A parakeet named Piko went missing recently from his home in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. But Piko was reunited with his owner after he rattled off his full address after being captured and turned over to the police.
The owner, a woman, had trained the bird to recite his address and other “personal” information just in case Piko ever flew off and got lost.
It never fails to cheer the heart to hear such a story of reunion, be it with a lost pet or just a misplaced item. The sense of happy relief felt is proportional to the depth of the owner’s attachment to the object and the time and the distance that had separated them. The owner’s joy would be especially intense if he or she had already abandoned hope of recovering the lost item.
Items of Japanese origin are being washed ashore on the West Coast of North America. They are battered fragments of people’s daily lives, stolen by last year’s deadly tsunami and carried across the Pacific by the westerlies.
The more prominent among them were a fishing vessel, a soccer ball and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in a storage container. By this autumn, lumber from destroyed homes will start showing up on North American shores. And by February, the arriving tsunami debris is expected to reach 40,000 tons.
Although Piko was able to recite his address, it took the goodwill and persistence of the American and Canadian finders to locate the owners of the lost inanimate objects.
The owner of the Harley lost his home and three family members in the tsunami. The rusted bike must represent all the fond memories he can no longer hug tight.
Piko’s owner reportedly received the bird from her son two years ago as a Mother’s Day present. Even among some of the tsunami debris, I imagine there are untold stories of what they must have meant to their owners.
For instance, the owner of the soccer ball was tracked down because of messages written on the ball. There may be some special message in the very fact that the ball drifted in the ocean for a full year and was picked up by someone.
About 3,000 people are still missing. Many people try to cling to things that were treasured by their lost loved ones, whom they will never see again.
Let us await further news from across the Pacific in order to take back memories that flowed out from the shores of hometowns in that March 11 afternoon of 2011.
--The Asahi Shimbun, May 11
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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