Jean Jacques Clarasso, 59, a Frenchman of Italian origin, recently left Nice, in France (where he lives, having recently retired from his job in the government offices of the Principality of Monaco), to travel to Japan on his Ape Piaggio 50 (in France, the compact cargo three-wheeler is known as the “triporteur”).
On Sunday 3 February 2019, Jean Jacques took a break in Città di Castello (Perugia, Central Italy), to meet relatives, recount his adventure to friends at the local Vespa Club, and also meet the local authorities.
The French traveller expects to reach Tokyo by September 2019, where he plans to watch the Rugby World Cup, a sport he is passionate about. On the road with his Ape, he will be driving more than 15,000 kilometres, crossing at least 15 countries and taking 5 ferries. The trip will take 8 months.
It took him nine months to prepare for the journey and equip the Ape, which has been fitted with an aluminium box (a comfortable sleeping berth) and roll-down covers. Clarasso explained that the idea combines his two great loves, travel and sport. But why did he choose the Ape? Interviewers ask him. His reply: “Because it’s an unusual and cheerful means of transport, which attracts friends and hospitality. Because you travel at low speeds, so you can enjoy the scenery and get to know the people you meet along the way. And lastly because it allows me to take everything I need for the duration of the trip.”
The Nice-Tokyo trip also has a charitable purpose: to tell people about the ELA (the European Leukodystrophy Association, which brings patients’ families together for assistance, treatment and to promote research), and to raise funds for the association, of which he is a supporter. “My son Arnaud has leukodystrophy, which is a rare disease of the nervous system,” says Clarasso. “At birth, his life expectancy was about ten years, but thanks to scientific research and the activities of bodies like the ELA, today he is 24.”