Fire guts historic Okayama temple

Kyodo

A fire Monday evening destroyed the main hall of a historic Buddhist temple in Okayama Prefecture designated by the government as an important cultural treasure, police and fire officials said.

No one was hurt in the fire at Kinzanji, also known as Kanayamaji, located about 8 km northeast of JR Okayama Station, the officials said. Firefighters said they were alerted by a call from a nearby resident just past 7:30 p.m.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The officials quoted the temple’s 76-year-old resident priest, who was away at the time of the fire, as saying, “candles were lit all the time at the main hall.”

The temple of the Tendai school of Buddhism was originally founded in 749, according to its website. Its main building and other structures are said to have been rebuilt in 1575 after a fire. It was designated by the state as an important cultural property in 1950.