Another year passes since the horrific events in Tohoku Japan, where thousands of lives were changed beyond recognition.
To this day, families and businesses are still picking up the pieces from the devastating earthquake, the tsunami and the subsequent radiation that was being emitted from the destroyed nuclear reactor in Fukushima along the stunning Pacific coastline.
Having lived in Japan for nearly 10 years, I have also built up my business and life here. The thought of having this taken away from me in the blink of an eye would keep me awake at night. As a British citizen here in this fascinating country, I believe, along with many of my colleagues and fellow countrymen, that it is important to help and support those who need us the most, irrespective of where we are from and also to give something back to the people of the region who are slowly rebuilding their lives.
This year a group of 30 Japanese and international friends calling ourselves the Knights in White Lycra (there is a song in that too) will be embarking on what has become an annual pilgrimage to the region. We will aim to raise not only awareness but also funds to support some of the initiatives that are currently happening there. Last year we donated over 5.5 million yen through a charity O.G.A. FOR AID, who supported the building of a small vegetable processing factory in the area. This factory achieved a turnover of 8 million yen in its first year. This year the funds raised will be going towards the “Place to Grow” initiative in the Minamisanriku area. This will provide an after-school educational space for children to learn about the agricultural industry and ultimately to nurture them into a livelihood for themselves and to create employment in the tsunami devastated area of Tohoku, Japan.
So how are we raising awareness? It’s simple. We cycle 500 km each year from Nihonbashi all the way to our destination and like last year it will be Minamisanriku where we will arrive. Last year we were greeted by over 100 residents from the town, which has seen a plethora of changes since 3/11 but still there is a long way to go before it gets back to how it was.
For us, the satisfaction not only comes from fundraising but also seeing how the people react to us when we arrive. Last year I am not exaggerating when I say there were a few tears, too. It was very emotional, especially after completing the challenge we were were warned by the local police for turning right at a green light!
For more information about us as a group, supporting our cause and the OGA project please click here.
UPDATE: A big thank you to all who contributed, we managed to raise 6.2 million yen (and still counting). Read about our 2015 charity ride (updated 8 June 2015)!