NEW YORK — Harley-Davidson Motor Co. opened an exhibit Wednesday in its Milwaukee museum featuring a motorcycle found washed up in Canada in April and belonging to tsunami survivor Ikuo Yokoyama.
|Sea hog: A Harley-Davidson washed away from Miyagi by the 3/11 tsunami and found in April on Canada's shores is put on display Wednesday at the firm's museum in Milwaukee. HARLEY-DAVIDSON MUSEUM / KYODO
Calling the bike a "personal object" that "people can relate to," the museum's senior curator, Kristen Jones, said the special display is intended to honor the lives lost or changed forever by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
"For Harley owners, their bikes are an extension of themselves," Jones said. "I think that for people to see that and to see how this bike has been affected, it really gives them some insight into how the people of Japan have been affected."
The company originally offered to have the 2004 Harley-Davidson FXSTB Softail Night Train restored and returned to Yokoyama, 29, who lost three family members in last year's natural disasters. Instead, he asked that it be used as a reminder of the more than 18,500 people who perished on March 11.
The bike is accompanied by pictures showing the location where it was found on the shores of Graham Island off British Columbia by beachcomber Peter Mark, as well as a wall-size map showing the more than 6,000 km journey it took from the town of Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture.
Jones said staff made a "conscious decision" not to completely wash off sand and salt from the bike's Pacific trek as it provides a "high visual impact."
"Just seeing that is really a reminder of not only what this bike has been through in terms of its journey, but of the power of Mother Nature," she said. "It was a decision that we had to weigh very carefully."
Harley-Davidson, whose foundation donated $250,000 last year to help tsunami and earthquake survivors, hopes both Yokoyama and the bike's finder, Mark, can visit the museum to view the exhibit firsthand.