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Oregon Officials Ask If Washed-Ashore Wood Could Come From Japanese Arch

OPB | March 25, 2013 1:26 p.m. | Updated: March 26, 2013 1:25 p.m. | Portland

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Oregon authorities have contacted the Japanese Consulate in Portland to find out whether a piece of presumed tsunami debris that washed up at Oceanside on Friday is culturally significant.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department was called about part of a boat -- but instead found floating material that could be debris from the March 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department was called about part of a boat -- but instead found floating material that could be debris from the March 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.

Judson Randall

Chris Havel, of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, said staff were called about part of a boat that washed up on the Oregon coast west of Tillamook.

“When they went to Oceanside and took a look, it was immediately apparent that it was not part of a boat,” he said. “It was an 8-foot-long gracefully curved piece of wood that had been painted bright red. It had marine growth on it. But it was clearly part of a structure rather than part of a boat of some sort.”

Judson Randall

Havel said it could be part of a freestanding arch common in Japan called a Torii. The arch delineates the boundary of a sacred site — like a Buddhist Temple or Shinto Shrine. 

“We have asked the consulate if, in the construction of one of these gates, if there tends to be a mark placed on it somewhere that we ought to be looking for, to give them photographs of some specific part of it, so they can try and nail down the location,” he said.

Havel said they’re waiting to hear from the Japanese Consulate.

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Additional Coverage

Amid Tsunami Debris, Something Sacred Washes Ashore In Oregon

Q&A: Tsunami Debris Not Your Everyday Piece Of Driftwood

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