Japan

Teen Tourists Carve Their Names Onto Japan’s 1,200-Year-Old Temple Smart News


Toshodaiji Temple, an eighth-century Buddhist site in Nara, Japan
John S. Rand/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Canadian teen has admitted to carving his name on an eighth-century Buddhist temple in Nara, Japan, according to police. Earlier this month, while visiting Toshodai-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, he carved the letter “J” and the name “Julian” with his fingernails into a wooden pillar.

“We are worried that the same thing will happen again,” a monk at the temple told Kyodo. “While this may have been done without malice, it is still regrettable and sad.”

bbc newsNadine Yusuf Report Following the incident, Japanese officials questioned the teenager on suspicion of violating the cultural property protection law. Under the law, anyone who causes damage to “important cultural property” could face up to five years in prison and fines of thousands of dollars.

The tourist was in the temple’s golden hall, which Toshodai’s website calls the “greatest building” of its time and still stands today. Its beauty is “so much so that many famous ancient poems have described it”.

Catherine Heald, chief executive of luxury tour operator Remote Lands, said that “desecrating an important temple or shrine is a whole other level of disrespect” compared to smaller cultural missteps. Washington postNatalie B. Compton and Julia Mio Inuma. “It’s like writing nasty graffiti on a church.”

The boy, who is now with his parents, said he had no intention of harming Japanese culture, a police officer told CNN’s Karla Cripps and Eru Ishikawa.

Just a few weeks ago, similar vandalism occurred at the Colosseum in Rome. A tourist who carved “Ivan+Hayley 23/6/23″ into the walls of the historic amphitheater in June faces a fine of up to $16,300 and five years in prison. In a letter to Rome’s mayor, the tourist claimed he did not know how old the building was, BBC News’ Jasmine Anderson reported.”It is with great embarrassment that I admit that I did not learn of the monument’s antiquity until after something regrettable happened,” he wrote. Just this week, another teenage visitor taking pictures For almost the same crime, a letter “N” was carved in the Colosseum. Currently, two tourists are under investigation.

Removing graffiti from ancient buildings can be a complex challenge, according to a report by Catherine Woolfett and Jamie Fairchild in Historical England. “Improper cleaning by unprofessional contractors can cause serious damage to building surfaces and may result in visual distortions, including stains and marks,” they wrote, adding that “fostering local appreciation and understanding of historic settings” is One of the most effective methods. Prevent future incidents.

Following the lockdown, Japan has worked hard to remind tourists of etiquette through various public service announcements. Washington post The day after the incident, officials posted a sign at the entrance of Toshodai Temple: “Please do not damage the temple. You will be punished for violating the cultural property protection law,” the report said.

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