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“The scenery, from the mountains to the coastal roads, is spectacular, striking, stunning.” Andrew’s TwoWheelsJapan story

Meet Andrew, who is taking on a 3 month cycling tour of Japan to raise funds.

Andrew Persons and a Japanese man stand in front of Andrew's bicycle during his TwoWheelsJapan cycle tour of Japan

Taking on an epic bike ride with TwoWheelsJapan: Andrew’s story

A beautiful view of fields in Japan with hills in the background

After the devastating loss of both his father (in 1995) and sister (in 2019) to brain tumours, Andrew Perons, 56, who lives in Japan, has taken a year’s break from work to take on an epic challenge and raise funds in their memory. His TwoWheelsJapan project sees him cycling to the north, east, south and west of each of the Japanese mainland islands (Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido).

Andrew set off at the beginning of May on a journey he expects to take him three months.

His aim is to raise funds for two organisations dedicated to researching cures for cancer:

The Brain Tumour Charity, and The Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research.

The journey so far

Andrew’s challenge has got off to an excellent start. He’s coping well with anticipated head winds, and making even faster progress than expected.

“The weather has been very kind; there have only been three  mornings of rain and things dried out quickly on those afternoons. The wind, on the contrary, has been generally adverse. I had expected this, as south/south-westerlies are the prevailing winds at this time of year.

Andrew Perons

“The people I have met have been wonderful – open, generous and curious.

“The food is excellent – tasty, nutritious and readily available. And I seem to be covering the distance fairly well – on average just under 80 km per day over the last 30 days, with two much-needed rest days included. The urge to keep making progress is strong and I do not want to lose momentum.”

A bowl of fish pieces with chopsticks resting on the side of the bowl

Japanese snack food including a tofu bar, chicken bar, sealed noodles, and a fruit juice
A tray of Japanese food

Raising awareness en route

“One of the most satisfying encounters so far was with the owner of a family-run Japanese inn on my second evening. She was adamant on charging me ¥400 (c. £2.00) to lock my bike to a fence in the car-park, even though it was not taking up space to prevent another car from parking. I challenged her logic but soon shrugged acceptance. I took it that she had been terribly busy over the past few days because of the Golden Week holiday. She was doing things by her book. She was not going be swayed.

“Later, I went down to the reception and offered her the ¥400 in cash. She told me that she had already charged it to my room so there was no need for cash. I returned the coins to my wallet. 

“I then showed her one of the leaflets I carry to explain that I am raising funds for charity. Handing it to her, I suggested she might like to consider donating that same ¥400. An hour later, as I went out to get some supper, she told me she had read the leaflet and expressed that she had been overcome by emotion. She became much more friendly and open in subsequent greetings and pleasantries for the rest of my stay. 

“I do not know, of course, whether or not she made a donation, but I was overjoyed that, even if only for that moment, she was able to remove herself from the stress of her work and change her perspective.

“I have met many other people who, as I have explained this fund-raising activity, have listened with curiosity and interest and said that they will make a donation. I expect these people in Japan will, if they do donate, do so to the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research (JFCR). Two Japanese inn owners have offered me cash on the spot and I have made donations through my credit card in their names.

A bird flying over a field as seen by cyclist Andrew on his TwoWheelsJapan cycle tour

“I’ve been taken aback by the flood of well-wishers in the UK and outside Japan, and the donations that have already been made to The Brain Tumour Charity. This is, simply, a wonderful reflection on the generosity and magnanimity of people –  traits which we, perhaps, too often overlook as we go about our daily lives.”

You can donate to Andrew’s fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/twowheelsjapan

Keeping on pedalling!

A beautiful river in Japan flows between two hills

Andrew’s goal is to complete the planned 7500 km route in 100 days, taking in sites of particular interest where he can. He explained:

“The route takes me to the North, East, South and West points of each of the four Japanese mainland islands.

“Now, taking in the beautiful scenery, seeing the different ways in which people live, meeting and learning from people en-route and observing the wildlife are beginning to take ever more precedence over going to see sites of interest, although the route planning will always take those sites into account, where possible.

“More concretely, in the 30 years I have lived here, I have not been to the northern part of Honshu or to the northern island of Hokkaido, and I am looking forward to learning what similarities and what differences the northern regions of Japan have when set against the country’s other regions.”       

It’s a unique way to honour the memory of his father and sister. And Andrew feels both would back his fundraising efforts:

“Both my father, John, and my sister, Kate, had they recovered from their brain tumours, would, I am absolutely certain, have spent some of their remaining time giving thanks to those who had cared for them and finding ways to support others who are going through or may, in the future, go through a similar misfortune.

“During his life, Dad had been active in raising funds for causes through his membership of the Round Table and the Rotary Club.

“Kate had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in her early twenties and through her life she had devoted time and energy to the support group for those suffering from the disease. She would never give in to it and, despite the awful impacts of that disease, she managed to live as full a life as anybody I know.

“In their place, I am giving some of my time to do what I can to help others, as I know each of them would have done.”

Follow the journey on TwoWheelsJapan

Andrew’s own updates on his journey can be found on his website: 

Or on Instagram:

A Japanese lake with mountains in the background

Get involved

If you have been inspired by Andrew’s story and want to organise your own fundraising event, tell us your plans. Our community fundraising team will support you every step of the way.