RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan -- All eyes were on the backpack. The principal of Takata High School and a secretary both watched curiously as I pulled the bag onto the table.
They'd been told I had something to share. But they weren't sure what. It had to be important; we'd come all the way from Portland, Ore., and a Japanese TV crew happened to be there as well.
As I opened the backpack and pulled out a brightly colored ball, the principal started to smile. He had a nervous giggle as he grabbed the ball to take a closer look.
He turned it, looking for a name. And there he found it in Japanese writing: "Takata High School."
The ball had washed ashore in Long Beach, Washington. We returned it more than two years after the tsunami destroyed Takata High School, killing 22 students and one teacher.
Principal Akihiko Yokota shook the ball, which had a small amount of water inside. "It looks pretty good," said Yokota. "This ball has made a remarkable journey."
Background: Items set adrift in tsunami returned to Japan
Read more Washed Away: Japan Tsunami Debris