After a slightly restless sleep, owing to a droning drunk in the capsule directly below me, I followed one of my fellow patrons downstairs to the Sento, and tried in vein to find the toothpaste for the disposable toothbrushes that were provided. Eventually I made my way out of the slightly eerie capsule hotel, escaping the smell of testosterone, tears and broken dreams as I went, and headed up to the service area that I had left last night. I didn’t have to wait for long before I was picked up by a group of students, a bit younger than me, who insisted on me showing some ID, and then asked questions in rapid-casual Japanese for the next 40 minutes or so, which was fairly tough. At the next service station I had been waiting for just over an hour for a lift (although one young girl, possibly mistaking me for a nutrient-starved tramp, very kindly bought me an isotonic drink), and was beginning to give up hope, when I was picked up by the CEO of a dry-cleaning company and his wife, who took me past Hiroshima (‘Darling, we’re taking this hitchhiker with us, okay?’). I thus enjoyed a very comfortable ride in his luxury car, listening to ELO whilst we chatted about the recent wedding of William and Kate. When they dropped me off he told me that if I was in Hiroshima next week then I should ring him and he could show me the sights. This trip has certainly reaffirmed my belief that Japanese people are incredibly kind-hearted and caring, and I felt very touched.
At the next service station, near Miyajima, I was waiting around 30 minutes before a young man offered me a lift, all the way to my final destination (about 300km)! I couldn’t believe my luck, especially when he turned out to be an incredibly likable chap, with whom 3 1/2 hours of conversation in Japanese actually flew by. When he dropped me off in Fukuoka (a city in Northern Kyushu), he gave me his number and made me promise to call him if I got into any difficulties; again I was at a loss for words. And so after 1100km, 10 different cars, and approximately 33 hours I had made it to Kyushu. After finding a cheap hostel (~￡15) for the night, and having some pretty delicious Ramen for my dinner, I hung out with a few of my fellow backpackers (also in Japanese), and then got a reasonably early night. The last two days have been an absolute blast, but my lord does my brain hurt!