Thanks to efforts at the Spirit Bear Lodge in Klemtu

Japanese boat swept away in 2011 tsunami reunited with its owner in Klemtu

Scallop fisherman Kou Sasaki, of Ofunato, Japan, crossed the Pacific Ocean last week to arrive in the tiny village of Klemtu

Scallop fisherman Kou Sasaki, of Ofunato, Japan, crossed the Pacific Ocean last week to arrive in the tiny village of Klemtu where his trusty fishing vessel was waiting for him.

Sasaki’s boat was swept out to sea four years ago when the tsunami struck his village. It drifted thousands of miles across the pacific, along with one million tonnes of debris, in the aftermath of the disaster which killed over 15,000 people in Japan on March 11, 2011.

After its lengthy journey, the boat arrived in Klemtu, where it was salvaged by a guide at the Spirit Bear Lodge in 2013. They cleaned it up for use in their bear-viewing tours, where tourists from all over the world come to view the famed Spirit Bears.

Tim McGrady, manager of the Spirit Bear Lodge, was curious about the vessel and had made some initial efforts to find the owner, but he didn’t get very far.

But last year a Japanese guest Yoshi Karasawa translated the boat’s name, “Twin Pines,” and was intrigued enough to spread the word to her contacts in her homeland. Sasaki was located and plans were set in motion to bring him to the tiny village to be reunited with his beloved boat.

“They keep meticulous records in Japan and she was able to track it down by its numbers,” said McGrady. “It took about a year to get him here and it was really fun, really worthwhile.”

Karasawa, the fisherman and his wife made the long trek to Klemtu last week and stayed for two nights at the Spirit Bear Lodge. It made for some emotional moments when Sasaki saw his boat again. He jumped into its bow and began to weep, saying “We are together again.”

The community of Klemtu came together to welcome Sasaki and his wife, taking them for a bear-viewing tour on his boat, and performing a welcoming and blessing ceremony in the Big House for their special guests. Sasaki and his wife were fortunate to view the spirit bears, witness spawning salmon, and experience the magic of the B.C. coast.

“This is a community that lives and breathes boats, for thousands of years,” McGrady said. “So I think people have a real affinity for someone like Mr. Sasaki. There’s a lot of common ground.”

While Sasaki thoroughly enjoyed his reunion with his boat and his visit to Klemtu, there are no plans to return the vessel to Japan. He’s already bought a new one, and is happy with the boat’s current dock. “He’s very happy that it’s being used here,” McGrady said.

In his home town, every fisherman raises their own flag on their boat at the start of the season, so Sasaki brought his flag with him to raise one more time, leaving the flag with his new friends in Klemtu.

“It was an emotional time for him and for us to witness,” said a guide. The lodge plans to continue using the boat in its bear-viewing operations.

With files from CBC News

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC SPCA team helps discover new feline virus after outbreak at Quesnel shelter

Fechavirus is a kind of parvovirus, which makes cats and kittens very sick

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Commercial salmon fisheries delayed for Bella Coola area

DFO notice says Area C gill net fisheries in Area 8 have been delayed until June 15

Pacific Coastal won’t open until community is ready

The company has suspended operations until further notice

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Minneapolis cop who knelt on man’s neck charged with murder

Arrest comes after three days of protests, which escalated in violence as demonstrators torched a police precinct

Most Read