All the traveling eventually took its toll on my suitcase. I lugged it around South America for a month, and two years after I took it out of storage and stuffed it with clothes for Japan. It didn't show any signs of damage until we reached Kyoto. Its wheels started wobbling as I was hauling the bag uphill to our accommodation in Sannen-zaka and finally broke when we arrived in Takayama. We weren't even halfway to our inn when it happened. There wasn't a cab in sight so D had to drag that heavy, wheelless luggage for almost a kilometer. I was cringing in embarrassment yet laughing so hard because of how hilarious the whole thing was.
We roamed the neighborhood to look for a replacement, but we couldn't find a store that sells inexpensive luggage. We returned to the inn and explained our predicament to the guy who was manning the front desk. He was extremely helpful. He directed us to two nearby thrift stores, 2nd Street and Santa, where we could find second hand suitcases. He even drew a map so we'd know exactly where to go.
Santa has everything you can think of--kitchenware, bags, clothes, washing machines, shovels, vinyl, furniture, record players, the works. There we found a cheap yet ancient Mickey Mouse hardcase that was huge, looked a bit battered, and weighed a ton. We bought it anyway. Curious as to what the other store has to offer, we then walked to 2nd Street. It was five times bigger than Santa! Thrilled and overwhelmed, I succumbed to the lure of shopping and returned to the inn with four beautiful handbags.
Everytime I look at my ancient yet astonishingly sturdy suitcase, I am reminded of that shopping adventure we had in Japan.