Thank you America
Written by Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer   
June 23, 2013 10:43 pm

Ryo Ambe stops in Brookings Friday during his 1,860 mile trek up the West Coast. The Pilot/Scott Graves
Ryo Ambe stops in Brookings Friday during his 1,860 mile trek up the West Coast. The Pilot/Scott Graves
The fit, smiling man is in the middle of a West Coast “never forget 3/11” bicycle tour to say thank you to America for its help after the devastating March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. 

The United States sent money, supplies and volunteers to Japan after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggering a tsunami that engulfed the northeast and wiped out entire towns.

 Some 20,000 people were reported dead or missing and more than 800,000 homes were completely destroyed.

Ambe, who speaks halting English, said he had never seen such an outpouring of support.

“I want to show the heart of Japan to the American people,” he said.

He is cycling 1,860 miles along the coast from San Diego to Vancouver, British Columbia.

“It’s better to show my appreciation by doing instead of just talking,” Ambe said. 

In addition to expressing his gratitude, he also picks up trash at beaches along the way. If it’s tsunami debris, that’s even better, he said.

This is the fourth “Thank You” bicycle trip for Ambe, a resident of Saitama Prefecture in the Kanto region of Honshu Island. He quit his job at a department store in Tokyo after the earthquake and also losing a friend to cancer who encouraged him to follow his dreams.

In 2011 he bicycled nearly 5,000 miles across Canada, another 2,520 miles around New Zealand and 750 miles around Taiwan in 2012. He is paying for the trip on his own and through the generosity of friends, family and residents of the lands he visits.

Ambe is documenting his adventures using online services such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a blog. His Facebook page is www.facebook.com/RyoingWestCoast2013. His blog is http://transcontinentaldiary.blogspot.com (click the English translation button to read it in English).

Ambe said he has been warmly received by Americans he’s met along the coast. 

“People think that it’s very good, what I’m doing,” he said.

He has received many gifts from officials and residents of the countries he has visited.

He was happy to receive several issues of the Curry Coastal Pilot that reported on the tsunami that damaged the Port of Brookings Harbor in 2011.

On Wednesday, he stopped in Crescent City, which was also damaged by the tsunami, and took pictures of a Japanese boat that is currently on display there. The boat is considered tsunami debris and is believed to have floated across the Pacific before landing on a Crescent City beach.