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.
- 1 What kind of people pick me up?
- 2 Some of my adventures
- 3 A Conversation with a Flat-Earther
- 4 Night View of Cherry Blossoms
- 5 First Hitchhiking Adventure of 2016 from Niigata City
- 6 My First Hitchhiking Adventure of 2016
- 7 Chart of 10 years of Hitchhiking
- 8 November 2015 Adventure Hitchhiking to Aomori Prefecture
- 9 James Japan on another Journey
- 10 The hitchhiker’s woe: Leaving valuables in the vehicle
- 11 First Hitchhike Adventure of 2015: Niigata to Osaka
- 12 Year 2014 – A record year for hitchhiking
- 13 December 12, 2014 Adventure to Hirosaki
- 14 December 5, 2014 Hitchhike Adventure to Aomori
- 15 October 10, 2014 Hitchhike Adventure to Aomori
- 16 Six hundred kilometer hitchhike trip home in record time
- 17 Adventure to Aomori via a new route
- 18 February – March 2014 Adventure in Kansai
- 19 February 26, 2014 Hitchhike Adventure to Aomori
- 20 Mid Winter Hitchhike Adventure to Aomori
- 21 2014 Winter Hitchhike Adventure to Osaka
- 22 End of Year 2013 Hitchhiking Stats
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
Brother J, do you believe the earth is flat? Some of my friends do. What is your view on it? Yes I think it’s flat May I ask why you think so? Mathematically, scientifically, conspiratorially, and biblically. You can pick any one lol I was raised in the Midwest USA. … Continue reading →
I went by bicycle to a park an hour from home and took the photos below with a Nikon D50 camera (not mine) and a tripod (mine) with slow shutter speeds as slow as 5 seconds. … Continue reading →
On March 4th, 2016 I hitchhiked 100 kilometers or about 60 miles to the city of Tokamachi. It is a city in the midst of hills. The Shinano River which is the longest river in Japan flows through Tokamachi. It’s called “Shinano” for that was the old name of Nagano … Continue reading →
On January 31, 2016 I hitchhiked from the Hanawa service area in Akita Prefecture on the Tohoku Expressway back home to Niigata city. My friend Keiji who is from Akita Prefecture was amazed that I made the 505 kilometer (316 miles) trip in a single day. To be honest I … Continue reading →
The chart shows how many kilometers I hitchhiked every year for the last 10 years. Only the first year of 2005 doesn’t show accurately how far I hitchhiked that year for I started keeping records from August 2, 2005. The total distance to date is 223,042 kilometers. over a period … Continue reading →
On November 21, 2015, I hitchhiked in 9 cars from Gatsugi in Murakami City, Niigata Prefecture, to Hirosaki in Aomori, a distance of 330 kilometers of about 206 miles. This trip was so unusual that I feel compelled to document it in this post. The first car was from Murakami … Continue reading →
Dear friends and followers of this website, On April 6th I left my home in Niigata City and traveled to Noda city in Chiba prefecture which is just to the northeast of Tokyo. It was the first day of an extended trip which will last till the end of April. … Continue reading →
My hitchhiking adventure to Aomori on March 6, 2015 was both wonderful and traumatic! Wonderful in that it was on a day of good warm weather with relatively little waiting for the next car. Traumatic in that I left my suitcase in car number 7, and my tablet PC in … Continue reading →
January 16, 2015: I had been intending for months to visit my good American friend from the State of Arkansas, Roger. I’ve especially been meaning to tell him about my new understanding of the 70th Week of Daniel! He lives in the big city of Osaka, Japanese second largest city. … Continue reading →
The graph shows distances hitchhiked from 2005 to the present. In 2014 I hitchhiked 28,352 kilometers (17,720 miles). That’s 4304 kilometers or 2690 miles more than year 2013– a record to date! The older I get, the easier it is to catch a ride! :-) … Continue reading →
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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … 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 … Continue reading →