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By Louise Boyle
PUBLISHED: 16:52 EST, 26 March 2013 | UPDATED: 16:52 EST, 26 March 2013
A Japanese shrine has been found on an Oregon beach, a tragic reminder of all that was lost in the 2011 tsunami.
The wooden piece, called a kasagi, was washed ashore in the morning tide last Friday near Oceanside. It is part of a larger sacred structure called a torii.
The red-painted piece of wood is believed to have been carried across the Pacific Ocean from Japan, which was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2011, killing almost 16,000 people and injuring 6,000.
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Washed up: The wooden piece was identified as a kasagi after it was found on an Oregon beach. It is a beam from a torii shrine and believed to be debris from the Japanese tsunami two years ago
Reclaimed: The piece of wood was taken by local authorities after it was discovered on the beach on Friday
The beam is the upper portion of a sacred structure called a torii, the curator of Portland's Japanese Garden told KGW.
He said the arch is common in northern Japan which suffered the most devastation in the tsunami.
The torii is a three part, wooden structure which is found at the entrance to a Shinto shrine.
The gate is traditionally made from wood or stone and symbolizes the entrance to a sacred space. The Shinto shrine is central to a village or family's life and is used to honor the ocean.
Anyone who finds tsunami debris washed up on U.S. beaches is urged to call their local authorities.
Sacred: Torii gate at the Itsukushima Shrine in Japan
In December, a 185-ton dock washed up on the Washington coast and was confirmed as coming from Japan.
Earlier this month an elaborate removal was carried out cutting up the dock and carrying the debris inland by helicopter.
In June 15 last year, another 20-foot boat washed ashore at Cape Disappointment State Park and was confirmed as Japanese.
Ocean drive: The piece of Japanese shrine was found last Friday close to Oceanside in Oregon almost two years after the Japanese tsunami
Long way from home: The piece of wooden shrine was carried by currents from the east coast of Japan to Oceanside, Oregon
Terror: Waves swallow a seaside village near the mouth of the Hei River in Miyako city Japan two years ago
A soccer ball was also discovered with 'Otsuchi Soccer Club' handwritten on it that month - Otsuchi is a Japanese coastal town.
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami claimed nearly 16,000 lives and injured up to 6,000.
Large areas were wiped out and countless buildings destroyed. It is estimated about five million tons of debris was swept into the Pacific Ocean.
Although 70 per cent sank near the shore the rest floated elsewhere with much still out at sea
However, year by year the amount is declining. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), debris from the tsunami is now so dispersed it can’t be seen by satellite.