A statue of Ebisu, the Japanese god of fishermen and luck, was pulled from the sea Tuesday and will be given a new home near the Miyagi Prefecture port from which it was swept away during the devastating March 2011 tsunami.

The statue depicts Ebisu pulling in a sea bream — an auspicious symbol in Japan — and used to overlook Kesennuma Bay from Kesennuma port. The 1.5-meter-high statue was erected in 1988 and became popular with tourists and locals hoping its powers would lead to a good catch and ensure the safe passage of vessels.

It was found in November when a diver conducting an underwater survey for a Kesennuma municipal reconstruction project discovered it in 2 meters of water around 10 meters away from its previous position.

Although volunteer divers had gone in search of the statue immediately after the tsunami, they failed to locate it and gave up.

The statue was removed from the water by crane. It had suffered little in the way of damage apart from a broken fishing rod.

"It was a symbol of the citizens (of the area)," said Masashi Kamiyama, 70, chief priest of Isuzu shrine, which owns the statue. "(Its discovery) gives hope to everyone."

The recovered statue will be installed at the shrine.

A replacement for the original funded by donations from local residents is currently being built. It will be placed near the first statue's original location.