proper place to stay. However, we did come upon one place to pitch a tent.
The spot ended up being one of the garages at the bath house. The place was littered with refrigerators and other worn-out appliances, which we thought would provide good cover from being caught. Besides, it was only going to be for one night…
The tent-shaking had become more intense; the sides seemingly being kicked from the outside. We retreated to the center, but whoever was causing the ruckus didn’t seem to be alone. I made the decision to check things out—a moment in time draped with fear—armed with a bottle of cockroach repellant.
As I slowly raised the zipper and drew back the flap… I saw eight middle-aged and older ladies were standing around. They seemed to be saying something, so I rushed for my notepad.
“What are you doing in here?” was their first volley.
I replied with, “Sorry. We’re on a bike trip, and because the rain was so heavy…”
“Oh, you were just in the hot spring, right?” the old woman wrote.
I stared up at the old woman’s face holding the pen, and it came to me. She and the others all worked at the bath house.
“We’ve been calling for you to come out but, since there was no reply, we assumed we were being ignored and decided to give the tent a shake,” confessed the woman.
I explained to her, “Because we’re deaf we couldn’t hear what you were saying.”
“Well, why didn’t you say so? If you’re checking out tomorrow, feel free to use this space tonight. Sweet dreams,” replied the leader of the pack.
We ended the conversation with, “Sorry about the trouble. Thank you so much.”
Apparently before you prepare to bunk up for the night, it’s best to get permission. Everyone seemed to relax, and smiles returned to once scared faces.