It has been a month since we first reported about the Harley-Davidson motorcycle that washed up on Canadian soil, which was the first major piece of debris to hit North American soil from the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Remarkable in its own right, the American-made motorcycle was being stored in the back of box truck before the earthquake, and during the tsunami, the box separated from the vehicle and ended up floating across the Pacific Ocean over the past year.
Landing on Graham Island of British Columbia, the Harley has been a reminder of the devastation and power of the Japanese disaster, and immediately a search was conducted to find the bike’s owner, if he was still alive. Using the VIN and license plate, which were still readable on the motorcycle, Ikuo Yokoyama was ultimately identified as the owner of the Harley-Davidson Softail Night Train, and efforts were put in place to put the motorcyclist back in possession of his Harley-Davidson, which is where this story gets interesting.
With Harley-Davidson looking to pick up the tab to restore and return the Softail to Yokoyama-san, the 29-year-old, who had been living in a temporary housing facility after losing his house, declined the offer. Even after losing three of his immediate family members in the tsunami, the Japanese motorcyclist refused to be given any preferential treatment, citing the numerous other Japanese citizens that needed the help far more than he did.
Instead of returning home to Japan, the 2004 Harley-Davidson FXSTB Softail Night Train will go on display in the Harley-Davidson museum in its unaltered state, as a memorial to the 15,000+ people who lost their lives in the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan.
“It is truly amazing that my Harley-Davidson motorcycle was recovered in Canada after drifting for more than a year,” said Ikuo Yokoyama. “I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to Peter Mark, the finder of my motorcycle. Due to circumstances caused by the disaster, I have been so far unable to visit him in Canada to convey my gratitude.”
“Since the motorcycle was recovered, I have discussed with many people about what to do with it. I would be delighted if it could be preserved in its current condition and exhibited to the many visitors to the Harley-Davidson Museum as a memorial to a tragedy that claimed thousands of lives,” added Yokoyama.
“I am very grateful to Harley-Davidson for offering me an opportunity to visit the museum, and I would like to do that when things have calmed down. At the same time, I would like to meet Peter, who recovered my motorcycle, to express my gratitude. Finally, I would like to thank all people around the world once again for their wholehearted support of the areas hit by the earthquake and tsunami. I would like to ask them to help convey messages from the Japanese people about the tragedy of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which was a disaster of historic proportions.”
“My heart really goes out to Ikuo Yokoyama and all the survivors of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami for everything that was taken from them,” said Peter Mark, the Canadian who found the washed-up motorcycle. “I cannot even begin to comprehend the loss of family, friends, and community. I think it is fitting that the Harley, which was swept across the Pacific Ocean by the tsunami, will end up in the Harley-Davidson Museum as a memorial to that tragic event. It has an interesting and powerful story to convey preserved in its current state.”
“I look forward to one day meeting Mr. Yokoyama face-to-face,” added Mark. “I would also like to express my gratitude to all those that have taken part in the retrieval of the motorcycle, especially Ralph Tieleman, Steve Drane, and Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada.”
Source: Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada