Girl elated by Hawaii bottle find

A Japanese teenager expressed gratitude Sunday after a U.S. sailor in Hawaii found a bottle she had tossed into the sea off Japan’s southern coast as a child, and said she was delighted to be reconnected with her old classmates as a result.

Nn20110920a6a
Time and tide: A photo in a bottle found during a beach cleanup at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai Island in Hawaii shows sixth-grade students from Kagoshima. AP PHOTO

Saki Arikawa, 17, said she had almost forgotten about the bottle and initially couldn’t believe it was found after five years.

In a telephone interview from her hometown in Kagoshima Prefecture, she said “it’s a miracle” the bottle was found. “It’s incredible,” she said.

The clear glass bottle was found Thursday by navy Petty Officer Jon Moore during a beach cleanup at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai Island.

The bottle contained four origami cranes — traditional symbols of peace — as well as a photo of Arikawa’s elementary school class and a note dated March 25, 2006, and signed by Arikawa saying she wanted it to be “a graduation memory.”

News of the bottle’s recovery reconnected more than a dozen of her old classmates, now studying at different high schools, and their homeroom teacher for a reunion Saturday. Arikawa says she now wants to further expand the circle of friendship.

“Thanks to the bottle, some of us could get together and had a great time,” she said. “Now I’d like to meet the person who kindly saved my bottle.”

The bottle was one of five she tossed into the ocean in 2006 as her sixth-grade class graduated from Kokubu Elementary School in Kagoshima.