Ryokei Mifune, nicknamed Uni, is in the third week of a 3,000km journey across Australia from south to north on a non-motorized children’s scooter. The Japanese, 23, landed in Melbourne at the end of January and expects to take six months in his small transport to reach Cairns, on the country’s north-east coast.
For now, he appears to be the first to attempt a scooter crossing of Australia. “I like that no one has done this yet. I thought it might be a good challenge,” Uni told the New York Times (NYT). “If I were to copy something that others have already achieved, it wouldn’t be any fun,” he added.
Judging by his Instagram, the adventure wasn’t exactly a cakewalk. On the very first day, the traveler posted a photo of the condition of his legs, blackened and scraped from trying to push a scooter on roads that aren’t always paved.
According to the American newspaper, the Japanese trained as carpenters and did some odd jobs before deciding to cross Australia, one kilometer at a time. Despite the fact that he is not fluent in English, the originality of his journey, together with his unusual ease, have already won the attention of Australians. Wherever he goes, the NYT reports, he is met by reporters and people who want to see him and help him in some way, whether they offer lunch or a sheltered place to spend the night (he takes a tent with him).
An odyssey of this scale must be well planned, right? Not according to himself. “If you think about it too much, it’s just going to complicate things and make it harder to take a step forward. So I thought, if you go straight into it without a plan B, things will kind of fall into line.”
Leaping into the unknown is no longer completely new to him. In 2021, he completed a 10-month tour of all 47 prefectures in Japan on a similar scooter. “I had zero yen in my pockets when I left, but along the way I sold friendship bracelets for 100 yen each,” he explained to the NYT. “But this is Australia, a much longer trip, so I brought my debit card with me this time.”
What made you choose Australia? The desire to leave Japan to discover a new place and a full opportunity to open it on Google Maps. “I thought it could be an adventure,” he said.