Tag Archives: hitch-hiking

Mementos: Japan Hitch-hiking journey flashback

Japan hitch-hiking: holding a sign for Muroto in the southern tip of Shikoku
Japan hitch-hiking: holding a sign for Muroto in the southern tip of Shikoku

In 1993-4, I worked as a mushroom farmhand in Tottori-ken (prefecture), a rather remote area of Japan (southwestern-ish Honshu). The work was long and arduous and the boss was a jerk so, I eventually split unannounced one day.

Determined to explore some of the country before my visa ran out, I stuck my thumb-out seeking a “bouken” (adventure) after making destination signs by copying place name kanji characters onto 100 yes store notebooks with crayon and decorating with some lucky words and stamps (not sure if this helped).

Hitch-hiking isn’t very common in Japan but by sticking to rural areas – including the traditional “o henrosan dori” (the pilgrim’s path) on Shikoku (the smallest of the 4 main islands of the Japanese archipelago) which has seen many wandering poets, seekers and prayers over centuries – I skidded along alright.

Getting rides in the country areas was usually rather quick but often times, the ride would insist of showing “hospitality” in form of taking to their hometown to show off “the thing their town is famous for” (of which every town has one thing). Not ideal for fast moving but well… the take the ride, you go where it goes. Getting between big cities along the expressways was much less enjoyable and relied on waiting around rest/service areas in these cases.

I pitched my small tent most anywhere (beaches, shrines, parks etc) much the chagrin of caretakers and so on who would scold aloud in the early hours. In these situations, I poked my shaggy head out of the tent flap and yammered confused apologies in my farmer Japanese – this tactic would usually confuse the situation into submission.

Some of the time I was accompanied by a mysterious and intrepid Japanese surfer girl who thought my ridiculous plan was worth trying. I liked this part.

What follows are a few pieces of photographic evidence from these journeys, snapped with an early generation panorama camera – but developed “normal aspect” hence black framing bars on some shots.

Japan hitch-hiking: this ride insisted on a side trip to his hometown which featured a natural water source hot enough to boil eggs (in a mesh pouch) - also made said eggs rather smelly
Japan hitch-hiking: this ride insisted on a side trip to his hometown which featured a natural water source hot enough to boil eggs (in a mesh pouch) – also made said eggs rather smelly

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Mementos: Japan Misasa Onsen town

Misasa, Pétanque tournament, with Mayor, circa 1993
Misasa, Pétanque tournament, with Mayor, circa 1993

“You can’t go home again” says Thomas Wolfe, and i’m cool with that as i don’t have a “home” however, there a few spots in the world that i always yearn to return to – one of which is Misasa Onsen, a small mountain town in Tottori-ken (prefecture) Japan(note: pop. approx 6500) which boasts hotsprings with exceptionally high levels of Radon/Radium (is this good for you? i dunno, not a chemist – note: radon is the gas-form).

They folklore says (as per the town’s name which translates to “Three Mornings”) that staying and bathing here for three days will cure you of all your ills. As Radium was discovered by French scientist Marie Curie, the town celebrates all things France with a statue, festival and park dedicated to the wise lady, and other Franco-accruements.

Misasa, Kawara rotenburo with Bob, circa 1993
Misasa, Kawara rotenburo with Bob, circa 1993

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Forward Momentum to Florida – Postcard #76

Pod cover: postcards from Gravely Beach - forward momentum to florida

Puffing along a trail recounting leaving cold, miserable London en route to post-hurricane Florida with flashbacks to working in Rheinplatz grade fields, gathering chestnuts to sell for beer and bread money, strange encampments at Oktoberfest, and hitchhiking to Amsterdam with gaggle of pals. To London by ferry and rapid exit via cheap flight Florida, quickly interjecting in chaotic domestic situations, meals with surly Hare Krishnas, sleeping on unglamorous beaches, and avoiding looting commotion, while plotting forward momentum, which eventually came in form of a dubious drive-away car situation to Dallas… and beyond (in 1992).

Features music by: “Brave Captain” fIREHOSE (recorded live in Ancienne, Belgique, March 12, 1991 – via Archive.org), “Florida” by Blue Rodeo (recorded live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), and “Crazy Fingers” by Grateful Dead (recorded live in Phoenix, AZ, 1993 – via archive.org). 

Brace yourself for: Forward Momentum to Florida – Postcard #75
(20MB, 14:50, 192k mp3, stereo)

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Collection: Hitchhiking signs (variety, Japan)

Hitch-hiking signs from travels in Japan, 1993, created by copying street signs and maps, and drawn with crayon and marker in a school notebook or various papers (from 100 yen store).

Hitch-hiking signs, Japan: Kochi (ken/prefecture) with
Hitch-hiking signs, Japan: Kochi (ken/prefecture) with “O Kudsai” (humbly please)
Hitch-hiking signs, Japan: Kansai, Onegaishimasu (please-is)
Hitch-hiking signs, Japan: Kansai, with “Onegaishimasu” (humbly please)

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Collection: Hitch-hiking signs (variety, Europe)

Surviving artifacts from hitch-hiking around Germany and Netherlands, 1992, assembled and documented (there were many more). Annotations seem unnecessary but added nevertheless.

Hitch-hiking to Holland
Hitch-hiking to Holland (note: adding “bitte” German for please, adds a nice touch, as does the peace sign – obviously a school notebook with crayon
Heading to Landau, Germany
Heading to Landau, Germany (en route to Rhodt unter Reitburg) – again school notebook with crayon and peace sign

Continue reading Collection: Hitch-hiking signs (variety, Europe)

Collection: Hitch-hiking signs (variety, North America)

Surviving artifacts from various hitch-hiking journeys around USA/ Canada, circa 1989-1994. Annotations as recollected. Note: many more of these signs existed but are lost to the world as ephemeral creations.

Take us to the White House - used from South Carolina northwards toward Rhode Island, Oct. 1990 (bad idea)
Take us to the White House – used from South Carolina northwards toward Rhode Island, Oct. 1990 (bad idea)
Heading to Salt Lake City from points unknown (possibly after Escalante Canyon flash flood hiking trip, 1988-9?)
Heading to Salt Lake City from points unknown (possibly after Escalante Canyon flash flood hiking trip, 1988-9?)

Continue reading Collection: Hitch-hiking signs (variety, North America)

Hitchhiking to the Boardroom – Presentation Pitch for SXSWi10

Dave Olson at SXSW F@ck Stats Make Art 2008
Find the plane where Awesum & Audience intersect

Here’s my (Dave Olson’s) submission to SXSW Interactive 2010 – Starting August 10, you’ll have a chance to vote for SXSW Panels and Presentations until Aug. 28th and your vote constitutes a portion of the selection process along with staff and an advisory board.

After the enjoyment of presenting F@ck Stats, Make Art spiel at SXSWi 2009 (which garnered favourable reviews BTW), I mulled over my options and have some pretty entertaining in mind which will entice me to dig deep in my older travel files and more modern Internet biz binders of artifacts to support my story-telling.

For F@ck Stat, Make Art, i went fully analog with no projectors, laptops etc. but this time i will  use some photos to share what i have in mind including stories from time spent as mushroom farmer in Japan, beach club host in Guam, searching for the kind in Palau, gathering grapes and chestnuts in Germany or following the Grateful Dead through the hinterlands of America in a VW bus.

Listen to a recap of my SXSW 2009 core conversation and after-hours hi-jinks in SXSW Stories from Middle Earth – Choogle On #79 podcast.

Also for your voting consideration:

Art = craft + intent x integrity
Art = craft + intent x integrity

Details of pitch:

Title of panel or presentation (maximum 8 words):

Hitchhiking to the Boardroom

50 word description of this panel / presentation

Not all business lessons are learned in an MBA program, nor management skills gained in seminars. This inter-disciplinary conversation distills a decade of working odd jobs in 20+ countries, followed by 14 years of Internet biz endeavors, into unique problem-solving skills as well as inspire attendees with a replenished toolbox of usable tactics.

10 questions that will be answered in this panel / presentation

  1. How can I reach the top without a fancy degree?
  2. Why should you bring “yourself” to work?
  3. How do you diffuse a$$holes (especially when they are your boss)?
  4. How can I find mentors, teachers and miracles?
  5. How can I develop recession-proof business ideas?
  6. What are the advantages of communicating with an audience in their language?
  7. Why should I forget pre-conceptions and surprise myself?
  8. Why is an inter-disciplinary perspective important?
  9. Why should I consider hitting the road (and not look back)?
  10. How can I figure out what truly matters to me – and make it happen?

50-word bio for this speaker

Dave Olson is a world-traveling renaissance guy who has published essays, poetry and fiction, wrote and produced a documentary film, and traveled to 20+ countries working jobs from mushroom farmer to private beach club host. An experienced story-teller, Dave’s presentation style is unique, visually compelling and free of jargon, cheesy buzzwords and bulleted lists.

get out of the cublicle you deserve more!
get out of the cublicle you deserve more! (photo KK)

I am qualified to speak on this topic because:

{pardon the 3rd person} An experienced media pundit, Dave made dozens of TV/radio/newspaper appearances discussing web media technology, public policy activism, entrepreneurship, hockey and more on outlets ranging from CBC to BBC to High Times.

Most recently, he’s worked as a professional web community builder and marketing evangelist for a variety Vancouver web companies.

He regularly speaks at events and conferences about using technology to enable artistic expression and using social media for social change.

He graduated in 2004 from the noted Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington with a degree in Inter-disciplinary studies after studying public policy, philosophy, global affairs and writing – he also attended the Universities of Utah and Guam.

A podcasting pioneer, Dave creates several long-running series including Postcards from Gravelly Beach – a spoken word literature show, Choogle on! – gonzo international sound-seeing adventures, and Canucks Outsider, a wildly-popular audio magazine about Vancouver hockey culture.

Has this person spoken at SXSW before?

Yes – See the recap of F@ck Stats, Make Art at SXSW 2009

Spieling to the People of SXSW 09
Spieling to the People of SXSW 09- photo by KK

The scales of sharing - Free for Taking or Dont Take
The scales of sharing - Free for Taking or Don't Take

Recent Publications:

  • Depth Perception (poetry) – 2009
  • Letters from Russia (epistolary lit) – 2006
  • The First Rule of Longboard Hockey is … – Heads Magazine 2007
  • Rebagliati Positive for 2010 – Head Magazine 2006
  • Zen Rambling in Japan – Heads Magazine 2006
  • Hemp Culture in Japan – Cannabis Culture 2000

For Your SXSW Voting Consideration: