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

 

Just Posted

“It’s something you’re called to do”: Cullen reflects on time as MP

For Nathan Cullen, it’s not goodbye, it’s farewell.

Local artist Sesyaz Saunders’ art on display at YVR

Saunders worked with renowned artist Robert Davidson on a large panel

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Girl, 10, poisoned by carbon monoxide at B.C. campsite could soon return home

Lucille Beaurain died and daughter Micaela Walton, 10, was rushed to B.C. Children’s Hospital on May 18

30 years later: B.C. woman uses sidewalk chalk to reclaim site of her sexual assault

Vancouver woman didn’t think her powerful story, written in chalk, would ignite such support

Most Read