A 17-year-old Canadian tourist was caught vandalizing wooden pillars at a Buddhist temple in the Japanese city of Nara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The incident has drawn the ire of the Japanese public as well as lovers of cultural and historical heritage.The event took place last Thursday, July 7ththe th The Toshodaiji Kondo temple complex was founded in 759 by the Chinese monk Jian Zhen who introduced Buddhism to Japan.
Police said the teenager used his fingernails to carve his name on a wooden pillar that supports the roof of the temple’s so-called “Golden Temple”. This 13th-century building has been designated a National Treasure by the Japanese government. “On a nearby post, the boy carved ‘Julian’ with his fingernails on a wooden post about 170 centimeters from the ground,” a police officer told CNN.
A Japanese tourist witnessed the act and asked the Canadian teenager to stop. He then notified temple staff, who called the authorities. Police took the young man to the police station the next day, where he admitted his responsibility and said he did not want to harm Japanese culture. His parents accompanied him because they were at the temple when the vandalism happened.
The boy acknowledged his actions and said he did not do so to harm Japanese culture.
Staff of Kondo Toshodaiji Temple
Police said they will continue to investigate the case and if it is proven that the young man violated the Cultural Property Protection Act, he will be referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The tourist has not been arrested so far.
“While it was done without malice, it is still regrettable and sad,” a monk at the temple told the Daily News. He added that damage to the pillar was difficult to repair and was considering covering it with a plaque possibility. Under Japanese law, anyone who damages “important cultural property” faces up to five years in prison or a fine of 300,000 yen (about 1,800 euros).
This isn’t the only recent act of vandalism affecting a UNESCO historic site. In late June, a tourist was photographed carving his name on the wall of Rome’s ancient Colosseum. He was identified as a fitness instructor living in the UK, The Independent reported. Italian police said the identification process was carried out by comparing images.
Using a key, the man wrote the couple’s names and the year they were there: “Ivan + Hayley 23” on one wall of the monument. The incident was recorded after another passing tourist recorded what happened. The video was then posted to YouTube and eventually caught the attention of Italian police, who began a search for the man, The Guardian reported. The video, which went viral on YouTube, was captioned: “Asshole tourist carves name in Colosseum.” The tourist later apologized to the Roman prosecutor’s office, the mayor and city council.