Taipei, May 11 (CNA) A Japanese national who embarked on an islandwide bicycle tour to say thank you to Taiwan for its help in the wake of the devastating March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami arrived in Chiayi in southern Taiwan Friday.
The cyclist, Ryo Ambe, was greeted by Chiayi Mayor Huang Ming-hui and other city government officials who presented him with local cakes, a sports towel with the country's national flag, and Taiwanese pineapple and wax apples.
They also wrote their best wishes for Japan on postcards prepared by Ambe to send back to Japan.
Huang said that Taiwanese people, who also live in an earthquake-prone area, could feel the fear and helplessness of Japanese people after the devastating earthquake.
She said the Chiayi City government delivered 2,000 tents to Japan and sent nearly NT$20 million (US$680,271) for the relief effort to the Interchange Association, the de facto Japanese embassy in Taiwan in theabsence of diplomatic ties.
Taiwan eventually made a donation of around NT$6.6 billion.
Ambe said that although a year has passed since the earthquake, the warmth of Taiwan's people remains as seen by the passion he has experienced throughout his tour of Taiwan.
Ambe began his islandwide tour shortly after he arrived in Taiwan on April 25. He piloted his bicycle, which bears the national flags of both Japan and Taiwan, from Taipei to Yilan, Hualien, Taitung, Pingtung, Kaohsiung, and Tainan, before arriving in Chiayi City.
The 30-year-old man from Saitama prefecture in the Kanto region of the island of Honshu, quit his stable job in Tokyo after the earthquake.
He toured Canada and New Zealand on previous "thank you" journeys, and Taiwan is the third country where he is expressing his appreciation.
Part of his appreciation is being shown through 500 badges he had made with his own money that he is giving away to people cheering him along the way.
The badges either show the Japanese and Chinese words for "thank you" or an image representing the 22 cities and counties of Taiwan.
He has also shared his thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.
(By Chiang Chun-liang and Lilian Wu)