Woman reunited with memento of restaurant lost in tsunami

June 14, 2012

By YOSHIYUKI ITO/ Staff Writer

Sakiko Miura was overjoyed to be reunited with a buoy that used to adorn her restaurant washed away by last year's tsunami.

Her restaurant in Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, was named after the ship that her late husband worked on.

The yellow buoy was found on Middleton Island in the Gulf of Alaska.

Miura, 63, said she plans to reopen her restaurant, Keimeimaru, and use the returned buoy as a symbol of its rebirth.

The sign for her restaurant was made up of three buoys, each carrying a kanji character for "kei," "mei" and "maru." The character that reads "kei" is written on the buoy found in Alaska.

“Kei-chan has returned," a happy and tearful Miura said.

Keigo, her husband and fisherman, died 31 years ago. His ship, the Keimei-maru, was named borrowing one kanji character each from the names of Keigo and Akihiro, his eldest son, 43.

The buoy was found by David Baxter, who also discovered a soccer ball and volleyball that floated across the Pacific Ocean from northeastern Japan due to the tsunami spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011.

A friend of Miura, who was watching a television program reporting that the Japanese owner of the volleyball was identified, noticed a familiar object, the buoy from Miura's restaurant with the character "kei."

The buoy was delivered along with a letter from Baxter, 51, that says after Miura reopens her restaurant, he hopes to visit Japan and eat there.

By YOSHIYUKI ITO/ Staff Writer
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Sakiko Miura holds her buoy lost in the March 2011 tsunami and returned from Alaska in Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, on June 13. (Kengo Hiyoshi)

Sakiko Miura holds her buoy lost in the March 2011 tsunami and returned from Alaska in Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, on June 13. (Kengo Hiyoshi)

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  • Sakiko Miura holds her buoy lost in the March 2011 tsunami and returned from Alaska in Minami-Sanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, on June 13. (Kengo Hiyoshi)
  • Miura’s restaurant, swept away by the March 2011 tsunami, used buoys for a sign. (Provided by Sakiko Miura)

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