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Saudi Arabian man cycles through Japan

A Saudi Arabian man cycled from the northern tip of the mainland of Hokkaido to the southern tip of Kyushu island on a journey that took 39 days.

Omar Al-Omair, 34, started his 3,152-km trek from Cape Soya on Oct. 16 and ended it at Cape Sata, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Nov. 23.

“I love cycling and I love Japan,” Al-Omair said, explaining why he took the journey, at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tokyo on Friday. “I had visited Japan twice in the past, but I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to bike through Japan to see what I had missed.”

Of his 38 nights on the road, he spent 32 in a tent. The other nights he stayed at a hotel or a mosque.

Along the way, he met so many kind people, he said.

With little Japanese ability, he would go to a restaurant and say “Hara hetta (I am hungry)” and “Watashi buta dame (I can’t eat pork),” he said.

He only ate fish and vegetables, and thus he made sure he ate halal foods, he said.

One rainy day in Akita Prefecture, he found a shop with an eave and asked the family who owned the store if he could put up his tent under the eave out of the rain.

Not only did the family let him use the space, they also gave him dinner. In the morning, they gave him hot water to wash with and tried to give him breakfast.

“I said I couldn’t take it. Then the lady gave me an envelope with a ¥1,000 note in it,” he said.

In Shizuoka Prefecture, he met a family and the mother gave him ¥3,000 because her son rode a motorcycle through the Japanese archipelago and was treated very well during his trip, Al-Omair quoted her as saying.

While the warmth of people he met was obvious, he experienced some very cold weather.

In Hokkaido, temperatures fell to below zero at night and staying in a tent was very cold, he said, adding he wore three layers of pants, four layers of shirts and three layers of socks.

The trip was the first time he had cycled such a long distance outside Saudi Arabia, but he is ready to do it again in another country.

“Yeah, it’s the first time I have done something like this. But it won’t be the last,” he said.