My first hitchhiking experience was in Japan. For me it sounded as a logical choice, travelling in Japan is expensive and it is one of the safest countries in the world. However when I arrived in Japan people declared me mad. Japanese are very reserved and most of them don’t even know what hitchhiking is, so they told me it is impossible to hitchhike.
Start of the adventure
During my stay in Tokyo I did some research online. I discovered what should be the best starting place for my hitchhiking journey, and I grabbed some cardboard from shops in Akihabara. The hostel wrote down Kyoto for me on the cardboard so that I was ready to go.
In the morning I went excited but also a bit scared to my hitchhike spot. It was a bit of a struggle to reach the place by climbing over fences but in the end I arrived at a parking lot next to the highway. A lot of trucks were passing through this parking lot, only not that many cars. So I was a bit afraid if this was really the best spot to start my new adventure. Luckily enough I had my first ride within 20 minutes.
During the ride there wasn’t a lot of talking going on, the language barrier was too high. But he took me to a stop just outside of Tokyo, with a much larger parking lot and some restaurants and shopping around as well. Also from here it went quite smoothly. Within 15 minutes I had my next ride from a nice couple who was really interested in my journey and had a lot of delicious food to share.
This couple took me all the way to Toyota and dropped me off at a decent drop off point. It wasn’t as big as the stop in Tokyo but still enough people were coming and going from this place. However after an hour I still didn’t catch a ride and I was getting worried. It was getting dark and what if I didn’t catch a ride before it got dark. So I made a new plan, grabbed an extra piece of cardboard, search on my map how you write Osaka in Japanese and wrote this down. I asked some people around if they could read the name and it was alright.
He was amzingly friendly…
So now I had two cardboards, one to Osaka and one to Kyoto. After 30 minutes finally a young guy (end 20’s) stopped and offered me a ride all the way to Kyoto. He even dropped me off in the centre not too far from the hostel where I would sleep. He was amazingly friendly, and very interested in the Western culture.
This was my first experience with hitchhiking and I love it. It is quite scary because you are never sure if you would make it to your final destination, but it also let you meet so many wonderful people. And as long as if you are flexible this is a way of travelling that I would definitely recommend people to do. Only make sure you have cardboard with you and write the places where you want to go in the local language. This saves you a lot of trouble, especially in a country where they are not familiar with hitchhiking.