"To make matters worse, I decided to hitchhike. Striking a heroic stance, I declared my intention to my Japanese friends to become the first person ever to hitchhike the length of Japan, end-to-end, cape-to-cape, sea-to-sea. This did not impress them as much as I had hoped.
"Why would you want to do that?" they asked, genuinely puzzled. "There is no reason to hitchhike. That's why we built the Bullet Train."
Others worried about my safety. "But," I would argue, "Japan is a very safe country, is it not?"
"Oh, yes. Very safe. Safest in the world."
"So whyshouldn't I hitchhike?"
"Because Japan is dangerous."
And so on.
Now, I will admit that mooching rides across Japan is not a major achievement -- I mean, it's not like I paddled up the Amazon or discovered insulin or anything -- but I am the first person ever to do this, so allow me my hubris.
When I left my home in Minamata City aboard a southbound train, I felt suitably bold with my backpack and muscular thumb.
"I'm going to hitchhike the length of Japan," I told the man beside me.
He smiled and nodded.
"I'm going to follow the cherry blossoms."
"All the way to Russia," I said.
He smiled again, and soon after changed seats.
--from Hitching Rides with Buddha