• Kyodo

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Murals from the ancient Kitora tomb, which dates from the late seventh to early eighth centuries, went on display in a new museum that opened Saturday.

About 400 archaeology fans — selected by lot — were the first visitors allowed into the Kitora Kofun Hekiga Taikenkan Shishin no Yakata museum. The facility was opened near the tomb in the nearby village of Asuka, Nara Prefecture, to preserve and exhibit its paintings. The ancient burial mound was discovered in 1983.

Due to concerns about mold, the murals were removed from the walls to undergo repair.

The tomb paintings, which include the Suzaku (red phoenix), Byakko (white tiger), both mythological creatures from Chinese mythology, as well as other symbols from the Chinese zodiac, will be on display until late October.

The two remaining murals representing two other gods from Chinese mythology — Seiryu (blue dragon) and Gembu (black turtle and snake) — will go on display from January.

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