August 11: Today is the last day of my road trip since last July 25th. It took only 4 vehicles from the Suita Service area in Osaka to get home. Two of the drivers went way out of their way to help me!
During the 8 days I hitchhiked in this trip, I traveled 3036 kilometers in 33 vehicles. One of them was a motorcycle! (See the August 4 post)
In the first car were two men from a paint company. The driver was really interested in me as a foreigner and asked many questions. I told him I painted a house once and he remarked that he heard many Americans like to do their own handyman work without hiring a contractor. They took me to a service area just before Kyoto city.
The second driver took me to Otsu Service area just past Kyoto. The third car was Mr. and Mrs. Itou, a newly married couple who run a Raman shop in Itami City in Hyogo. Mr. Itou at first said that he could take me only as far as Ryuo in Shiga Prefecture, but later changed his mind and took me to Taga just before the junction of the Hokuriku Expressway that runs along the Sea of Japan — the route home to Niigata. Mrs. Itou gave me her cell phone email address and we have been exchanging short emails.
After waiting only a few minutes in Taga, a man with Niigata license plates pulls up and offers me a ride! At first he said he would take me as far as Kashiwazaki, but later changed his mind and offered to take me all the way home — 60 kilometers further. I didn’t want to trouble him and said he could drop me off at Yoneyama service area just before Kashiwazaki but the driver was insistent. I then offered a compromise and asked him to take me to a train station in Sanjo from where I would take a short train ride the rest of the way. The driver agreed to that.