• Kyodo

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A fire drill was held Monday at the World Heritage-listed Yakushiji temple in the city of Nara.

The practice was held following a blaze that destroyed several buildings at Shuri Castle in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, last year.

Ahead of the country’s Cultural Property Fire Prevention Day, on Sunday, about 100 Buddhist priests and firefighters rehearsed procedures to retrieve cultural assets and move injured people to safety in a scenario in which a fire had broken out in the temple’s Kondo main hall. A dummy Buddhist statue was used in the drill.

The drill came ahead of the expected completion, this spring, of a nine-year repair project of the East Pagoda, or Toto, which is the temple’s only surviving original structure from the eighth century.

Yakushiji was initially built in Kashihara in Nara Prefecture where the capital at that time, Fujiwarakyo, was located at the end of the seventh century. But when the capital was moved to the city of Nara, previously known as Heijokyo, in 710, the temple was also moved to its current location.

The temple’s structures other than the East Pagoda later burned down. The current main hall was erected in 1976.

The main halls at Shuri Castle, a World Heritage site, burned to the ground in late October in a fire thought to have been caused by a faulty electrical system.

Japan introduced fire prevention day in 1955 after a blaze broke out on Jan. 26, 1949, that engulfed the main hall of Horyuji, another World Heritage Buddhist temple in Nara Prefecture.

Fire drills are held at cultural heritage sites across the country on or around Jan. 26 every year.

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