A Japanese city devastated by the 2011 tsunami has received anonymous gifts of gold worth more than US$250,000 in a phenomenon dubbed a "goodwill gold rush", as the second anniversary of the disaster approaches.
The president of the company that operates the port in the northeastern city of Ishinomaki last week received a parcel containing two slabs of gold, each weighing 1kg.
"Since it was labelled as 'miscellaneous goods', I casually opened the box," thinking it must be books or the like as it was heavy, said Kunio Suno, president of the Ishinomaki Fish Market.
"I was stunned because what's in there was 24-carat gold, in two plates. One was wrapped in brown paper and the other in a page taken from a magazine. Both were sitting in bubble sheets."
The parcel had been sent anonymously from Nagano city, northwest of Tokyo, with no message.
"Just looking at 24-carat gold can encourage people, as it has a presence. It's great to know we haven't been forgotten," Suno said, adding that he had not yet decided how to use the gift.
Japanese media said a non-profit group in Ishinomaki that has been supporting its revival had also received 2kg of gold bullion, and at least one more group had received more than 1kg.
The gifts have mystified Japanese people, prompting the mass-circulation Asahi newspaper to call the phenomenon a "goodwill gold rush" in Ishinomaki.
The city, 350 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, was devastated by a magniture-9.0 earthquake and the massive tsunami the quake generated on March 11, 2011. The disaster killed nearly 19,000 people, including more than 3,000 in Ishinomaki, and sparked the world's worst nuclear accident in a generation.