To the People of JapanI was fortunate enough to visit Japan twice in the last few years. The first time I was a guest of Kawasaki, and as part of the adventure I got to ride the awesome ZX-6R around Autopolis (Kawasaki’s own racetrack) for two days.
The second trip I was a guest of Honda, and this time I got to ride the high-tech VFR1200 around Sugo (very close to Sendai) for the day. Both trips involved considerable traveling around Japan visiting factories, motorcycle collections, museums, and shipyards. I shuttled through several airports, stayed in lots of hotels, ate in many restaurants and generally absorbed the culture of Japan. My overriding impression – apart from how immaculate everything in Japan is kept – was the overwhelming friendliness and genuine hospitality of the Japanese people. Young and old, man and woman, without exception, everyone was quick to smile, incredibly polite, and seemed just delighted to help a tourist who spoke nothing of their language. Every factory visit was finished with a "Waving Ceremony," where all the workers would file outside, line up, and wave and laugh and smile and clap as our tour bus pulled out. I’ve never see anything before like it, and I was absolutely impressed by their genuine warmth.The Japanese themselves have been directly responsible for much pleasure for me in the 35 years I’ve been into motorcycles. I have at various times owned several different models from each of the four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers and so I feel as though I, without a doubt, owe the Japanese a considerable debt of gratitude; a very big thank you. The good times have definitely rolled for me, over and over again.The recent horrific images coming from Japan were sobering to watch on TV let alone what they must have been to experience in person. As a survivor of the Northridge Calif. earthquake in the mid-nineties (I was violently thrown out of bed and woke up in confused terror lying on the floor in a pitch black room) I can only imagine the terror the poor people of Sendai must have gone through. Some were unfortunate enough not to have survived, while others "merely" lost everything they had as it washed away in the violent tsunami that the swept across their home.To the people of Japan, and to our industry sisters and brothers both in this country and based in the homeland, Ultimate MotorCycling extends our deepest sympathies and best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. The Japanese people are truly decent and kind. Luckily they are also resourceful and resilient. They didn’t deserve this tragedy, but hard though it may be to imagine at this moment, I’m sure they will come out of it even stronger than before-and I for one will be praying hard for them.You can make a donation here at the American Red Cross to the people of Japan.