Tsunami-swept signboard that washed up in Hawaii returns to Iwate


A signboard that was swept out to sea in the March 2011 tsunami and washed up on a Hawaiian island was returned Wednesday to its home village in Iwate Prefecture.

The 2.9-meter-wide, 30-cm-long signboard for a public housing complex in the village of Tanohata traveled some 6,000 km on its journey back from Oahu Island to the village office, where it was welcomed by about 20 officials.

Last October, Hawaiian authorities notified the Japanese Consulate General in Honolulu about the discovery of the wooden sign. It was airlifted to Sendai Airport last Friday and transported to the village by truck.

“I was so surprised to hear it had been washed up on Hawaii, but local people treated the item carefully as they cared about disaster-hit areas. I don’t know how to express my feeling as it came back from far away,” village official Yoshio Osawa said.

The sign was originally part of a two-floor wooden apartment building and bore the name of the housing complex — now partially unreadable due to damage from the tsunami.

The village plans to include the sign in a memorial exhibition dedicated to the Great East Japan Earthquake.

In 2012, a volleyball that had drifted away from the village was also discovered overseas.