Tohoku artifacts reach U.S. coast


Part of a torii gate and a wooden statue of Ebisu, the Japanese god of luck, were found on the U.S. West Coast this month, leaving residents wondering if they were swept to sea by the March 11, 2011, tsunami that hit the Tohoku region.

Local residents in Oceanside, Oregon, found what appears to be the top of a torii, a traditional gate usually found at shinto shrines, on Friday, according to Chris Havel of the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation.

The 5-meter-long curved wooden beam still bears traces of red paint. The Parks Department has notified the Consulate General of Japan in Portland and is storing the item.

Four days before the torii find, Nick Sparagno was walking on the beach in Ocean Shores, Washington, with his family when his wife, Merrilu, saw something in the surf. She pulled the item to the beach and discovered it was a carved wooden statue of Ebisu, he said.

“It gives a good feeling to be around,” said Sparagno of the nearly 1-meter-tall figure covered in algae and a few mussels. Sparagno said he is considering exhibiting the item at a local museum for the summer.

  • kana

    It would be a great humanitarian gesture if all items of cultural, religious, or artistic merit such as Ebisu were returned to Japan. No one should profit from such a tragedy and I hope there is a system in place where they can be turned over to perhaps the Japanese Consulate for return.