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Japanese>>>
Spanish>>>

 

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height: 4000m、near the border of Chike-Bolivia Nov/99

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Patagonian Wind made a strange tree Feb/9

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Lake Uyuni in the Bolivian Andes, Salt Lake horizon Sep/99

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a friendly sea lion, Galapagos Islands Nov/99

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Guards reside at the border of Chile. the height is 4400m. Presented me suction of oxygen tank and Coca leaves. I spent two days with them, made them a Japanese fried rice lunch. Sep/99

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worlds inheritance, the ruins of Machupichu. trekking Inca trail.Sep/99

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a village of Cameroon, Africa. they took care of me; foods and a bed Jul/96

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slipped and had a knee injury.... winter of Alaska highway Nov/98

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exchange address and greetings with a village headman Mar/96

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Patagonian Sunset. Everyday I made my dinners in the sunset light. Mar/99

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"Who is Real native?" Gilgit, Pakistan Aug/97

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the wreck of the war, Dienvienfu Vietnam Aug/98

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I was invited the most important festival in a year. Paro, Butan Mar/98

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Western Sahara, Mauritania Feb/96

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the Holy mausoleum of Islam, IMAM LEZAR Mashad, Iran Apr/97

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Yunnnan, China. a market of small race. Jun/98

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cute school uniform of Butan. Mar/98

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The height 5200m, tibet. thurugh the Himalayas Jan/99

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25/3/2000 Osaka Japan
I'm back in Japan finally! I visited a total of 43 countries and cycled 55,000km during my entire trip, spending 4 years and 3 months from September 26, 1995 to December 28, 1999.
In the newsletter vol.3, I traveled in Asia and flew into Alaska. Since then until my arrival in Japan, I spent a year biking in South America, mainly through Patagonia and the Andes. The countries I visited were Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, and finally Ecuador before I headed back to Japan. I originally planned to visit Colombia and Venezuela, but their worsened public security and natural disasters kept me away.


I arranged this newsletter into three sections: a digest of South America, my reminiscences, and data from my trip. I would be glad if you could share some of your time with me reading my story.




1. Patagonia is famous for its blasts of wind. When I got off the bicycle, even with its full load, it got blown away for 200 meters, resulting in my spending three hours returning to the road. Well, this is a bit of exaggeration, but I had such a hard time pitching a tent and cooking with fire in the wind.
2. In Otabalo, Ecuador, I received an indigenous physical treatment using KUI (Guinea pig). They rub the body with KUI and let KUI find and cure the affected parts. It is said that germs move from the body into KUI. Prior to this treatment, tick bites had been so annoying that I had not slept well for a few days. Surprising enough, right from that day, I could fall into a deep sleep. (It was unfortunate that KUI could not cure brain problems!)
3. The world biggest salt lake, Lake Uyuni in the Bolivian Andes is twelve times (!) as big as Lake Biwa in Japan. During the dry season, the lake becomes a white field of salt, on which I rode the bicycle. Since it is at no less than 3,700 meters above sea level, excessive ultraviolet rays would sunburn your uncovered skin very badly. I enjoyed SIO-RAMEN, a salt-seasoned Japanese noodles at the lake.


1. Galapagos Islands were impressive. I had visited various wilderness sanctuaries around the world. But nothing was comparable to this place, as if God had created a special world only here on the earth. The beauty of all the living creatures made me even unable to sigh.
2. I developed my sixth sense in wilderness: smelling water in the wild, foreseeing dangers, finding things in darkness and so on. I became friends with the wind, and even the head wind was on my side. By camping every night, the waxing and waning of the moon began to tell me the time.
3. Men were always talking about "love." On the street corners or from the music, I heard more than enough of the phrases such as "I will be for you" and "You're much more beautiful than yesterday." As a result, my heart now gets tightened as soon as I hear the word CO2A:ON ("heart" in Spanish).


1. I once again suffered from mountain sickness when crossing over the Andes from Chile to Argentina. I was too optimistic about this travel over the mountain pass because the altitude went up only to 4,300 meters. There, for the first time in my entire trip, I ended up preparing for the worst situation (my own death) because I could find no water to drink and no traffic to ask for help. But I was extremely lucky that the State Governor on a jeep happened to pass by when I was collapsed beside the road, being almost blown off by an outrageous wind. He was kind enough to give me a ride to the border police, where I was treated with an oxygen inhaler and coca leaves. The border police was only 6km away from where I was picked up, but it was an extremely long 6km for me to bike.
2. Lima, the capital of Peru is said to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Indeed, I saw thieves practicing how to snatch a watch at the downtown main square. According to some Japanese victims, snatchers' lightening tricks did not make them angry, but rather impressed them. I heard many Japanese had become the victims of various crimes in Ecuador and Peru.


--an extra story-- One day when I got up in the morning, I found a dark-red stiffness in my shoulder. It grew everyday, and became feverish and itchy. It really looked like a parasite worm had hatched in the shoulder and was about to come out through the skin. Horrible!! Then, I consulted a doctor. He said, "It's just an insect bite." Ummmm---.


In Guinea, Africa, I suffered simultaneously from malaria and dysentery, but a local doctor saved my life. In Iran, at the desert, I experienced 54 degree Celsius. In the winter in Tibet, I felt -30 degree Celsius. In the Andes, I was collapsed by mountain sickness, but the State Governor happened to pass by and gave me a life back. The Alaskan winter wrecked my knee, forcing me to concentrate on rehabilitation without cycling for over a month. The KDD's (the main Japanese telecommunications company) telephone messages sometimes became a great healer when I missed Japanese language. Some nights were just too hot to keep candles standing straight up. But whatever happened to me, the sun went down in the evening and came back in the morning, everyday. It was this great law of nature that always moved me and kept me going. In African villages, people treated me differently from others, for they saw me traveling by bicycle of my own force. My knowing about small villages not appearing on the map or talking about the local food allowed me to become friends with them quickly. "Hello." "Where are you from?" The speed of bicycle traveling made it easy to have such spontaneous communication with local people. "Does this trip ever end?" I became hopeless now and then during the long journey. But once my trip ended, it seems that everything had happened only within a moment. All the sudden, my touched feelings, sufferings, intensity and sweet sentiment, all these vivid emotions turned into my "memories." What is left is just who I am right now and only a faint smell from those memories. I have now come to realize that every single moment is a step in my life and that I have to be appreciative of every moment. We all are given a limited amount of time to live. How do you want to spend your time? I want to spend my time doing what I like to do. And, how happy I would be if I could find as many "likes" as possible in the rest of my life.


<Never made it without you...>
People often say, "You're tough that you kept going alone for more than 4 years." But I would say that I could never have made it without the support from my family, friends, company, people I met during the trip, and sponsors. They led me home safely with all the fantastic memories after the 4-year run. How can I express my gratitude to them all? The president of MIKI HOUSE (an industry leader of producing and distributing children's clothing), who is like a father, and 1,100 colleagues of mine gave me an exceptional "paid leave" for this trip. Their supportive heart protected me during my journey, leading me to the goal. The people I met around the world were kind enough to understand me very well. Many of them welcomed me warmly with all kinds of home-made foods. Their kindness gave me courage and strength. The sponsoring companies were also unbelievably helpful to me. My grandmother prayed for me in front of the family Buddhist altar everyday. Without all this support and encouragement, I could never have made it through this trip because it was the support and encouragement that gave me strength and kept reminding me of my original determination. At the very beginning, I thought I might be able to make it all by myself. But I was wrong. Unfortunately, every year, the JACC (Japan Adventure Cyclist Club) counts non-returning members from their overseas trips. The deaths of my fellow cyclists kept reminding me of the importance of taking ceaseless precautions for the worst situations I could imagine, while still envisioning the most positive image of travel. But dangers are often unforeseen. For example, one of my friends, who stayed at the same guest-house in Africa, was robbed of all his belongings. I am too afraid to express how much my family had to worry about me during my journey...


<at Home>
During the trip, I intentionally kept in my mind the best possible image of the future. Then, it has become my habit. Even after coming back to Japan, I can still see everything positively. I will take all the responsibility for whatever happens to me at any time and be appreciative of my fate. Now I am busy seeding for my future, while harvesting what I sowed. This is what the life is. That is why I cannot see any differences between my life during the trip and the one I have now in Japan. I am very fortunate that I can bring you good news that a book on my trip will be made and published sometime in September. In this book, I would like to express what I felt during the trip using a lot of photographs. All the royalties from the book will be donated to the people, who have been facing economic hardship, but who offered me the kindest help when I was visiting their countries. I have been asking myself, "How can I repay those people who saved my life?" I am hoping that this donation will help even though I know it is not enough, but it is the least I can offer them.


Average Riding Distance / Day: 100km (Europe), 100km (North America), 40-60km (Asia), 30-100km (South America) and 15-60km (Africa).
Longest Riding Distance / Day: 140km (France)
Shortest Riding Distance / Day: 2km (France)
Financial Cost: about 9,000,000 yen (US$ 83,000 / $1=108yen)
Bicycle: two touring bikes
Tire: 18 tires including studded tires
Things Carried: cooking equipment, camping equipment, changing clothes, short-wave radio, cameras, repairing kit, repairing tools, medicine, injector, maps, guidebooks, food, emergency food, family pictures, water filter, credit cards, traveler's checks, address book, bike helmet, mosquito net, etc.
Contacting Japan by: fax, email and telepathy
Overseas Contacting Base: Marubeni overseas branches (my father's connection), DHL offices, consulates of Japan, etc.
Languages: English and French were learned before the departure. Other languages such as Spanish, Swahili(Africa), Turkish, Urdu(Pakistan), Persian(Iran), Chinese, Tibetan, Zong(Bhutan), Lao(Laos), Portuguese were learned at the sites.
Diseases and Physical Problems: malaria, dysentery, bladder infection, tendinitis, amoebic diarrhea, various skin diseases, knee injury, neck injury and love injury.
Accommodation: youth hostels (Europe), villagers' houses and guest-houses (Africa), camping and cheap hotels (Asia), camping and motels (North America), camping and cheap hotels (South America). For camping, a two-man tent and down sleeping bag (for -30 degree Celsius) were used.
Food: When I was camping, I mostly cooked my own food at the tent, but sometime I was offered foods by locals. I used a gasoline-fueled stove. At high altitudes, I carried a pressure cooker in order to cook rice properly. When I was in town, I ate at local restaurants and markets. I sometimes ate KI or spirit to keep going.
Water: I carried a water filter, but I drank unfiltered water in most of the countries.
Hot and Cold: 54 degree Celsius at a desert in Iran, -30 degree Celsius at night in Tibet.
Sponsoring Companies: MIKI HOUSE, DHL JAPAN, KODAK, NIKON, OLYMPUS, MALAYSIA AIRLINE, JET SET, WORLD TSUSHO, PANASONIC, CARAVAN, CANNONDALE JAPAN, MITSUBISHI RAYON, CITIZEN, CATEYE, SHIMANO, NATIONAL TIRE, OGK, OGAWA TENT, INTERTEC, STAR SHOJI, LINK, IIC, ARAI TENT, OKURA SPORTS, BUSHU, EVERNEW, PATAGONIA. MONTBELL


MIKI HOUSE, Inc. allowed me to have paid leave for over a four-year period of time. Now I am back and working for them in the Human Resources department as I used to. I am also receiving many invitations from various schools to make a slide presentation and share my experiences with people. I am awfully busy now, but also really happy surrounded by many supportive friends and meeting wonderful people. All of you, who are reading this newsletter, helped me to become who I am right now. Thank you very much for your support and kindness. I sometimes notice that something about myself has been changed as a result of the trip. But I cannot word exactly what it is. For the time being, I would like to wander around this rather chaotic Japanese society and to act on what I believe in. I would like to thank you again for your support. I will end this rather short report for now, but we will keep in touch. My essay will be serialized in a monthly magazine "Miki House Love". It comes out in bookstores on the first day of the month. As for the information on my book and photo exhibitions, I will keep you up-dated on my homepage. I would be delighted if you would be interested.

 

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