Sunday, May 20, 2012: Today was the last day of my trip and my return to home. The challenge was to hitchhike 600 kilometers (about 400 miles), the same distance I traveled on day one of my journey, but this time I would be crossing Tokyo. It’s not easy to cross Tokyo by hitchhiking, I usually take the train. Today I was successful.
After waiting a whole hour at Mikatahara PA next to Hamamatsu, a young man approached me and offered me a ride. His name is Yusuke and he was with his girlfriend, Noriko. It’s not too often that young single couples pick me up; they consist of only 3% of the total.
Yusuke and Noriko, both from Nagoya, were going mountain climbing that day and would be getting off the expressway at Shizuoka city. They offered to take me as far as the Fujikawa Service area. From Fujikawa there is a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji in good weather.
After close to another hour of waiting, a truck driver from Kure City in Hiroshima Prefecture offered me a ride as far as Kawasaki which is near Tokyo! Truck drivers are only 6% of the total of people who pick me up, and a truck driver on the expressway is probably less than half that percentage. He was a friendly guy, and quite intelligent compared to many truck drivers I’ve ridden with. He urged me not to return home to Niigata that day but to spend the night in Tokyo so I could see the total solar eclipse the next day, Monday May 21! “I can’t,” I replied, “I’ve got to be home by evening. We have a little dog that goes crazy with loneliness when nobody is around! If I don’t return home tonight, there won’t be anybody home to care for her!” The truck driver replied, “You’re going to miss an opportunity that happens only once in a lifetime for a dog!”
The truck driver took me to Kokuho PA in Kawasaki. I had thought to walk to a train station from there and take trains to cross Tokyo to get to the Kanetsu expressway, but changed my mind thinking I might not only save money but time if I could catch a ride to some place in Saitama. It paid off. A married couple saw my Niigata sign and offered to take me to Narimasu station on the Tobu Tojo line! Great! From Narimasu it was only a short train ride to a station near the Miyoshi service area on the Kanetsu expressway, the highway home.
From Miyoshi SA 3 more vehicles took me back to Niigata. One was a couple from Brazil. Non-Japanese who pick me up are only 2% of the total of 2407 drivers who picked me up since I’ve been keeping statistics from August 2003.