David and Yumi Baxter of Middleton Island, Alaska, found a soccer ball that seems to have floated across the Pacific Ocean after being lost in the Japanese tsunami on March 11th of last year. Yumi, who is originally from Japan, could read the messages written on the ball, showing that it belonged to a 16 year old boy from Iwate prefecture. Misaki Murakami had been given the ball in third grade from his elementary school classmates. The messages and signatures show that they were written in March of 2005. Murakami, whose home was destroyed by the tsunami, says that he had a ball matching the description and that it was never found after the disasters.
The Baxters were relieved to hear of the owner’s safety, and as they already had plans to visit Japan in May, they now wish to return the ball to the owner in person. This would be the first occurrence of any tsunami debris being returned to Japan after reaching North America. Murakami says he is surprised and wants to give his thanks to the couple who found the it. While its return will bring back sad memories, as his family lost everything, the soccer ball means a lot to him, and he wishes to return it to its place in his room.
David Baxter says he found the ball while walking on the beach last month. His wife, who is originally from Hachioji, Tokyo, says that she could tell it had a special meaning to the owner. The couple has also found a volleyball with similar messages, but they can only identify the owner’s name to be Shiori, and that it was from her elementary school graduation. They wish they could also return the volleyball to its owner, but they don’t have enough information at this point to find her.