Tsunami bike unveiled at Harley-Davidson Museum

MILWAUKEE – A special bike is on display at the Harley-Davidson Museum.

It's known as the "tsunami bike." The bike traveled all the way across the Pacific Ocean following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last year.

On the first floor of the museum stands the rusty and corroded 2004 Harley-Davidson Softail Night Train.  It clearly put up quite a fight against Mother Nature - a journey dating back more than a year and a half.

The bike was swept into the sea during the tsunami March 2011 and traveled 4,000 miles inside a cargo container.  A year later, it washed up on a remote island off the coast of British Columbia.

A man by the name of Peter Mark made the discovery.

“He could tell right away this was someone's belongings -- particularly when he saw the Japanese license plate on the back,” Brook Smith, Harley-Davidson Museum Project Manager of Communications said.

After some help from Harley, the bike was traced back to Ikuo Yokoyama - a survivor of the earthquake and tsunami. 15,000 were killed, including some of Yokoyama's family members.  His town was flooded and he lost his home, but the one thing that remained intact, he learned, was his motorcycle.

“As you can imagine, his life was significantly impacted by the devastating tsunami,” Smith said.

Instead of having the bike returned to him, he had a special request.

“He actually requested that we bring the motorcycle here to the Harley-Davidson Museum for display as a memorial to all the victims from the tsunami,” Smith said.

The rare, surviving set of wheels is now a part of the museum's permanent collection for the public to see.

“Keeping it intact certainly shows the journey of the motorcycle, but it also shows the power of Mother Nature,” senior curator Kristen Jones said.

Jones says the bike helps shed light on one of the world's most tragic natural disasters and serves as a tribute to the lives lost and forever changed.

Harley-Davidson has offered to fly Yokoyama to the museum and see the bike, which he has yet to accept.  He currently lives in temporary housing in Japan’s Miyagi prefecture.