Hitchhiking in Japan with Mr. Fuji So I was standing on the side of the road in the mountains of Japan’s Shikoku Island in the middle of spring 2004. I was hitch-hiking the 88 temple Kabo Daishi pilgrimage, and a mini-van nearly ran me over as it quickly stopped to offer me a lift. I [...]
Hitchhiking in Japan with Mr. Fuji
So I was standing on the side of the road in the mountains of Japan’s Shikoku Island in the middle of spring 2004. I was hitch-hiking the 88 temple Kabo Daishi pilgrimage, and a mini-van nearly ran me over as it quickly stopped to offer me a lift. I was not in any position to be overly critical about a particular driver’s navigational ability, as I needed a ride on to the next temple. So I jumped into the van and introduced myself to the driver.His name was Mr. Fuji, and was a middle aged Japanese man with long bushy eyebrows that stuck up out of his forehead like butterfly antennae. He was a really short man and could not have been 5 ft tall, as he has to really stretch to push on the pedals- and this he could only do with the tips of his toes. But Mr. Fuji seemed friendly enough, even though my attempts at conversation fell a little fallow. So I remained silent as we tore back onto the highway and through the beautiful mountains of Shikoku.
50, 60, 70, 100, 130- the speedometer needle continued to rise. We were now flying along the mountain highway at nearly 140 km per hour on the wrong side of the road! Mr. Fuji seemed undaunted about passing other vehicles on hairpin turns and unafraid to push an oncoming car onto to the shoulder to avoid an eminent head-on collision. I was in shock- I have been in crazy rides before, but never with a middle-aged, proper looking Japanese man! We continued on like this through the mountains, as Mr.Fuji began grunting loudly and slapping himself in the face.
“I Desu Ka?”- are you alright?- I tentatively asked, as I was fearfully peaking from the road to my driver who was in some sort of agony. He just continued grunting and slapping himself. I checked my seatbelt and looked out the side-view window at the cliff falling sharply below us.
Mr. Fuji then floored his van as he swerved across the oncoming lane of traffic and grindnd us to a halt just outside of a roadside rest-stop. He then jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran full speed into the bathroom.
A few moments went by, as I sat in the van with little clue what I should do. I was pondering making a break for it when Mr. Fuji returned with a Coca-Cola in hand, which he promptly presented to me as a gift once he climbed back into the van. I took his gift joyfully, and we chatted good-heartedly as we re-entered the highway.
Mr. Fuji was now a prime example of the tame-driving, polite talking, Japanese man that I have met all up and down his country.
When nature calls . . .
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
December 4, 2007
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3679 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Papa Bay, Hawaii
July 13, 2013, 3:33 am
Hey there! What a fun story, I’m doubting to cycle- or hitchhike the 88temple-route, did it went well hitch-hiking? how long did it take you to get around the island and was it easy to catch a ride? I did my fair bit of hitch-hiking, I went from Tokyo around Hokkaido and back and also a fair bit of cycling, I cycled from Holland to Japan haha, but I just wanted to ask if the 88temple-route worked out well hitch-hiking? thanks, sjakoera
Next post: Buy a DVD and Support Grupo Alavio
Previous post: Graffiti in Portugal: The Other Side of the Wall