Japan village finds hope in sign lost in tsunami

By Paula Akana
Published On: Jul 25 2014 01:13:00 PM HST

People in tsunami-ravaged parts of Japan are finding hope in one tattered sign that floated thousands of miles to Hawaii.

HONOLULU -

All eyes on this special cargo carefully being loaded onto a Hawaiian Airlines flight headed for Sendai, Japan.   The cargo?  A sign.

The weathered wooden sign washed up on the beach near Kahuku about a year ago.

Click here to watch Paula Akana's report.

"When staff found this sign on the beach at Kahuku, we knew it was special, and so we took very good care of the sign knowing at some point in the future someone was going to ask for it," said Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman William Aila.

It turned out the sign was from Tanohata Village -- a small town in the Iwate Prefecture.  The town was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck in 2011.

Two-hundred buildings were destroyed and 39 people died.  Nearly every vessel in the tiny fishing village fleet was lost.

So much devastation.  So much gone.

Some asked why they would want this sign?  Because it was more than just a sign.

"It was also a symbol of hope for the survivors and also kind of help them realize there was hope to rebuild," said Kyle Koyanagi of the Marine Debris Operations.

"This kind action to bring back the spirit of the Japanese village back to japan.  They can recover," said Toyoei Shigeeda of the Japanese Consul General.  "Seeing what they have lost.  This is an encouraging element for them.  In not only in material way but also spiritual way."

Thursday night the sign was on its way home.  A sign of hope for a village as it continues to rebuild.

Hawaiian Airlines jumped right in offering to fly the special sign for free.

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