The motorcycle’s license plate helped to find its owner, Ikuo Yokoyama, a 29-year-old motorbike enthusiast who lost his home and three family members in the tsunami in March last year.

He said: “I’m very thankful that it came back. I would like to thank the man who found my bike in person, but because it’s hard to do that, I’d like to thank him here right now.”

The bike washed up on the coast of an island in British Columbia on April 18, along with some golf clubs and camping gear, and was discovered by Peter Mark, who said it was marred with “a lot of corrosion, a lot of rust”.

The shop Yokoyama bought the Harley Davidson from is hoping to ship it back to Japan and restore it.

It is one of the first items in a wave of debris that is heading towards the west coast of North America, most of which will wash up on shores until 2013.

The bike is believed to have floated around 4,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean from Miyagi, a Japanese prefecture that was hit hard by the tsunami.