NARA (Kyodo) The three-story east pagoda of Yakushiji, a Buddhist temple in Nara listed as a World Heritage site, was opened to the public Tuesday for the first time since it was built some 1,300 years ago.

The national treasure pagoda, often described as “frozen music” for its rhythmic appearance and beauty, will be open to general visitors through March 21 ahead of a major renovation that will start later this year.

During the renovation, which is expected to take eight years, visitors will not even be able to view the exterior.

A walkway and lighting was installed inside the pagoda’s first floor for the public viewing.

Sightseers are able to view paintings of the imaginary flower called “hosoge” on the ceiling and permitted to touch the pagoda’s main pillar.

“I was amazed that such an old thing still exists today when I saw hosoge on the ceiling, which were drawn in painstaking detail,” said Kazunari Totsukawa, a 48-year-old office worker from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture.

During the viewing period, the west pagoda, which was rebuilt in 1981, is also open three times a day.

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