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There are many diehard Timberwolves fans, but it's unlikely anyone travels farther to cheer them on every year than Japanese superfan Mitsuaki Ohno.

Ohno, a 46-year-old IT engineer who lives in Kawasaki, Japan, with his wife, flies 6,000 miles every year to attend several Wolves games. He's kept this tradition going since Kevin Garnett's rookie year in 1995, and always makes a second trip when the Wolves reach the playoffs.

But his love of the Wolves goes all the way back to the team's inception in 1989. Ohno lived in Rochester during middle school when his dad had a temporary job at IBM.

Although it's been a rough series for the Wolves against the Dallas Mavericks, Ohno said he had an unforgettable time traveling to Denver to watch the dramatic Game 7 win over the Nuggets. He also visited Minneapolis following the Denver win for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

"I never thought these kinds of memories and experiences would be possible," he said in a phone interview before flying back to Japan last week.

As first reported by Minnesota Public Radio, Ohno quickly became hooked on the team as a kid after watching them play at the Metrodome for the inaugural season before his family moved back to Japan in 1990.

Despite the distance, he's been a season-ticket holder for more than 20 years, and attends at least a few games a year.

But it's not just the Timberwolves that makes Ohno want to return to Minnesota. He said it's also the culture.

"When I was a student, everyone helped me and was so kind, so that's why I want to come back so often," he said.

The Wolves lost in the one home playoff game Ohno attended, but he had a special moment going onto the court afterward to chat with the team's TV analyst Jim Petersen, and to meet Karl-Anthony Towns' girlfriend, Jordyn Woods, and her mother, who had already heard about his Wolves fever.

"They were like, 'We saw your story! You're the man!'" Ohno recalled.

Ohno also was glad to be able to see his longtime English tutor who lives in Minnesota and recently recovered from a stroke.

Because Ohno can't attend every game, he gives his seat for most of the year to Japanese exchange students through his connections at the University of Minnesota.

Ohno has also become a bit of an ambassador for young basketball players and students in Japan who want to see an NBA game live. Collaborating with a youth basketball coach in Japan, Ohno takes groups of Japanese students on weeklong trips to Minneapolis to see a Timberwolves game and spend some time meeting U students.

He said he thinks it's important for Japanese students to have that cultural exchange and see what life is like in the U.S. when they are considering their college options.

"If the kids are only studying in Japan, they never see what the world is like," Ohno said. "So I think it's good for them to see another country and what students in other countries are doing."

While basketball is not as popular as baseball in Japan, Ohno said the sport's popularity has risen. In 2016, Japan created its own professional basketball league, titled the B.League.

Ohno reports that much of the basketball coverage on Japanese TV focuses on the Los Angeles Lakers since one of their players, Rui Hachimura, is from Japan.

When looking back at this year's Timberwolves season, Ohno said he was shocked at how far the team has made it in the playoffs. He planned to make another trip to Minnesota if the Wolves made it to the championship round. And even if the Wolves' season ends sooner, he plans to come back for games next year.