Marry me! Man makes world’s biggest proposal with a little help from GPS

The memorable "Marry me" proposal Yasushi Takahashi created for his girlfriend. Photo: SCMP

In July 2008, company employee Yasushi Takahashi decided he wanted to ask his girlfriend of eight years to marry him and he was determined to make it “the world’s biggest proposal”. So he quit his job and went off on a 6-month journey across Japan – on foot and by car, ferry and bicycle.

After 7,160km of travel that took him through 40 of the country’s 47 prefectures, Takahashi’s unique marriage proposal was finally ready.

The global positioning system (GPS) records of his journey spelled out the phrase “Marry me” across the Japanese archipelago, covering the Honshu main island, as well as Kyushu and Shikoku in the southwest.

It was accompanied by an arrow-struck heart shape over the northernmost island of Hokkaido.

Fortunately, his girlfriend said yes. “It was a big surprise,” she was quoted by Takahashi as saying. “I felt the greatest love in the world.”

GPS artist Yasushi Takahashi. Photo: SCMP

Takahashi received his own surprise a few years later – the Guinness World Record for the largest GPS drawing by an individual.

When the couple went to London for their honeymoon in June 2010, Takahashi, who goes by the name Yassan for his artworks, looked up the map and trekked the shape of a gigantic heart in the British capital to dedicate to his bride.

Among his more recent GPS drawing projects, Takahashi completed a year-long, 676km journey on foot and by bicycle along the coastline of Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, and its border with other prefectures to “draw” a full-scale “Chiba kun”, a mascot whose side-view figure is shaped like the prefecture.

In picking the routes, priority is given to perfecting the resulting appearance on the GPS drawing and so Takahashi often has to trek through mountain paths inaccessible by car.

“I used to be the type who is more into academics and arts, but now I have turned into the sporting kind,” the Tokyo University of the Arts graduate quipped. He has travelled about 20,000km in total for GPS drawing projects over the past six-and-a-half years.

In the autumn of last year, Takahashi was selected as one of three international models to appear in a promotion campaign for a major global brand for outdoor gear to illustrate how walking can lead to extraordinary experiences. Takahashi aspires to become like Ino Tadataka (1745-1818), the Japanese surveyor and cartographer known for completing the first map covering the whole of Japan. “I want to walk the coastlines and map the Japanese archipelago, just like Tadataka did,” he said.