MINAMISANRIKU, MIYAGI PREF. – A spherical buoy found on the coast of Middleton Island in the Gulf of Alaska after apparently being swept away in the March 2011 tsunami was one of several used for the sign of a restaurant in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, 5,000 km away.
The buoy was found by David Baxter, 51, in late February when he was walking along a beach.
Sakiko Miura, 63, owner of the tsunami-wrecked Keimeimaru restaurant, said she has confirmed the buoy is hers by seeing a photo sent from Baxter.
“As (part of) the restaurant’s sign has been found, I made up my mind to reopen it,” said Miura, adding she wants the buoy returned. Baxter’s 44-year-old Japanese wife, Yumi, said, “We want to return it to the owner.”
Baxter had also found on a soccer ball and a volleyball that were swept away in the tsunami. The couple are planning to visit Japan in June, hoping to hand the balls back to their teenage owners.
The buoy is a type normally used to fix rafts and nets for fish farming. Miura was using three of them attached to each other at her restaurant.
Miura said she was about to give up reopening the restaurant as it and her home were destroyed in the tsunami, causing her to live in temporary housing.
But she said that after a customer told her a buoy like the one used in the sign was shown on TV about the sports balls, she contacted a news group in April and got the photo from Baxter.