Debris found on coast may be piece of Japanese temple gate

Debris found on coast may be piece of Japanese temple gate
A piece of debris found Sunday on the Oregon coast may be part of a torii, which is a Japanese gate marking a sacred place. (Photo by Judson Randall)

OCEANSIDE, Ore. – A possible piece of tsunami debris that washed ashore in Tillamook County Sunday may be the most culturally-significant piece of debris we’ve seen on our shores.

It appeared to be the top piece of a temple gate called a “torii”, used to mark the entrance to a sacred place. The Japanese call the top piece a "kasagi".

The 20-foot-long piece was found covered in sea life that birds were eating, according to Judson Randall, who took photos of the piece and shared them with KATU.

Rangers with the Oregon Parks and Recreation department hauled the piece away after inspecting it Sunday.

On Friday, the The Washington Marine Debris Task Force said a 20-foot boat washed ashore on the Long Beach Peninsula.

The boat has some Japanese markings, and officials are trying to determine whether it was washed away in the March 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.

The boat was covered with barnacles and other marine life.