The Return of Nippon Maru: A Japanese Sailing Vessel

Standing on the shore, gazing out to sea, if you looked hard, put an open palm across your brow, and really squinted, you could see it. Like a mirage in the desert, it seemed to appear before fading into hazy white light. Blink. There is was again. Beyond reason, if seeing is believing, then it had to be a ghost ship of some sort, gliding back and forth on the horizon, but never approaching land. Until it did. A military intelligence service veteran, standing on the jetty wall of Nawiliwili Harbor, proclaimed “She’s actually coming in.” The Nippon Maru II, a 1930 four-masted Japanese training vessel, was about to dock after 21 long days at sea. The last time it had visited the island of Kauai was in 1983. As if awestruck, tourists and Native Hawaiians stood as still as marble statues. They gaped in wonder when the buoyant museum slid into Pier 2. The familiar white rectangular flag, with a bright red disc in the center, identified its country with pride. Word is after its return to Japan in 1984, it became a permanent landmark docked in Yokohama Harbor. During its service, it had logged over 45 trips around the world and brought up 11,500 cadets. Historical. Just as gallantly as the Nippon Maru II arrived, two days later, the prestigious training ship with its four giant masts, solid wooden decks, and thick knotted ropes guided its way back out to sea. The energetic sailors, dressed in crisp white uniforms, scaled the nautical rope ladders with ease. From every position they heartily waved their arms at the crowd. Shouts and cheers of farewell billowed on the trade winds. Then with imperial majesty, the Nippon Maru II slid out of sight without ever unfurling its mighty sails. 

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