National

Flying the friendly skies: Okinawa student reunites with mystery benefactor who loaned him airfare

Kyodo

A high school student in Okinawa Prefecture reunited Tuesday with an unknown benefactor who lent him money when he lost his wallet to buy a ticket for a flight, after he managed to get in touch with him with the help of local newspapers.

Soma Sakimoto, a 17-year-old second-year student at Okinawa Technical High School in Naha, met Hiroshi Inoya, a doctor from Saitama Prefecture, at the school and returned the ¥60,000 he had borrowed. Sakimoto also presented Inoya, 68, with a handmade paperweight engraved with their names as well as kanji characters meaning “Thank you.”

On April 24, Sakimoto was on his way to his hometown on Yonaguni Island in Okinawa to attend his uncle’s funeral. When he arrived at Naha Airport Station, the last station on the monorail line, he noticed that he had lost his wallet.

Inoya approached the student and asked what was wrong. Sakimoto explained, and Inoya handed him ¥60,000 just moments before the train’s doors closed. Because of his kind act, the student was able to catch his flight.

Although Sakimoto had accepted the money, he forgot to ask for Inoya’s name or contact details — which would have allowed him to repay the debt.

Later, after seeking advice from his teacher, Sakimoto told local newspapers about his experience and the newspapers published a story on him.

One of Inoya’s colleagues saw the article when it was released online on May 10 and told the doctor who then phoned the school, which led to the pair’s reunion.

Inoya, a Naha native who now lives in the town of Miyoshi in Saitama Prefecture, received the gift from Sakimoto with delight. He gave the student a new wallet as a gift and told him “not to lose it again.”

Sakimoto’s original wallet was found at the station where he boarded the train. When he retrieved it, all the cash was still inside.

“I will not forget these feelings of gratitude, and I want to become the kind of person who will lend a hand to people in need of help,” Sakimoto said.