Anderson bringing back Japanese tsunami debris

By Zorina Barker, Forum Correspondent


A lifetime of walking the shores of the Pacific have made John Anderson aware of the changes in debris since the articles washed out to sea by the 2011 tsunami in Japan began drifting ashore here.


“I found maybe five of these in my whole life, but I collected all of this in the time since the tsunami,” Anderson said of the mountain of large floats and fragments of docks at his Forks home.


Now, he’s bringing them back with a film crew to help document his trip.


He has found, and been put in charge of, some items that actually can be traced to individuals across the ocean, so he is now in Japan to return them to the owners or their families.


Anderson and Ken Gaydeski found a volleyball covered with Japanese inscriptions that bear good tidings from teammates as well as reveal the place the ball called home overseas.


He also found a hardhat from a fishing vessel that hailed from a town which was essentially washed out to sea.


Returning some items will require sleuth work that the camera crew is hoping to catch for its documentary.


“That is going to be the hardest part, returning things to families of those people who lost their lives. Those people have been through a lot. I can’t imagine being in their place,” Anderson said.


After Japan’s tsunami, Anderson began paying attention to predictions as to when items might begin showing up on local beaches.


He began to procure abundance of flotsam, mostly floats.


KOMO television in Seattle ran a short segment on Anderson and then newspapers and magazines from around the country began seeking him out. Thus he became a noted beachcomber which is how his name came up in an Internet search by a pair of documentary film-makers from Toronto.


John Choy and Nicolini Lanni were already in the film industry and sought to make a documentary about the lost and found items of the 2011 disaster. They contacted Anderson, began corresponding, came to visit, then went back to Toronto to begin garnering funds to make a movie.


The North American film crew will now gather in Tokyo to head into the rural towns of Japan with Anderson and British Columbian artist Peter Clarkston.


“The cities are not so ritualistic, but we are going to the countryside north of Tokyo where hardly anybody speaks English and the code of conduct is very old school,” Anderson said.


This is not just a carefree little trip, he added.


“I’m representing the city when I’m over there, so I better watch my p’s and q’s.”


It is for one of these small, rural towns that Anderson has a special letter, translated into Japanese, to offer a sister city relationship.


He has letters from the mayor to prove his role as Forks’ official ambassador to Japan.


“I am incredibly excited for both John and the city,” said Mayor Bryon Monohon. “I think this is a wonderful opportunity for him and he’s worked real hard on his endeavors for many years. I think he’s a great ambassador.”


He is looking forward to proposing this arrangement to the city leaders of the town where the volleyball once resided.


“This is a good chance to bring the world a little closer; to share and learn some more about other people and cultures. It is a great opportunity and a win-win situation for everyone,” Monohon said.

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