May 18, 2012:Today was the second day of my trip. The main purpose was to help my friend in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, to purchase and set up a laptop PC. It’s only 290 kilometers (180 miles) from Osaka to Hamamatsu, half the distance I hitchhiked the day before from Niigata to Osaka, “a piece of cake!”
It was just after 9 a.m and only few minutes after arriving to the Suita Service Area of the Meishin Expressway when a young man walked close to where I was standing. He looked at me and I guessed immediately that he also was a hitchhiker! I’ve met up with other people hitchhiking, but it’s pretty rare, only a handful of people in thousands of times. The man, Mr. Sayama, was on his way to Yokohama, about twice the distance I needed to go that day.
When the Japanese people tell me that hitchhiking is uncommon in Japan, I tell them that’s why it’s so easy to do it; I have no competition! Of course I’m joking. I didn’t consider Mr. Sayama a competitor, but a potential partner in my journey.
I told Mr. Sayama that he need not worry about me. I would give him preference in case the driver was not willing to pick up more than one passenger. It turned out that we became a team! I met the first driver who took us both to Otsu Service Area in Shiga Prefecture, and Mr. Sayama met the second driver, a man from Fukuyama Hiroshima Prefecture who took me as far as Shinshiro PA before Hamamatsu, and Mr. Sayama to Gotemba. The Hiroshima man bought us all a nice lunch of Udon noodles.
From Shinshiro PA a man working for an IT company took me to Hamamatsu Station.