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Yomeimon yields paintings hidden for two centuries

Kyodo

Renovation work at the famed Yomeimon Gate of Toshogu Shrine in the tourist city of Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, has revealed wall paintings hidden for more than 200 years.

It is believed the depictions of cranes were painted in 1752 on the west side of Yomeimon, designated as a national treasure, but had been covered by panels since 1796 due to deterioration.

Other wall paintings on the east side of the gate were confirmed during a previous round of renovation carried out around 40 years ago. At the time, an X-ray inspection confirmed the existence of the paintings on the west wall as well.

“We can see the old-time coloring techniques through the wall paintings,” said Noritake Sato, 64, who is involved in the gate’s renovation.

The gold leaf and green color had faded or fallen from the painting, but the red and white coloration remained intact.

Toshogu Shrine was founded in the 17th century to house the remains of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.