Guardian angel of Namba

Sometimes, you meet people that are acting on the basis of pure altruism – that you’re suspicious, because we often find it hard to believe that real people do that.

But today, as we were running around another Japanese train station, working out where to go to catch the train to Mt. Koya – this exact situation occurred.


If you’re new to Japan, the transport system is incredible vast and complex, with different types of trains, different lines and a multitude of stations.

So as Christina and I stood clueless in Namba Station, trying to find the correct train to get to Mt. Koya – this man decided to step in and help us out.


He appeared out of no where – I was looking one way, turned away, turned back and there he was – right in front of me, and simply asked ‘Koya?’

We nodded in desperation – good god, please tell us where to go.


But he did more than that.
He walked us through Namba Station – weaving through crowds and negotiating corridors – right to the platform where our connecting train was waiting.

We breathed a huge sigh of relief.

This man – who truly had no obligation to stop and help us – disappeared as mysteriously as he appeared. As we turned to thank him, incredibly grateful for his navigational guidance – he had moved on, approaching more lost travellers and giving them the assistance they required.


And from our vantage point, we watched him float around Namba station – in plain clothes and a tote bag – assisting anyone and everyone, with no expectation of anything in return.

He put a smile on our face, to see an altruistic light still very much alive, penetrating the ever-suspicious social membrane.

So here’s to the Guardian Angel of Namba Station – the hero we needed, but no the hero we deserved.


Ryan Cheng is the founder of The 88, and is passionate about telling stories surrounding travel, culture and identity.

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Instagram: @chinkinthearmour


  1. In the form of Buddhism I practice, a Japanese branch of the Nichiren School, Soka Gakkai… Shoten Zenjin are those mystical people, “functions in life and the environment that serve to protect us.” Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, I will chant for his happiness.

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