Photo/IllutrationThe Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon No. 5), on display here at the Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall in the Yumenoshima district of Tokyo’s Koto Ward, was built more than 70 years ago. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

An exhibition hall dedicated to the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon No. 5), a wooden tuna fishing boat that was exposed to radioactive fallout from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test in 1954, closed from July 1 for a nine-month renovation.

The Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall in Tokyo’s Koto Ward is scheduled to reopen on April 2.

The renovation will include work to address the aging and partial replacement of the exhibits.

The ongoing renovation will involve total replacement of the roof, re-flooring, replacement of heat insulation material and a facelift of restrooms, officials said.

The hall’s permanent exhibits and brochures will also be renewed to coincide with the renovation.

A new video will be made to show oral accounts by Matashichi Oishi, an 84-year-old former crew member of the ship. Imagery created from 3-D measurements of the hull’s interior, which is off-limits to the public, will also be aired.

There will also be more explanatory notes in other languages, including English, for the convenience of non-Japanese visitors.

On a longer-term basis, hall officials also need to repair the hull of the aging boat, which was built more than seven decades ago.

The exhibition hall, which opened in 1976, receives 100,000 visitors a year, including students from about 400 schools on excursions and other tours.

The hall has been plagued by problems of physical degradation, including rain leaking through the roof for several years.

Rainwater hitting the hull once caused rotting wood. Officials have coped with the problem by installing washbowls on the ship’s deck.

There is also a pressing need to fight age-related deterioration of the hull.

The ship was half-dismantled for 15 months of repair work in 1985-1986. More than 30 years have passed since, and the ship is again sustaining deformation, including sagging of the hull due to the effects of gravity.

The Daigo Fukuryu Maru peace association, which manages and operates the exhibition hall, has therefore set up a hull preservation study committee, where experts in the protection of cultural properties have been discussing the matter since December 2016.

Discussions on the hull preservation is scheduled to begin in earnest as soon as the repair of the building is over.

“Given that a wooden ship is said to have a service life of only 20 years, the Daigo Fukuryu Maru remains a valuable asset, not only as a symbolic nuclear-bomb memento but also as a sample of a wooden ship used in deep-sea fishing,” said Kazuya Yasuda, the 65-year-old secretary-general of the peace association. “We hope to preserve the ship in the years to come for as long as we can.”