Three Japanese men touring the world on foot and by bicycle and with a traditional rickshaw in tow are currently turning heads in Thailand.
Yuji Suzuki and Keisuke Takahashi, who with fellow 29-year-old Ken Hirano aim to visit five continents to promote Japanese culture and tourism, were on Tuesday heading towards Bangkok from Pattaya City, where they had stayed overnight. Hirano was recuperating from an illness.
The trio – all former rickshaw-tour guides in Tokyo – left Japan on February 5 and have since covered most of the route on foot, pulling an old-fashioned passenger cart weighing 90 kilograms.
In 250 days, they have been to Shanghai, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Cambodia. They entered Thailand at Sa Kaew, and from here will head to India, Australia, the United States and Europe.
Suzuki and Takahashi told reporters in Pattaya their “dream mission” was to spend three years travelling the world to promote Japan and its culture.
The trio want to give people who’ve never visited Japan a taste of the culture with their rickshaw, a common means of conveyance in the olden days, said Suzuki, who’s been a “rickshaw runner” since 2013. Rickshaws are to feature in the opening ceremonies of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, he said.
The three, backed by the Japanese government and private sector, underwent physical training to prepare for the carefully planned trek, Suzuki said. A large number of their countrymen gathered to cheer them on as they left Japan.
The trio’s progress can be followed on the Facebook page “RickshawPJ”, although the text is in Japanese.