A young man from Japan is cycling across Canada to thank the people of this country for the help his country received during last spring’s earthquake and tsunami.
“Last March Japan suffered major damage from an earthquake,” said Ryo Ambe. “As many as 15,000 people unfortunately died as a result of the earthquake and the tsunami that followed.”
“International society stepped in to support us, including the people of Canada. As a result, I want to cycle across Canada with a message of appreciation.”
Ambe said a second reason for his trip was the death of a close friend from cancer that occurred at about the same time as the earthquake.
“He was 41 years old, with a wife and children,” he said. “He had many things in his life that he was not able to do. Maybe he told me from Heaven that I should just do it.”
Ambe is from Saitama, a large city north of Tokyo, where he has worked for an insurance company and a department store.
He started his cross-Canada trip in Halifax in May.
In Montréal he teamed up with Canada Runs for Japan, an organization that seeks to raise awareness of disaster relief efforts in Japan by participating in marathons and other long-distance running events.
While in Canada he learned about Terry Fox, another young man who attempted to cross the country on a mission.
“I respect Terry Fox,” he said. “His attitude was fantastic.”
Stopping at the Terry Fox memorial on the Trans Canada Highway near Thunder Bay was an emotional experience to the Japanese cyclist. The memorial marks the spot where Fox ended his Marathon of Hope after his cancer returned.
Other new experiences included camping out, something he had never done before.
Encounters with wildlife, including several meetings with bears, have added interest to the journey.
“I want to be a bridge between Canada and Japan,” he said. “Most Japanese know about Vancouver, Toronto and Banff, but not about Saskatchewan. There is a good opportunity for me to introduce Canada through my eyes, through my pictures and movies.”
Ambe spent the weekend before last taking a break from his journey with the Hokai family at Mountainview Bed and Breakfast.
“Clearwater is a very nice, very comfortable place,” he said. “It is a nice size of town. There is a beautiful river and the mountains are good.”