Kyoto & Osaka

July 14, 2009 at 10:54 pm Leave a comment

Yesterday I hitchhiked back to Tokyo after spending a week in Kyoto and Osaka.

I recon I saved about $300 by using cs for accommodation and hitchhiking. In Kyoto, my host was Shoji, a Japanese farmer who set up a house for his guests and has hosted over 250 since he began last year. There was a Danish couple, 4 Belgians, and two French girls staying there besides me.

The cs house is a traditional Japanese house (not a condominium in a building) and Shoji’s walls are covered with graffiti left by his guests. My contribution was not so nice… (one of those times when I should of stopped closer to when I began)

Kyoto is a very small city compared to Tokyo and famous for its temples. But I visited only a few. For one, I had trouble waking up early. And two, I am navigationally retarded. And being that this is the end of my trip… i feel tired of being a tourist. I just wanted to sit somewhere and read…

In Osaka I stayed with a Canadian guy and his roommates. I’ve been thinking about going to Montreal later this year but hearing my host’s story about hitchhiking the width of Canada made me desirous of such a trip. Perhaps my unemployed (anyone looking to hire someone with great analytical ability, sense of humour and a BA in economics?) brother could join me.

I decided to return to Kyoto rather than hitchhike directly from Osaka. If I wasn’t alone I would have traversed the complicated highway system from Osaka, but being that the navigational part of my brain is on holiday I thought it better to take the simpler route. I figured that if I start hitching on the expressway that goes directly to Tokyo it would be easier to find rides going in my direction.

I woke up at 5:30am and decided I needed 10 more minutes… and kept extending this decision until it was 7am. (I was tired because i had gone to sleep around 3am because I wanted to finish my host’s Murakami book which I had started the night before)

I was on the train to Kyoto by 8:30. Somewhere near the main train station there was a bus I needed to take to the expressway and this bus only ran once an hour. It passed me as I got to the bus area so I had to wait until 9:54 for the next one.

When the bus driver told me to get off, I expected to see a service area not an entrance to the expressway for the cars. So i wondered around seeking a good place to hitch (even walking along the entrance itself to the toll booths). One employee of the booths suggested I walk back to the gas station  and try from there. She and the other Japanese man who tried to help me by drawing a big sign that said “Going to —” knew all about hitchhiking.

Of course any experienced hitchhiker would have known to start from the gas station…

I managed 6 rides within 5 hours. But these barely took me 200 km! Some people were nice and smiled as they signaled that they were going a different way, but some people refused to even open their windows when I knocked on their car. Did I look more untrustworthy than I did 1 week ago?

Of the 6 drivers I had only one was a woman. She was going with her husband to the mountains in time for the blooming of the flowers. They were a couple in their 60s with grown children. They spoke English well.

The last of the 6 were two engineers, both married with children. And yet they seemed like 2 boys fresh out of college (but more innocent and humble then America’s graduates). I sat in their car, weary and tired. Before letting me go they said that they had an idea. They were going to get me a ride to Tokyo. By looking at the license plates they could tell which ones were from Tokyo (I had tried to do this too but asking people proved simpler).

And that’s how I got my last ride, the one that took me all the way to Tokyo, all 350 km. He may have been mildly retarded but he was kind. I left him a little Buddha another driver had given me in Thailand as a symbol of my gratitude.

As close as i got to Mt. Fuji...

He went out of his way for me. I only asked him to deposit me near any train station in Tokyo and I thought he understood… but I had make the mistake of telling him my final destination and it stuck in his mind. He called his friends for advice on how to get me there while I tried desperately to explain that it wasn’t important. But the dictionary I had did not translate the word “any” in the way I needed and the poor guy couldn’t shake off his confusion.

School girls in a Kyoto train station

Osaka at night


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: , , , , .

Tokyo Finally uploaded to youtube!

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