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
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 →
October 25, 2013: My destination was Aomori City, 470 kilometers from home. I hitchhiked from Murakami City as far as Sakata City in Yamagata Prefecture, a distance about 90 kilometers. After that I had to abort due to rain. It was worth the effort! Mrs. Fujiwara picked me up for … Continue reading →
From October 4th to 6th over three days I traveled in 15 cars 1358 kilometers or 849 miles passing through Tokyo to Hamamatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture, and then to Osaka, and then back home to Niigata. Total transportation costs was 590 yen, about $6.00. The trip was one of … Continue reading →
The other day, (September 13, 2013) I ran into a man at a park who said he picked me up hitchhiking during Spring this year! HIs name is Katsuhiro Itoh. He took me from Sakae parking near Sanjo City to Echigokawaguchi SA. He told me he checked out this website … Continue reading →
I hitchhiked some 300 kilometers in 3 cars to the Shangri-La mountainous wonderland if Japan, Nagano Prefecture, the source of the longest river in Japan, Shinano. Some of the beautiful people who picked me up: … Continue reading →
Trip Highlights: I hitchhiked 1077 kilometers from Niigata to Osaka and back and though I was out for 4 days, I spent less than $15 US. for food and a short train and bus help me on my way Got rides to areas only walking distance to the places I … Continue reading →
Carrying an umbrella in one hand while riding my bicycle through heavy rain, I road 15 minutes to the local train station to catch a train just after 6 a.m. It was imperative for me to travel to the city of Aomori, 470 kilometers to the north, and I intended … Continue reading →
Highlights of this trip: Had to wait 2 hours and 40 minutes for the first ride! But the next 2 cars picked me up relatively quick and I arrived at my destination in Tokyo (300 kilometers from Niigata) on time. The third and final car to Tokyo took me exactly … Continue reading →