Adrift Japanese boat found in Hawaii returns home to be part of tsunami memorial display

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A crew from the DLNR Division of Engineering is helping return a Japanese fishing boat back home after being washed ashore here last year due to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The 20-foot long Daini Katsu Maru was one of the more than four dozen small fishing boats that washed ashore in whole, or in part, in Hawaii following the devastating March 11, 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. This boat was adrift for more than four years before finally coming ashore at Alan Davis Beach on Oahu’s eastern shore on April 22, 2015.

Designated as JTMD (for “Japan tsunami marine debris”) it was confirmed as originating from Ogatsu-town, Miyagi Prefecture, during the 2011 tsunami using the identification on its hull through coordinated efforts by the Japan Consulate and the Government of Japan.

On Saturday, the DLNR crew trucked the boat to a secured area at Pier 31 where it was loaded onto the Japanese training vessel Miyagi Maru for its return home.

Once back home, the fishing boat will become an integral part of a memorial display about the earthquake and tsunami at a local cultural center being planned by the newly formed Daini Katsu Maru Preservation Society.

Kiyoshi Ito, a fisherman from Ogatsu-town, was the last registered owner who passed away 13 years ago, according to his daughter, Sanae Ito. When she first heard the boat had been found in Hawaii, she said, “I thought it could be a message from my father to ‘not forget the Earthquake.’

“I know he would be so happy to hear that his ship is coming back,” she added.

The day the Daini Katsu Maru is scheduled to return home is March 11, 2016; the fifth anniversary of the tsunami that first set it adrift. Because of these coincidences, Ito said, “I feel that my father is guiding his boat back.”

The fishing boat is only the second JTMD item returned to Japan from Hawaii. In July 2014, DLNR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration partnered with Hawaiian Airlines to return a large wooden sign to Tanohata Village in Iwate Prefecture.

If anyone finds marine debris with identifiable information suspected to be JTMD, the DLNR requests that you report it with a description and location to their Marine Debris Hotline at (808) 587-0405, and email any photos to DLNR at dlnr.marine.debris@hawaii.gov, and to our federal partners at the NOAA Marine Debris Program at disasterdebris@noaa.gov.

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