A Harley-Davidson motorcycle, recovered on the coast of British Columbia after drifting for more than a year and 4,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean following last year's tsunami in Japan will be preserved by the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a memorial to the tragedy that claimed more than 15,000 lives, in accordance with the wishes of its owner, Ikuo Yokoyama.
The remarkable story of the 2004 FXSTB Softail Night Train motorcycle's survival and recovery by Canadian Peter Mark made international headlines after he found it washed ashore on a remote beach on British Columbia's Graham Island at low tide. Mark discovered the motorcycle, still bearing its Japanese licence plate, along with several other items, in the remains of an insulated cargo van container where the motorcycle was being stored by Yokoyama prior to the tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.
Working with news agencies and representatives from Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada, and Harley-Davidson Japan, contact was made with 29-year-old Yokoyama, who lost his home and currently lives in temporary housing in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Harley-Davidson Motor Company extended an offer to return the bike to him and to restore it to running condition. Still struggling to rebuild his life in the aftermath of the disaster, which claimed the lives of three of his relatives, Yokoyama respectfully declined. Although grateful for the offer to repatriate his motorcycle and touched by the outpouring of support from Harley motorcycle riders around the world, Yokoyama's strong desire instead is for his bike to be preserved in the Harley-Davidson Museum, in honour of those whose lives were lost or forever changed by the disaster.
"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. 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. I cannot even begin to comprehend the loss of family, friends, and community," said Peter Mark. "I think it is fitting that the Harley (motorcycle), 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. 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."
The motorcycle was recovered by Peter Mark along with the help of friends and transported to Victoria with support from Ralph Tieleman and Steve Drane of Steve Drane Harley-Davidson who commented, "I have always felt that Harley-Davidson motorcycles have a soul, their owners have an emotional attachment to their bikes. I wanted to help reunite this Harley-Davidson with its owner." It has since been transferred to Deeley Harley-Davidson Canada, in Vancouver. Plans for its transportation to and display at the Harley-Davidson Museum, are being developed.
"The Harley-Davidson Museum is honoured to receive this amazing motorcycle to ensure that its condition is preserved and can be displayed as a memorial to the Japan tsunami tragedy," said Bill Davidson, Vice President of the Harley-Davidson Museum.