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Temple squirter strikes again at UNESCO sites in Kyoto, Nara

Kyodo

Two UNESCO World Heritage sites in west Japan, Shimogamo Shrine and Kinpusenji Temple, are the latest victims of vandals who are bent on defacing such sites with a liquid, police said.

The police said they found more than a dozen stains on the floor and elsewhere at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto’s Sakyo Ward on Saturday. Traces of the liquid were found at eleven locations, including on important cultural properties such as the Maidono, a dance stage used for festivals, they said.

A security guard first found the stains at around 10:30 a.m. during a routine patrol, the temple said.

No abnormalities were found when it closed on Friday night. Officials believe the stains were made some time after the facility opened at 6 a.m.

Spray stains were also found at an offertory box at the main shrine and other two buildings, police and shrine officials said.

Shimogamo Shrine has two buildings that have been designated as national treasures and 53 buildings that have been named important cultural properties.

Meanwhile, in the town of Yoshino, Nara Prefecture, Kinpusenji Temple was found to have been vandalized with a type of liquid as well, police said.

The police said stains were found at around 2:50 p.m. in two spots in the main hall of Kinpusenji, the head temple of a branch of the ancient syncretic religious sect Shugendo. The temple is designated as a national treasure as well. The main hall was rebuilt in the late 16th century.

“This is a precious building that has been inherited from older generations. It is sad to see it damaged,” an official at the temple said.

Similar incidents of vandalism between 2015 and 2016 saw temples and shrines across the country, including Kinpusenji, defaced with an oily liquid.

Last November, Todaiji, one of the most prestigious Buddhist temples in the nation, was also vandalized with a liquid.

Todaiji, in Nara, is famous for its 15-meter statue of the Great Buddha and is listed among the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.