Fishing gear in northeastern Japan to be designated cultural property

More than 3,000 pieces of fishing gear held by a museum in a city hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan's northeast are to be designated important folk cultural properties.

An advisory panel to the Cultural Affairs Agency recommended the designation to Nagaoka Keiko on Friday. She is in charge of the education ministry, which oversees the agency.

The Rikuzentakata City Museum in Iwate Prefecture houses 3,028 items including fishing nets, harpoons, hydroscopes for underwater viewing, and specialized tools used for harvesting things such as urchins and abalones.

The gear was used in the abundant fishery off the city's coastline.

The advisory panel concluded that they are a valuable legacy of Japanese fishing techniques and equipment.

The museum has been collecting local fishing gear since it was opened in 1959. A total of 2,045 items were registered as cultural properties in 2008. But 123 of them were lost in the 2011 tsunami.

About half of the items to be designated on this occasion were washed away or damaged in the disaster but have since been restored. It will be the first time that items damaged in the disaster are designated cultural property.

Museum curator Kumagai Masaru expressed joy over the decision. He noted that the museum had benefited from the efforts of people in the area to collect items and said what had been local treasures would become the country's treasures.