It took a while, but it’s finally a done deal. The ball we found on a quiet Olympic beach is finally back home in Otsuchi, Japan. This little town was especially hard-hit by the tsunami of March 11, 2011, and before the day was over, more than 105 of the population – including one of the coaches of the Otsuchi Soccer Club – had lost their lives. The ball we found had floated the 6000-mile route from Japan to the west coast of the US and arrived relatively intact. There were some pelagic barnacles stuck to one side and a little bit of fading that had lightly bleached the other, but it still held air and the writing that identified where it had come from was still legible.
It took so long to get returned because it is being used in a film about items from the tsunami that are being returned to their original owners. “Lost and Found” is scheduled to be out in 2014 and this trip to Japan was part of the filming of that documentary. We have been told that the coaches and the kids in the club were happy to see this part of their history back home again and we are certainly pleased that it got back to where it belongs.
With all the debris that is accumulating on beaches all over the north Pacific, it is easy to forget that there some of it tells a human story as well. It’s trash, it’s pollution, but sometimes that’s only because of where it is. It may not be true about fishing buoys and plastic bottles, but some of the items wedged in under drift logs or tossed up into the sedges mean something to someone, and on the rare occasion that they actually can get them back, it is possible to pull a little joy off the beach as well.