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"Japanese people never pick up hitchhikers"

Written on: Monday March 5th, 2012

A journal entry from: November 2011 until...

I recently had a conversation with a man here. He said, "Japanese people never pick up hitchhikers." My Japanese isn't good enough to know whether it was meant ironically, but I don't think it was. He had just picked me up from just outside Matsushima. I told him that I hadn't been waiting long. In fact his was the very first car that came after I stuck my thumb out.

By the time he dropped me off in the next town (Ishinomaki) it was dark and rainy, I didn't have a sign to say where I was going, I was wearing black, there wasn't good street lighting on the road or any obvious places to stop. I had to wait for about 5 minutes for my next lift. After checking whether I was in a rush, Abe san took a little detour to his family-owned chemist, introduced me to his wife, daughters and granddaughters there, plied me with refreshments and then we 'continued' on our way with a couple of his granddaughters - I assumed he was giving them a lift somewhere. It was only near the end of our journey together that I realised that Abe san had just been heading home and was the only reason that we were continuing the 40km to Minamisanriku was to give me a lift home. Thanks Abe san!

I had spent the day in Matsushima, which is one of the 'three beautiful views' in Japan. It was cold and rainy, but the Community Learning Centre where I am working is only closed on Mondays - last Monday there was heavy snow all day and so I was feeling a bit of cabin fever and was determined to get away.

As you can see in the photos, there was no let-up in the weather - I'll have to get back to Matsushima some time - it was beautiful in a cold, snowy way, and I'm sure would be more so if it was clear and sunny.