Transport is very expensive across Japan. If you really want to cut the costs, you could always try hitchhiking Japan instead. Below we have set out a rough guide to help you. We will, show you how we managed to hitchhike from Tokyo all the way to Hiroshima, whilst saving over £500.
Tokyo to Kyoto/ Osaka
Leave Tokyo City – The first step is to get out of Tokyo city. This step is dependent on where you are staying, but first, you have to make your way to Fujigaoka Station. The address is 2 Chome Fujigaoka, Aoba-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 227-0043. The cost will be between ¥450-500 to get from Tokyo city to Fujigaoka.
Walk to PA – You will need to walk 20 minutes South to the PA (Parking area, also known as service station). to hitch from. The route is easy enough to follow, especially if you have Maps.me. Here is the route below.
Hitch a Ride to Nagoya – When you get to the PA, you may need to jump over a fence. Unfortunately for us, the gate was closed that day. If you don’t fancy the climb, you will have to walk all the way around. We waited at this PA for around 30 minutes. Many cars drove past us with an embarrassed smile, although we continued to persist until someone stopped. Eventually we were picked up by a young man in his 20s. After a few hours drive, we waved goodbye to out first hitch in Nagoya. First hitchhiking Japan challenge sorted!
Nagoya to Kyoto – Nagoya is a large city so we recommend trying to get to here; even if your driver is not going to Kyoto/ Osaka. The chances of your driver going all the way from Tokyo to Kyoto is very unlikely. So break up the journey in Nagoya. If it is too late in the day, you are certain to find accommodation nearby. Luckily, we managed to hitch from Tokyo all the way to Kyoto in one day, across multiple different trips. If you only manage to get to Nagoya and wish to continue on, towards Osaka/Kyoto, start your hitch at the large and very popular Kariya PA down.
Arrive – We chanced upon a young couple with 3 small children. Our journey was very memorable as we spent the entire trip teaching the children English and watching English videos on their IPad. The family was so kind enough to go out their way to take us directly to our hotel in Kyoto, despite the fact they were heading to Osaka!!
Hitchhiking Kyoto – Hiroshima
Get to the the Hitch point – To get from Kyoto to Hiroshima, you will need to take the train to Ibaraki station. From Ibaraki station, you can take a short bus journey to the expressway entrance. Bus number 171 stops just down the road from the entrance. However, do consult google maps for updated bus routes and schedule or ask someone at the bus station.
Wait for a Ride – This place maybe a little difficult to find a ride – but try to persevere. We spent about 1 hour waiting until someone finally picked us up. The difficultly is for drivers to see you clear enough and have the chance to stop to pick you up. To our luck, a man parked up a little further ahead and walked back to us to offer us a ride. This man was so incredibly generous. He took us directly to our hotel in Hiroshima, despite his location being outside of the city. It’s true what they say about Japan. The people are very kind and friendly despite the language barrier.
Hitchhiking Japan Tips
- Be open to making multiple stops – The chances of making the journey all in one go is highly unlikely. If someone stops for you, that is heading in the correct directions. Take the lift and ask the driver to drop you off at the nearest large PA.
- Make a sign – Just holding out your thumb may not be sufficient. People want to know where you’re heading. Make a sign with your destination written on in both English and Japanese.
- Use maps.me – This navigation app has been a life saver. Use it to help you pin point your destinations or find PA stations.
- Always wear a smile – Make sure to be smiley. After all, no one wants to pick up an unfriendly stranger.
- Carry small money with you – Make sure to carry a bit of money with you to pick up drinks and snacks. The hitchhiking days can be long and you will need to buy food and drinks at the PA stations.
- Make an effort – If someone is kind enough to drive you, make the effort to speak with them and learn about their culture.
There you have it! Hitchhiking Japan is super easy and CAN be accomplished. Many people can’t believe we managed this as they think that Japanese people are shy and will not pick up strangers. However, I think we have proved that hitchhiking Japan is totally possible. If you decide to hitchhike Japan, please check back and let us know how it went for you 🙂