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KYOTO (Kyodo) The first restoration work on 1,200-year-old Buddhist scrolls will attempt to bring the early ninth century calligraphic treasure closer to their original condition, the Kyoto board of education said.

The Sanjujo-sasshi, 30 volumes of esoteric Buddhist scripture hand-copied by priest Kukai (774-835) when he was staying in China from 804 to 806, is a government-designated national treasure.

The scrolls have been in the possession of Ninnaji Temple in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto.

Kukai, founder of the Shingon sect, has been touted as one of Japan’s three best calligraphers, along with Emperor Saga and calligrapher Tachibanano Hayanari. Restorers will be asked to patch worm holes with “washi” paper and line the damaged covers with silk fabric, the board of education said.

Credited with the invention of the kana syllabary, Kukai, also known as Kobo Daishi, is considered the father of Japanese culture.

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