Japan is a great country for sightseeing and travel — if you can afford it. Transportation costs are at least double that of the USA. It costs around US $85 just to travel 300 KM (about 190 miles) by the “bullet train” (Shinkansen in Japanese). Want to save some doe and meet people? Try hitchhiking! I do and I love it!
I first came to Japan in 1972 while in the US military stationed near Tokyo. A couple years later I decided to become a missionary to the Japanese people and tell them about Jesus Christ. Missionaries need to “live by faith”. This also means to live within one’s income. I needed to travel the country to “preach the Gospel” but could not always afford public transportation. My partner and I often opted to hitchhike. We usually got to our destination that day, and if we didn’t, often the person that picked us up took us to their home where we spent the night and sometimes several days.
I wish I had kept a record of all my adventures hitchhiking in Japan. If I had, I would have a book by now which might have even been a best seller. LOL! At the very least, it would have made interesting reading for me in my old age. I’m 54 at the time of this post.
I define hitchhiking as getting rides from total strangers. Therefore it does not include rides from associates, friends or family.
What kind of people pick me up?
Kind people, unselfish people, people who care about others. Some are fond of Westerners, some study English and want to practice using it, some lived in the USA and want to repay the kindness they received from Americans, some have hitchhiked in their university days and understand people who do, some have broken hearts (often marital problems or broken love relationships) and wish to pour out their hearts to somebody, some are lonely, and some know they are prone to be sleepy driving on the expressway and wish to have someone to talk with in order to help them stay awake! Some drivers have correctly identified me as a Christian missionary even before I tell them so! They are usually the most open to hearing the Message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Bible than most Japanese. To meet such people and have an opportunity to share the Truth with them makes it worth all the discomfort of the hot sun, rain, wind and snow I sometimes face while hitchhiking.
How do I hitchhike? Read a whole page I compiled of tips!
Since August of 2003 I have been keeping statistics of my travels.
Some of my adventures
Today for the first time instead of hitchhiking on lonely Route 345 along the Sea of Japan, I took the train 25 kilometers further to Gatsugi station so I could hitchhike on Route 7 which has more traffic. It was cold but it wasn’t raining or snowing as it was the previous week. Five drivers … Continue reading
I wore my warmest coat, hat and gloves for another adventure to Aomori on a cold rainy day. I stood again for more than an hour showing passing drivers my A4 paper sign that says “Tsuruoka”. The place was on Route 345 which runs along the now turbulent Sea of Japan. For some reason there … Continue reading
October 13, 2014: Today is the first day of a major change in my life. I returned home from my trip to Aomori prefecture to an empty house. My beloved spouse has gone to America to help her daughter’s large family of 7 children. Our dog, Lady, was also not in the house but I … Continue reading
I left Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture just after 7:00 a.m. and got home in Niigata city by 2:04 p.m.! This is about as good as it gets to travel 600 km or 400 miles in only 7 hours in 5 cars with very little waiting. What’s more, the folks that picked me up made the … Continue reading
In order to save a bit more money, rather than take a train from Niigata city to Murakami, I decided to take that train only as far as Shibata. This placed me directly on Route 7 rather than Route 345 on the Sea of Japan. The last two times hitchhiking on Route 345, I had … Continue reading
February 28, Day 1 It’s the first day of a one week adventure traveling mainly by hitchhiking! I’m on my way to Kansai of which the principle cities are Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. Today’s destination was Osaka. I hitchhiked again from Niigata City to Osaka. This time I made it in record time arriving directly … Continue reading
Today was partially overcast with dark snow clouds. It snowed from time to time. Nevertheless I made it as far as Odate City in 8 vehicles. Car #2 was Mr. Kawahara who works with Honda motor company selling car parts. I may see him again at the local Home Center in March. He took me … Continue reading
February 15, 2014 According to yesterday’s weather forecast, I expected it to snow all day and was prepared to take a train from Niigata City to Hirosaki in Aomori Prefecture. But at 7:30 a.m. because the weather was fair, I decided to get off the train at Majima station and hitchhike. The traffic was sparse. … Continue reading
On a snowy morning of January 17, after a 5 minute bike ride to the local train station where I park my bicycle and from where I walk to the highway, just a few meters away from the station my right foot slipped on the snow, hit a rock in the road, and my ankle … Continue reading
This year I hitchhiked 24.048 kilometers (15,030 miles) which is 4518 kilometers more than my previous record of 19,530 kilometers in 2009! The chart below shows the years from 2005 to 2013 the distances in kilometers traveled by hitchhiking. At 15.4088 yen per kilometer on a local train, it means I saved 370,551 yen this … Continue reading