A Message In A Bottle From Japan Washes Up In Hawaii 37 Years Later


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockSep 17 2021, 16:37 UTC
Message in a bottle

"Just a castaway, an island lost at sea, oh..." Image credit: Andrey Armyagov/

A message in a bottle has been discovered in Hawaii 37 years after it was cast into the sea by a Japanese high school’s science club. 

The bottle’s 6,400 kilometer (4,000 mile) journey across the Pacific came to an end back in July when it was discovered along the beach near Keaau by 9-year-old Abbie Graham, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported. 


She unscrewed the rusty cap and discovered an aged note written in English, Japanese, and Spanish, saying “THE OCEAN CURRENT INVESTIGATION.” Further reading revealed that the bottle was part of a project by the Chiba Prefectural Choshi High School Natural Science Club who released the bottle in the water in 1984 to investigate ocean currents. If you're curious what a seafaring bottle smells like after 37 years of bopping around in the Pacific, Abbie says it smelt of a "wet cat."

The note said that the finder should report the discovery back to the high school in Japan, along with information about the date and coordinates of its discovery. Abbie and her family attempted to find the school on the internet and social media, but all of the information was in Japanese, which they didn't speak. Eventually, they simply laminated the note and sent it back by post using the address on the note.

The note has now returned home and is safely in the hands of the Choshi High School, Japanese newspaper Mainichi reports. As a sign of appreciation, students have written a letter in English to the girl who found the bottle, thanking her for taking the time to make contact.

All in all, the science club had released 750 bottles into the ocean in July 1984 and 1985 to analyze the movement of the Kuroshio Current, a warm ocean current that slips past Japan along the western North Pacific Ocean.


Since 1985, the bottles have been found at 17 different locations across Japan, as well as the Philippines, China, and even the west coast of the US. Prior to this new discovery, the last bottle was discovered in 2002 on Kikaijima Island in southwest Japan's Kagoshima Prefecture. It was assumed all bottles had either been discovered or lost to the sea until the school received a very surprising letter from Hawaii.

"We thought the last one was found in Kikaijima. We never imagined another would be found 37 years on,” remarked Jun Hayashi, Vice-principal of the school, according to Mainichi.

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

While this bottle's journey is undoubtedly impressive, much older bottles have been found. In 2018, we reported the incredible story of a 132-year-old message in a bottle washing up in Australia. Analysis of the bottle's note by the Western Australian Museum revealed that the bottle was thrown into the Indian Ocean by a German sailor on June 12, 1886. The message, written in German, explained that the sailor was onboard a ship called Paula as part of an oceanographic exploration to better understand ocean currents and find faster shipping routes.


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