Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I walked up to a pavilion at the rest stop, facing about 10 senior citizens relaxing, enjoying the summer weather.

"I need a place to stay, and I have a tent. Does anyone know of a campsite near here?"

Two women heard this and ran off, saying, "Maybe ___ ___ ___ find ___ ask ___ !"

My Japanese is far from perfect.

The others explained that the women would soon return, and began asking me questions about my trip. Everyone was supportive of my hitchhiking aspirations.

Everyone except one.

An old guy in the corner took a draw from his cigarette and shook his head, "Impossible!"

"Why?" I asked.

"Impossible!" he said again. "No one will pick you up. You should go home!"

Everyone was looking at him.

"Go home," he repeated. "There are too few cars in Hokkaido, and people won't stop, and the weather will turn bad, and you will have problems. Impossible."

Then, as if to prove him wrong, the women came back -- one with a map of local campgrounds, the other offering a ride. He was apparently unaware of the vast stores of kindness waiting, wanting to be tapped from the hearts of Hokkaidans. And with a negative attitude like his, I could see why.

"Impossible でわないよ," I said to him with a smirk, and walked back with the women to their car. I got in, joining a one-legged man and a dog eating a bowl of green-tea flavored ice cream.

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