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Message in a bottle from Japanese high schoolers found after 37 yrs in Hawaii

Contact forms that were in the recently discovered glass bottle are seen in this photo at Choshi High School in the city of Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, on Sept. 15, 2021. (Mainichi/Takashi Kondo)

CHOSHI, Chiba -- A glass bottle released into the sea in 1984 by students of a prefectural high school in this eastern Japan city was found this June on the island of Hawaii, about 6,000 kilometers away.

    It is the first discovery of a glass bottle put into the sea by students of Choshi High School in Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, as part of a project to investigate ocean currents since the 50th bottle was found in 2002 on Kikaijima Island in southwest Japan's Kagoshima Prefecture.

    Vice principal Jun Hayashi said at a Sept. 15 briefing, "We thought the last one was found in Kikaijima. We never imagined another would be found 37 years on." The discovery is apparently scheduled for announcement at a "Japan Driftological Society" online meeting slated for October.

    Two second-year students who wrote letters of appreciation to the girl who found the glass bottle are seen at Choshi High School in the city of Choshi, Chiba Prefecture, on Sept. 15, 2021. (Mainichi/Takashi Kondo)

    A local 9-year-old girl found the bottle on a rocky beach. Inside were contact forms in Japanese, English and Portuguese explaining it was released off the coast of Choshi, and asking the discoverer to contact the owner. The finding was reported on by local newspapers and apparently attracted attention.

    The high school's natural science club released the bottles into the sea in 1984 and 1985 to investigate the Kuroshio Current. In all, 750 bottles were placed into the ocean near Tokyo's Miyakejima Island with cooperation from a Choshi Coast Guard Office patrol boat.

    Since 1985, the bottles have been found in 17 places including Okinawa, Akita and Kyoto prefectures. They have also been discovered overseas on the Midway Atoll in the United States, and contact has also come from the Philippines, China and the west coast of the U.S.

    Excluding the Kikaijima Island case, no contact about the bottles had come through since 2000, and the natural science club suspended activities in 2007. Environmental damage prevention measures also mean it's no longer possible to conduct experiments like it.

    The postcard-sized contact forms in the discovered bottle arrived back at Choshi High School on Sept. 3. On behalf of the pupils, who appeared deeply moved, two second-year students wrote letters of appreciation in English to the girl who found the bottle. Sixteen-year-olds Nozomi Hakkaku and Asuka Yamaguchi, who wrote to her, plan to send a miniature big catch flag as a souvenir with the letters. One of them said, "I want to cherish the connection the bottle brought us across borders and spacetime."

    Mayumi Kanda, 54, a club member in 1984, commented, "I was surprised, it revived nostalgic memories of my high school days. I thank those involved."

    (Japanese original by Takashi Kondo, Choshi Local Bureau)

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