Hitchhiking on Shikoku and a long sea journey

Last modified 19.03.2022 | Published 25.01.19851980's, Japan, North, Central and East Asia, Travelogue

Est. reading time:

I had left Hiroshima and crossed over to the island of Shikoku. There I was lucky to get a lift and found my way to Kobe. From there i boarded a ship to Okinawa.

This article is part of a diary based travelogue from a six month journey in 1985 to several countries in East and South East Asia: Japan, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand


Wednesday 23.1.1985, Hiroshima – Matsuyama – Kobe

In the morning I left Hiroshima with a ferry across to Matsuyama on Shikoku, another of the five mail islands. My thought was to follow the north-western coastline of the island and cross over to Kobe orOsaka, and from there catch a ferry to Okinawa.

On the ferry this morning however I got into a conversation with a Japanese gentleman. He was on a business trip on the island and it ended with us going on sightseeing together in Matsuyama.

One thing is worth seeing: An old castle up on a hill. After this they were kind enough to let me join them in their company auto because the first half of our routes was shared. The goal was Iyo Saijo. From there I took a slow train to Takamatsu. I was able to see some of the Japanese countryside, with rice paddies and unproductive hillsides.

I then took a ferry across to Kobe but was unfortunate an ended on a pier well outside the city centre and even further from the Youth Hostel. The time was 01 in the night and taxi was the only available means of transport. But the driver did not speak English I had no idea how far it was to the centre, the taximeter was running wild and I had to tell him to let me off in the centre. There I was, everything was closed and there was no cheap accommodation for miles around. I regretted not staying put at the quay and its terminal building.

In the end I found the cheapest hotel – a ryokan which means traditional Japanese – nearby. Its name was

  • Tor Ryokan and cost me almost 20 USD, terribly expensive.


Thursday 24.1.1985, Kobe

I had bought the boat ticket Kobe – Naha (Okinawa) in Tokyo for around 78 USD. The vessel was not leaving until 1900 the same evening so I had a day to explore Kobe.

Kobe has long been a large port town and I noticed on a tourist map that it had a Norwegian Sailor’s church. I did not go there but instead I climbed the hill behind Kobe where foreigners all since the last century has had their residences. The old, venerable houses are today a favourite goal for Japanese tourists.

What downtown Kobe has to offer is a small Chinatown and a few more interesting shopping arcades of the marathon type.

The boat was fairly big and I was the only foreigner on board. I had bought a dormitory ticket and ended on a large tatami where four others also found their place. There were in all 9 such tatamis. The staff handed out one blanket per person and that was all there was for sleeping.

The potential for entertainment on board was equally primitive, a few automat-/videogames, a jukebox that was expensive and that’s it.

The trip was going to last 40 hours.


Friday 25.1.1985, At sea

Even though the voyage was not as boring as expected, I lazed and read most of the day just waiting for bed time.


Read more

The introduction to this journey to East and South East Asia

PREVIOUS: Hiroshima: A terrible past

THIS: Hitchhiking on Shikoku and a long sea journey from Kobe

NEXT: Okinawa: Mild winds, cherry blossoms and a WW2 history