Travel From Hokkaido To Tokyo By Connecting Trucks Journey (Part 2)

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Travel From Hokkaido To Tokyo By Connecting Trucks Journey (Part 2)

He goes to a parking lot at Akita where he finds a truck heading to Tsuruoka in Yamagata. The truck, driven by Naoyuki, departs from Akita at 11am and travels south next to the Sea of Japan. The journey to Sakata takes about 3.5 hours. Sakata is about 30 minutes away from the Yamagata prefecture border. Shishido treats Naoyuki to lunch at a restaurant on the second floor of a seafood market. They indulge in a deluxe seafood rice dish, which has 13 toppings, including amberjack, tuna, sea bass and even blowfish.

Shishido bids farewell to the driver and goes in search of another truck which will take him to Niigata. He tries his luck at the market. After asking around, he finds out that truck drivers would take a break and have their meals at Mikawa, a resting station. However it is quite far from the market, so he decides to continue his search in the morning. The next day, he makes his way to the resting station. As it is Sunday, very few trucks stop by the place. But he manages to locate a truck carrying car parts to Aichi and which will pass by Niigata. Niigata is 149km away from Sakata and during the three-hour ride, the truck travels along the Sea of Japan. Shishido is lucky enough to see some wave flowers, a traditional sight of winter in Japan, during the journey. He reaches Murakami-shi in Niigata at about 12.50pm. The next traveller, Naito, has been waiting for him at Port Niigata since noon, so Shishido gives him a call and suggests Naito meet him at a resting station in Murakami-shi. So Naito hitches a ride on a truck – driven by Watanabe Daisuke – and meets Shishido at the station. Shishido, who passes the “baton” to Naito, has now completed his leg of the journey, travelling a total distance of 730km.

Naito will begin the last leg of this relay from Niigata and travel by connecting trucks to Maebashi, then Saitama and finally to the goal of this adventure, Tokyo’s Tsukiji. The truck which is going towards Maebashi is loaded with yellowtail caught from Sado. It travels 230km along the highway. It passes through the Kanetsu Tunnel, which spans 11km and is said to be the longest tunnel in Japan. Naito arrives at an intersection in Maebashi, Gunma at 6pm. His next checkpoint is Saitama. He doesn’t see any trucks passing by, so he decides to go to a bike shop to get some help. The shop owner tells him that since it is Sunday, few trucks will be passing by. However, he suggests Naito drop by a pachinko parlour nearby, where some pick-up trucks may drop by. A pick-up truck driven by a 65-year-old gentleman does indeed pull over, and he offers Naito a ride. But the travellers on this relay are only allowed to hitch rides on trucks. So Naito asks the driver for help in looking for a lodge for the night. It turns out that the driver owns a lodge in Mount Akagi!

Naito first accompanies the pick-up truck driver to a party at a countryside bar in the mountains, called Apollo. The party is organised by a company that handles flowers. At the party, Naito meets a truck driver who is travelling towards Tokyo the next morning, and who agrees to give Naito a ride. Then, Naito heads to Akagi Hot Spring - located 30km away from Maebashi city centre – with the pick-up truck driver. The solitary Lodge Sohonke in Mount Akagi features a stylish and artistic interior. It has an outdoor and indoor bath. For dinner, Naito is served authentic Jousyuu Beef and apple gratin. The next day, he goes to a flower park and meets the truck driver from the previous night’s party. The truck driver drops him off near Ooshima Station. Naito asks around about trucks and is told to walk to a trucking complex nearby. Once he reaches the complex, he is thrilled to see several trucks. Naito needs a ride to Saitama City but most of the trucks are heading in the opposite direction. He finally manages to find one which passes by Saitama. It is actually heading to Soka, via Gyoda. This foreign-made Benz truck, driven by Kaniwa, is carrying used paper which will be recycled in Soka. Naito is surprised to see that the steering wheel is on the left. Kaniwa tells Naito that it is quite a challenge to drive the truck. Once the truck reaches Saitama prefecture, the truck makes a quick stopover. Naito treats Kaniwa to lunch at Ka-chan Cafeteria, which is popular among long-distance truckers. After a meal of delicious deep-fried pork chops, Naito hops on the truck again and finally reaches Saitama City at 4pm.

He first checks out Saitama Prefecture Fish Market, but realises that trucks mainly come to such large markets in the morning. So he moves away from the market and decides to drop by a shop he knows, to get a ride on one of its delivery trucks. Funachu is a famous chain in the food service industry, selling skewered chicken and lunchboxes, and even offering catering services. This company supported Naito when he was a professional boxer. However, this shop is closed on Mondays.

So the next morning, Naito waits in front of the shop before it opens. He later manages to hitch a ride on its delivery truck heading to Tokyo. Some of the goods being loaded on the truck include boxes of chicken meat balls, eel, and shumai dumplings. It departs from Saitama City at 10am, passes by the Arakawa River, and stops at a shop in Kyoujima to deliver some goods. Incidentally, this shop belongs to the family of Naito’s wife. After bidding farewell to his in-laws, Naito continues riding on the Funachu truck. The truck reaches its final delivery location in Ginza at 2pm. The truck’s container is empty now, so although Tsukiji is only 1km away, Naito has to find another loaded truck to his final destination.

He decides to try finding a female truck driver for a change. After making enquiries and getting directions, he manages to find one working for Watakoh Trucks. However the female trucker is in the middle of a delivery to a club and is unable to take Naito to Tsukiji. So he abandons his plan and decides to look for a male truck driver instead. He manages to find one heading to Tsukiji from Ginza. He finally reaches his goal, Tsukiji, signalling the end of this three-leg relay trip from Wakkanai to Tokyo. During this hitchhiking adventure spanning 2,000km, our three travellers have hitched rides on 14 trucks carrying 19 types of goods.

THIS WEEK'S TIPS:

  • Truckers driving long distances would gather at “resting stations” for a break and meal
  • The best time to catch delivery trucks at large markets is in the morning

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