The year was 1984. Japanese martial artist Mr. Miyagi took young Danny under his wing and trained him to become a martial artist. Now, 32 years after Hollywood blockbuster The Karate Kid was released, life imitates art, kinda: Miyagi is taking Daini to its final destination.
In what a Japanese captain called an “act of charity,” 20-foot fishing boat Daini Katsu Maru, adrift for more than four years following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, was put aboard much-larger Japanese training vessel Miyagi Maru to be sent back home last weekend.
The Daini Katsu Maru was one of the more than four-dozen small fishing boats that washed ashore in Hawai‘i after the tsunami. The boat turned up at Alan Davis Beach on O‘ahu’s Eastside April 22, 2015. Its identification confirmed it came from Ogatsu-town, Miyagi Prefecture, during the 2011 tsunami, and it was designated as JTMD, or Japan Tsunami Marine Debri.
Last Saturday, a crew from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Engineering, trucked the boat to a secured area at Pier 31 on O‘ahu, where it was loaded onto the Miyagi Maru, owned by the Government of Miyagi Prefecture, for its return home.
The captain of the Miyagi Maru, working with Honolulu-based shipping agent Transmarine Navigation Corporation, agreed to take the Daini Katsu Maru back to Japan as “an act of charity,” according to DLNR.
In Japan, the Daini Katsu Maru is slated to become an integral part of a memorial display about the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami at a local cultural center planned by the newly formed Daini Katsu Maru Preservation Society.
‘My Father Is Guiding His Boat Back’
Kiyoshi Ito, a fisherman from Ogatsu-town, was the last registered owner, but he died away 13 years ago, according to his daughter, Sanae Ito.
“I thought it could be a message from my father to ‘not forget the earthquake,’” she said when she first heard boat had been found in Hawai‘i.
The Ito family’s home and all of their belongings were washed away along with the rest of Ogatsu-town during the 2011 tsunami.
“I know he would be so happy to hear that his ship is coming back,” Sanae Ito said as she arranged for the return of the boat to Japan, according to DLNR.
The Miyagi Maru’s stay in Honolulu coincides with her father’s birthday Feb. 22, and the day the Daini Katsu Maru is scheduled to return home via the Miyagi Maru is March 11; the fifth anniversary of the tsunami that set it adrift.
“I feel that my father is guiding his boat back,” Sanae Ito said.
Expert: Daini ‘Wandered’ in Garbage Patch for a Year
The path the Daini Katsu Maru followed to Hawai‘i is probably not unlike that of much of the large-sized JTMD that has washed ashore here since 2012, when the first confirmed JTMD item arrived, according to DLNF.
Senior Researcher Nikolai Maximenko of the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawai‘i, School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology and his team have been tracing the paths of various types of JTMD for the past five years.
They use sophisticated modeling to predict surface currents and the effects of wind and wind waves on items adrift in the ocean.
“This boat did not move on a straight line, as evidenced by the length of time it took for it to wash ashore,” Maximenko said about the Daini Katsu Maru. “Our modeling shows it drifted eastward for about two years, before getting caught up in the so-called North Pacific Garbage Patch (convergence zone). We then think it wandered there for a year or more, before currents sent it farther east and then on a southwestern trajectory toward Hawai‘i and where it was found on the east O‘ahu beach.”
Predictions of tsunami debris flow are important especially for marine navigational safety reasons. For example, only two of four very large floating boat docks that washed away from Port Misawa, Japan, during the 2011 tsunami have been found, one in Oregon, and one in Washington State. The whereabouts of the other two are currently unknown, though one of them was briefly sighted in waters north of Maui in late 2012, and Maximenko’s team plotted probable paths away from Hawai‘i based on location and conditions of its last reported sighting. Maximenko said these floating structures could pose serious navigational hazards to all vessels at sea.
The Daini Katsu Maru is only the second JTMD item returned to Japan from Hawai‘i. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and to their federal partners at the NOAA Marine Debris Program at email@example.com.