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A long-lost mural by the late painter Taro Okamoto was shown to the public for the first time ever Saturday in Tokyo, following a yearlong restoration.

The “Myth of Tomorrow,” measuring 5.5 meters by 30 meters on seven panes of concrete, was unveiled in the square in front of NTV headquarters in the Shiodome area after its initial vivid colors, which had faded during the more than three decades it was missing in Mexico, were restored.

The giant piece depicts the moment of an atomic explosion and a skeleton burning under a mushroom cloud while others flee. Some artists and critics call it a masterpiece equivalent to Okamoto’s famous “Tower of the Sun” sculpture for the 1970 World Exposition in Osaka.

“There is a strong message by Taro present in the piece that people can overcome tragedy and see the myth of tomorrow. . . . We want as many people as possible to see it and share this special experience,” said Akiomi Hara, who headed the mural’s restoration project.

Working in Toon, Ehime Prefecture, the restoration team cleaned the mural and repaired more than 100 cracks, putting together thousands of small shards. The work began last July and was completed June 3.

After seeing the mural, Masayo Hara, a 38-year-old company employee in Tokyo, said, “The painting is huge, and it looks alive.

“It’s like seeing someone for the first time after ages,” she added, saying she has seen many of Okamoto’s other works and is a big fan.

“It’s cool,” said Takuya Kokubu, 12, who came from Tochigi Prefecture to see the mural with his family.

The mural will be on public view until the end of August and will then be stored in a warehouse until it finds a permanent home by 2011, the centennial of Okamoto’s birth.

“Myth of Tomorrow” was painted from 1968 to 1969 as a piece to cover the walls of a hotel in Mexico City but was taken down because the hotel never opened due to business problems.

The mural disappeared and it didn’t resurface until September 2003 when the artist’s late adopted daughter, Toshiko Okamoto, found it abandoned in a warehouse.

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