By Chien Li-chung
and Jason Pan
Staff reporter, with staff writer
Masakimi Kudaka, director of the Okinawa Prefecture trade office, defies the normal car commute of foreign representatives in Taiwan, chosing to ride his bicycle to work through Taipei’s heavy traffic.
Kudaka cycles a total of 20km a day from his Tianmu (天母) residence to the Taipei Office of Okinawa Industry Promotion Public Corp on Songjiang Road and back.
The 39-year-old arrived in Taipei in April with his family for a three-year posting. A friend told him that a good way of getting to know the people of Taiwan was to ride a bicycle around the city.
Starting on May 20 he began commuting by bicycle.
“After I began cycling, I got addicted to it,” he said. “One way is about 10km. Through recording on my mobile phone app, my best time was 37 minutes and 9 seconds. That was faster than taking the bus.”
Besides the trade office in Taipei, the Okinawa Prefecture government has set up offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
“According to our own survey of Okinawans, more than 70 percent have a positive impression of Taiwan. It is the favorite foreign country of the Japanese,” Kudaka said.
“Our Taipei office is the most sought-after foreign posting for officials in the prefecture government,” he said.
“I love living in Taiwan, everything is good for me. The only thing is that people drive too fast, and they like to squeeze in between other cars. In my country, Japanese will keep a safe distance between vehicles, and drivers seldom weave on the road or arbitrarily change lanes,” he said.
“Each time I ride my bicycle, I am scared of getting hit by cars,” he joked.
Taiwanese are very friendly and he feels he can ask passers-by for directions and even carry on small exchanges.
“If language is a problem, we usually use hand gestures and body expressions, and we can understand each other,” he said.
“It’s the human touch and friendliness of Taiwanese, that makes this the world’s most suitable country to live in. When I retire, I will consider to immigrating to Taiwan and making a home here,” he said.