Hitchhiking across Japan

[Archive] In 2002 after having lived in Japan for one year I was ready
to go back to the USA. Before leaving Japan I wanted to see more of
the country and get a feel for what Japan looked like outside of Tokyo
and Osaka.

Its looks very different! Tokyo and Osaka really doesn’t represent
what Japan is as a country. For one, most of Japan is covered in
green. Seeing trees every where I went was shocking for me. Before
coming to Tokyo I assumed Japan was a glass metropolis of neon lights.
That describes Tokyo and to a lessor extent Osaka, but not so for
other parts of the country.

I started my hitchhiking in Tokyo and ended in Sapporo, taking a ferry
from Aomori to Sapporo. I don’t remember how long it took but I want
to say 3 weeks. I hitchhiked in the middle of summer, which made the
area around Sendai uncomfortable when standing in the middle of paved
roads wondering when someone was going to stop. But as I got closer to
Sapporo the weather was cool and enjoyable.

To hitchhike I bought this book. Highly recommended if you want to try
yourself. http://bit.ly/9XvBRY The author recommended I try hard to look western, so that’s why many
of the shots have me wearing a Yankees hat and a white t-shirt.

Most of the time I stood on the road drivers laughed at me. The people
who picked me up also laughed at me but they usually took two or three
turns around before they realized I was seriously looking for a ride.
The vast majority of drivers who stopped had a interest in foreigners
and speaking English even when they couldn’t say a word of it.

My most memorable experiences include:

  • Having a strange guy pick me up then make a stop in his house to pickup a package that looked very much like a wrapped up gun. After he dropped me off he gave me a rare 500 yen coin, which I still have saved.
  • Going to Goishi Beach to collect the same stones historically used to play Go http://staff.aist.go.jp/sudo-gsj/sand/english/D-1636.html
  • Staying in a Buddhist temple on a Island with a larger population of sacred deer than humans.