International Cyclists Tour Japan To Promote Environmental Awareness

BEE Japan Riders Alishan Cafe photo

In a previous post, we talked about BEE Japan (Bicycle for Everyone's Earth), an initiative that started here in Japan 1997. Now in its 11th year BEE Japan is going strong, using Flickr to show their progress. Every year they are attracting cyclists committed to the green cause despite the hardship of the journey. Cycling across Japan sounds cool, doesn't it, but what does it mean on a daily basis? How do they promote environmental awareness and green living in Japan?On August 31 this year's team stopped in Tokyo during their trans-Japan tour. Riders and others mingled with a crowd of supporters of sustainable living in alternative Shimokitazawa at the Bee Japan Charity Concert. Let's meet some of this year's riders and hear their story. The international team includes, amongst others: Ami from Canada, Colin from Scotland, Amiena and Cat both from the US, Fan from China and Juan Carlos from Columbia. Cat loves cooking and finds it a real challenge to prepare meals for six people on a tiny stove. She tells us about the "organic food paradise" at Alishan Organic Center where they stayed for one day to help with a river cleanup in the local neighborhood and help people on a farm.

US rider cat loves healthy food photo

US Rider, Cat loves healthy food

When they asked how they could help, they were offered to cook dinner - and they jumped at the opportunity. Cat and the other passionate foodies found crates of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables in the roomy kitchen. They got down to work and created a delicious feast for the crew of the farm and themselves. This is rather an exception than the norm during the ride. Eating well to have enough strength for next day is very difficult. The riders' food intake is vegetarian, organic and ideally locally produced. Temptation is looming but riders have no food and drinks from the in Japan omnipresent convenience stores and vending machines.

Ken, one of last year's riders and the Tokyo events organizer for BEE Japan this year, tells us that he quit his job in order to participate in BEE Japan. Ken is Japanese but lives in the US. A two months break from work to ride the bicycle for the green cause is difficult to negotiate with employers (but still worth a try) in the West but virtually impossible in Japan. Japanese corporations barely got started to fulfill their CSR commitments, employers find it difficult to perceive, not to mention support, individual initiative for a good cause. Let's hope this will change and BEE Japan sees more Japanese participants in the future!

BEE Japan's arduous 2 months cycle tour takes them across the whole length of Japan from Hokkaido in the North via Honshu and Shikoku to Kyushu in the South. Altogether this is a 2,500km journey. Riding every day between 70km to 90km is a severe challenge. However, what is really tough, they tell us, are the conditions when not riding, like camping out in random locations, not having the opportunity to shower, swarms of mosquitoes, the heat and humidity (imagine a temperature of over 30 degree and a humidity of over 70 per cent) and treacherous rainfalls and thunderstorms. They are also carrying all their belongings, camping and cooking equipment plus food supplies on their bikes. Supporting sustainability does not come easy. Good luck and keep going gals and guys. Or as the Japanese say: Gambatte!

Written by Alena Eckelmann at

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