• Kyodo


The famed wolf paintings on the ceiling of the gutted Yamatsumi Shrine in the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, have been reproduced by Tokyo university art students and their teacher.

The village remains off-limits due to radiation contamination following the March 2011 reactor core meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant. But locals hope the restored paintings from the shrine, which burned down in a 2013 fire, will give people a chance to visit the village once the evacuation order is lifted in March.

Yamatsumi Shrine is known for its faith in wolves. About 240 paintings of wolves in different positions were completed at its hall of worship in about 1904. But the hall and the paintings were burned up in the fire that broke out in April 2013.

Kei Arai, associate professor at Tokyo University of the Arts, and his students undertook the restoration of the shrine’s art, referring to pictures of the paintings taken before the fire. The hall itself was reconstructed in June 2015.

Now the shrine is refitted with wolf art on the ceilings. One wolf is seen sleeping in the bush, while another gazes at a blue waterfall.

“I hope the paintings of these happy wolves will lift the feelings of viewers,” said Keisuke Kato, a staffer at the shine. “I hope the art will give more people a chance to visit the village, and help with its reconstruction.”

Iitate, one of the municipalities most severely affected by the 2011 radiation disaster, will have evacuation orders lifted in most areas at the end of next March, including where the shrine is located.

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