July 19: This is actually the continuation of my previous post of my adventure to Kita-karuizawa. Word Press apparently doesn’t like long posts!
Today I’m on my way back home from Shiojiri City in Nagano Prefecture. There was a low pressure area all over Japan, but except for a few drizzles of rain in the early morning in Shiojiri, it still looked OK to hitchhike.
The first driver was a single lady in her 30s named Mayumi who took me 20 kilometers to the Azusagawa Service area from where I got on the Nagano Expressway. Mayumi said that she was ill though she looked well. I inquired further and she said she hears voices in her head!! I immediately said that I am a Christian missionary and understand spiritual problems. I told Mayumi that her problem is spiritual, and not curable by drugs or medical treatment. I asked her if I may lay my hands on her head and pray for her after we get to Azusagawa. She agreed. And I told her about Jesus and we held hands while she prayed to receive Him! After that I laid my hands on her head and rebuked the evil spirit telling it to depart.
The next car was a husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Ishibashi from Mie Prefecture who were on their way to Myoko Kogen, an area famous for skiing. I told them there was no more snow, and they said they were going to escape the heat down south. Mr. Ishibashi is the president of a pharmaceutical company. I told them about meeting Mayumi and her spiritual problem. Though he runs a drug company, he agreed that drugs will not cure her!
Mr. and Mrs. Ishibashi took me to the Obuse parking area. From there a young man going to Iiyama picked me up. Ilyama is off the expressway but is on route 117 which is the shortest road back home. I knew I could get back on an expressway from Echigo Kawaguchi, and I had hoped to escape the rain because the weather was looking bad and I knew it was probably raining hard along coast of the Sea of Japan which is the route I would have taken had I stayed on the expressway.
I asked the young man to take me to a traffic light but instead he took me to a Seven Eleven convenience store where he said I could buy an umbrella. It had started to rain, not too hard, but hard enough to not want to stand waiting in it.
I went to the Seven Eleven but there were no umbrellas for sale. I then waited about 10 minutes under the covering of the store until the rain let up and started to hitchhike. A lady picked me up saying she was going only about 15 minutes up the road. I asked her to take me to a traffic light, but instead she eventually turned left at an intersection with no traffic light. It was raining hard and so I asked her to take me to a train station.
The train station is on the Iiyama line, and the next train was exactly 2 hours later! It was raining too hard to go anywhere. The train station was tiny and unmanned, but it offered shelter from the rain.
Across the street from the station was a typical Japanese shop. After waiting about 20 minutes the rain let up to the point that I could walk to the shop where I hoped would have an umbrella for sale. The shop owner didn’t look too pleased to see me and said she didn’t sell umbrellas. I saw several umbrellas that previous customers left in the umbrella holder outside the store and asked if I couldn’t take one. She said it was fine! Now I had some protection from the rain and walked back to the main highway.
Hitchhiking on a lonely country road in the midst of the mountains of Nagano on a rainy day is not a desirable situation. I was glad at least it wasn’t cold. The cars whizzed past me splashing water as they went. The drivers seemed to care less about my plight. But I knew it was only a matter of time. After about half an hour, a family going to Tokamachi picked me up. Tokamachi is still 100 kilometers from home, but I took a train the rest of the way back. It continued to rain hard intermittently.