A Japanese national who embarked on a nationwide bicycle tour to say thank you to Taiwan for its help after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan last year arrived in Chiayi City on Friday.
The cyclist, Ryo Ambe, was greeted by Chiayi Mayor Huang Ming-hui (黃敏惠) and other city officials, who presented him with local cakes, a sports towel with the country’s national flag emblazoned on it, Taiwanese pineapple and wax apples.
Huang said that Taiwanese people, who also live in an -earthquake-prone area, understood the fear and helplessness felt by Japanese after the March 11 earthquake. She said the Chiayi City Government delivered 2,000 tents to Japan and donated nearly NT$20 million (US$680,270) to the Interchange Association, the de facto Japanese embassy in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.
Taiwan eventually donated about NT$6.6 billion.
Ambe said that although a year had passed since the earthquake, the warmth of Taiwanese toward Japanese had stayed the same, as seen by the passion he had experienced throughout his tour of Taiwan.
Ambe began his nationwide tour shortly after he arrived in Taiwan on April 25. He rode his bicycle, which bears the national flags of Taiwan and Japan, from Taipei to Yilan, Hualien, Taitung, Pingtung, Greater Kaohsiung and Greater Tainan, before arriving in Chiayi City on Friday.
The 30-year-old from Saitama Prefecture in the Kanto region of Honshu Island quit his job in Tokyo after the earthquake.
He toured Canada and New Zealand on previous “thank you” journeys. Taiwan is the third country in which he has embarked on a thank you journey.
He had 500 badges made to give to people who cheer him along as he rides around Taiwan. The badges either show the Japanese and Chinese words for “thank you” or an image representing the 22 cities and counties of Taiwan.