The Pacific Tsunami Museum in Hilo hosted a US-Japan Tsunami Forum on Nov. 21. The two nations participated in the joint forum with a goal of strengthening relationships and sharing tsunami lessons learned.
During a visit to Hilo in the summer of 2017, Hideo Tokuyama, former Vice Minister of the Japan Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, discovered the museum had in its possession an object from Japan that was found at Kamilo Point during a beach cleanup. Tokuyama immediately identified it as a highway delineator from the Tohoku Region of Japan.
The delineator drifted all the way to the south shore of Hawaii Island.
“Dr. Tokuyama was very surprised and extremely appreciative that the museum was caring for it,” said Pacific Tsunami Museum Executive Director Marlene Murray.
The delineator is now featured in the “Great Eastern Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011” exhibit at the Hilo museum.
Following the discovery, Tokuyama vowed a return visit. He returned for the forum with a delegation of 12 people, many of whom worked on the immediate response and recovery for the 2011 tsunami. The museum organized the forum and invited local emergency management officials, leaders from the Japanese community, tourism officials and Mayor Harry Kim.
The event included a program that featured tsunami presentations by both countries and concluded with a tour of tsunami-impacted sites, which was led by museum co-founder Walter Dudley.
“We were brought together by the shared experience of tsunami, and the highway delineator, which made the long journey to Hawaii,” Murray said. “The two nations recognize the importance of learning from the disaster experience and sharing information to try to prevent or mitigate future tragedy.”