HACHINOHE, Aomori -- Elementary school children here released five small boats into the Pacific Ocean on the morning of Dec. 20, in the hope that they might eventually reach the western U.S. state of Oregon.
Driven by a desire to deepen interaction between Hachinohe and Oregon through monitoring how unmanned small-sized boats fare on Pacific Ocean currents, the children chanted "good luck" and waved as the special vessels set off on their journey.
The ships are small in stature, but are equipped with sails and global positioning systems.
Despite a gap of roughly 7,200 kilometers between Hachinohe and Oregon, the two regions became connected when part of a torii gate, belonging to a shrine in Hachinohe fishing port, washed ashore in Oregon in the wake of the tsunami caused by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
With regard to the children in Oregon -- who are also taking part in this international exchange project -- they have already released three boats toward Japan, with two of them said to be making good progress.