Japanese cyclist visits sister city

NANAIMO – Ryo Ambe of Saitiama, Japan, stops by Nanaimo to say thanks for help with 2011 earthquake.

A cyclist from Japan stopped by to say thanks and pay a second visit to his hometown’s sister city.

Ryo Ambe, 32, of Saitama, Japan, Nanaimo’s sister city, was at Nanaimo city hall Monday to meet with Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan and members of Central Vancouver Island Japanese-Canadian Society.

Ambe was on the final leg of a trip up the West Coast, from San Diego, Calif., to Vancouver.

In 2011, Ambe cycled across Canada to thank Canadians for this country’s relief efforts following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March of that year.

Ambe’s first visit to Nanaimo was especially meaningful, since it was his hometown’s sister city that raised more than $10,500 in relief funds through a local Red Cross campaign.

Since his 2011 tour, he spent a lot of time on the saddle of his modified Giant touring bike with tours across Taiwan and New Zealand.

Ambe said, through an interpreter, his most recent trip up the U.S. West Coast took two months and covered more than 3,000 kilometres.

On the way, he stopped to help with ongoing beach cleanup efforts in Oregon and California where Japanese tsunami debris has been washing ashore.

Ambe’s visit to the mayor’s office was followed up with a presentation to the Central Vancouver Island Japanese-Canadian Society members, hosted at Bistro Taiyo, where he shared stories about his journeys over the past two years.

Ironically, although Ambe has travelled extensively, he has never lived anywhere other than his hometown of Saitama. Saitama Prefecture was one of the regions hit hard by the 2011 earthquake.

Ambe said he will have to settle down when to work for a while to finance future trips. He personally finances all his cycling tours, working various jobs – he has worked in department stores, for and insurance company and even in a hospital, delivering medicine – to raise cash when he is at home. He believes paying his own way keeps the focus on his message of one person giving thanks and avoid him being viewed as a piece of rolling advertising for various sponsors.

Ambe has been staying at the Painted Turtle Guesthouse and left Nanaimo this morning (July 18) for a visit to Victoria before returning to Japan.

Ambe has recored his travels on video and still photographs, which he has posted on his online diary and can be viewed by visiting http://transcontinentaldiary.blogspot.ca/p/west-coastusacanada2013.html.