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thomas

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A painting of a ghost that Kudoji Temple (久渡寺) in Hirosaki has owned for over 200 years has been confirmed to be an authentic work of Maruyama Ōkyo (圓山應舉, 1733-1795), a famous naturalist painter renowned (and criticised) for his realistic depictions.

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Kenpon Bokuga Tansai Hangonko no Zu” (ink drawing on silk canvas with light coloring, ghost appearing from incense, 1781)

This is the first “Yurei Zu” (ghost painting) in Japan confirmed to be an original by Okyo, a popular and influential painter from the Edo Period (1603-1867), according to a member of the city’s cultural property committee that studied it and attested to the work's authenticity. It was previously believed that the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive of the University of California Berkeley possessed the only ghost painting done by Okyo. The board of education designated it as a tangible cultural property of the city on May 20, after it received the committee’s report. The ghost painting is called “Kenpon Bokuga Tansai Hangonko no Zu” (ink drawing on silk canvas with light coloring, ghost appearing from incense), and dates to around 1781. According to the committee member, the illustration included in the box for the ghost painting, and the writing on the box lid, read “Okyo’s work” and “Morioka Shuzen (1735-1785), Hirosaki Domain’s chief retainer, donated it to Kudoji temple in 1784.” The committee confirmed the background information by studying gravestones and family registers of deaths that remained in the city. The ghost paintings owned by Kudoji temple and the Berkeley art museum are similar in composition and were created around the same time, officials said. By comparison, officials said it is “not inferior at all” to the other painting when it comes to the depictions of hair, drawn with fine lines, and the costumes. It is believed that Morioka Shuzen, who lost his wife and his mistress in succession, asked Okyo to commemorate them in art. Kudoji temple opens the ghost painting to the public on May 18 in the old calendar every year. The board of education wants to increase the opportunities to show it to the public now that it has been designated a tangible cultural property, an official said.

 

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Giant Gion Festival float destroyed in 1864 fire being rebuilt in Kyoto for 2022 parade debut​


The rebuilt Takayama float is about 7.6 meters tall, 6.4 meters long and 4.3 meters wide, and weighs more than 10 metric tons. The float's main platform features figures of three deities in hawking poses. Some of the essential components including the four wheels came from other floats, and were installed after being repaired. Gion Festival's 34 floats, including Takayama, are classified into five types. Takayama is one of the largest floats of its type, which are pulled with ropes and feature a pine tree on the main platform. Takayama was heavily damaged by strong wind and rain in 1826, and could not be included in the Gion Festival parade from the following year. Most of the float was then destroyed in a massive fire in 1864 caused by the Kinmon incident (禁門の変, Kinmon no Hen, "Forbidden Gate Incident" or "Imperial Palace Gate Incident"), also known as the Hamaguri Gate Rebellion (蛤御門の変, Hamaguri Gomon no Hen, "Hamaguri Imperial Gate Incident"), a rebellion against the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan that took place on 20 August 1864. The deity figures escaped the blaze, and have been enshrined at a meeting place during the festival ever since.


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Photo credit: Mainichi/Kazuki Yamazaki
 
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Great thread

Didnt read all the posts here, is there some brief explanation or link about Japan history and relationship with other countries, preferencially Asia like China, Korea etc?

Or another thread already addressing it, anything

Thanks in advance
 

mdchachi

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Great thread

Didnt read all the posts here, is there some brief explanation or link about Japan history and relationship with other countries, preferencially Asia like China, Korea etc?

Or another thread already addressing it, anything

Thanks in advance
Try using the search field to search for site content with key words. There are tens of thousands of posts in here.
 

thomas

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Great thread

Didnt read all the posts here, is there some brief explanation or link about Japan history and relationship with other countries, preferencially Asia like China, Korea etc?

Or another thread already addressing it, anything

Or just post a new thread, we’ll be glad to answer your questions. :)
 

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An interesting piece on war technology: rare photos of rocket tests related to the Shusui fighter project were found in a Yokosuka home after 75 years.

shusui-rocket-fighter.jpg


The Shusui was a rocket-powered interceptor aircraft developed to help reverse Japan's waning fortunes late in World War II. The Shusui was based on the Messerschmidt Me163, which saw active duty in the last days of the war over the skies of Germany.

However, rare images of the facility that worked to develop the plane closely modeled on the German Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet aircraft recently emerged. Among other things, they depict the engine testing site run by the Imperial Japanese Army at what is now Matsusho High School here. Nine photos show a building at the test ground, the fighter’s rocket engine and key personnel involved in the project. One expert hailed the previously undisclosed materials as a “historic find.” Work on the Shusui started in August 1944 based on designs from the German military. It was viewed as a means of slowing down strategic bombing runs by U.S. B-29 Superfortress aircraft. The Navy and Army were responsible for the development of the body and the rocket engine, respectively. The Shusui was supposed to reach an altitude of 10,000 meters in three and a half minutes at a maximum speed of 900 kph, and was deemed to be the final hand to be played by the Japanese military to defend the archipelago. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. in Nagoya was responsible for designing the prototype. Increasingly intensified air raids forced the company to relocate its rocket engine development team to the experimental facility in Matsumoto in March 1945. The first trial flight took place in July 1945 but failed. In the end, the Shusui project never got off the ground. The recently discovered photos were among items kept by Keisuke Hirata, an engineer with officer rank who was involved in the development. The images remained with his family in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, after his death.

Source:
More:


 

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And another piece of war, or rather post-war, history: Hiroaki Takazawa, associate professor at Nihon University College of Industrial Technology, has found official U.S. documents describing how the American military scattered the cremated remains of wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and six other executed Class-A war criminals in the Pacific Ocean.

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It is the first time that details over the final disposition of the Class A criminals' final disposition have been found in official documents. While speculation and hearsay had circulated that their remains were scattered in the Pacific Ocean or Tokyo Bay, there had never been any official documents to back the claims. Tojo was among 28 Class A war criminals comprising Japanese political and military leaders who were indicted for crimes against peace after World War II. Seven, including the former premier, were hanged. [ ... ]

"If the remains were returned to nature, that is better than being abandoned somewhere else," said Hidetoshi Tojo, 48, great-grandchild of the executed former prime minister. "I had no idea (what happened to the remains) as there was somehow no talk about it," he said. "It is disappointing that we cannot pinpoint the location in the Pacific. It was made difficult to know the exact location by scattering them in the sea, and it is my understanding that the U.S. military was making a thorough effort to ensure that they not be deified." Yoshinobu Higurashi, professor at Teikyo University, said the U.S. military scattered the remains in the ocean to prevent the deification of war criminals, just as the remains of executed criminals of Nazi Germany convicted at the Nuremberg trials were dispersed in a river.



This is the website of Tojo Hidetoshi, Tojo Hideki's great-grandson:

 

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A historic sword made by the Kyoto master swordsmith Takai Echizen Kami Minamoto Nobuyoshi was returned to Aoi-Asojinja shrine in Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto Prefecture, after extensive restoration.

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Photo credit: Yoshiki Yashiro

A crowdfunding campaign by the shrine led to donations far exceeding its initial goals, allowing for restoration of more than one damaged sword. A ceremony was held June 16 to mark the return of the 60-centimeter sword created by master Kyoto swordsmith Takai Echizen Kami Minamoto Nobuyoshi. The words “Aoi Daimyojin,” a past name of the shrine, are etched into the blade. The sword was presented to Aoi-Asojinja over 350 years ago by retainers of the feudal lord of the Sagara clan on his behalf. When the shrine began its crowdfunding campaign last August, it set an initial goal of raising 5 million yen ($45,000). But that figure was reached just 90 minutes or so after the campaign began. Over the course of a month, 35 million yen was donated to the shrine. Swordsmith Shota Kimura and his family members began restoration work on the sword last October. “I had never seen anything like it in all my time as a swordsmith,” Kimura recalled thinking when he first set eyes on the damaged blade. “It was so badly rusted.”

 

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Extensive ruins have been excavated at the site of the former Heijokyu imperial palace in Nara.

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Photo credit: Takuya Tanabe

It believes the structure was the centre piece of a residence for emperors and crown princes during the late eighth century. One expert said the building was likely a residence for female Emperor Koken (718-770). Archaeologists began examining a roughly 924-square-meter plot in the northern Toin district in March, according to the institute. Toin is located in the eastern part of the Heijokyu palace, the nerve centre of politics during the Nara Period (710-784). They unearthed ruins of a rectangular-shaped structure, which spans 27 meters in an east-west direction and 12 meters in a north-south direction. Also found were 50 pits dug in the ground to place pillars into them. The holes are lined up about 3 meters apart. The building, supported by pillars placed in a grid-like formation, likely served as a living space, according to the institute. The researchers concluded that the structure stood there between 749 and 770 during the Nara Period, based on the characteristics of a pattern on roof tiles found in the pits.

Source: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14385163

 

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A letter written by Toyotomi Hideyoshi was discovered at Kiyomizudera Temple in Kyoto.

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A letter sealed with red wax penned by feudal warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) expressing gratitude for his mother's recovery from illness was found at Kiyomizudera temple here, a World Heritage site in the city's Higashiyama Ward. Although the Historiographical Institute of the University of Tokyo made a copy of the document in or after 1886, the original letter went missing at some point. It was rediscovered while the officials were sorting through 194 old documents at the temple, officials said July 7. They said the "shuinjo" letter was written on a sheet of traditional Japanese Otaka-danshi paper measuring 62 centimeters by 44 cm. It was stamped with Hideyoshi's red seal, meaning he penned it himself. The letter was written on March 10, 1589. According to Teruhisa Sakai, the temple's curator, Hideyoshi wrote that his wish for the recovery of his mother, Omandokoro, from illness had been granted. He also notified the addressee that a gift of rice was on its way as reward and to build a temple. Historians said Hideyoshi may have donated 300 tons of rice. "It (the letter) can be utilized to verify the dates of when other letters were written, based on the quality of the paper, the shape of the red seal and other factors," Sakai said. Two more letters associated with Hideyoshi were also found. In another red-sealed letter, he extends his gratitude to Kiyomizudera for giving him two sets of "yukata" light summer kimono when the warlord visited the Arima onsen hot spring resort in present-day Kobe for health treatment.

Source: Original letter from warlord Hideyoshi found in Kyoto
 

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This is perhaps more of financial significance, but it has a historical impact: Osaka's Dojima Commodity Exchange (大阪堂島商品取引所) will end trading in rice futures, nearly 300 years after they began trading as the first product on the world's oldest futures exchange.


In the Edo period (1603-1867), most of the rice collected by feudal domains as tax was transported to major cities, such as Osaka. Feudal domains sold tax rice stored at kurayashiki (combined warehouses and residences) around Nakanoshima to rice brokers through auctions and issued rice bills (notes promising to exchange for rice) to successful bidders. The rice bills, including those to exchange for rice to be delivered to Osaka, were actively traded. In 1730, the Tokugawa shogunate authorized a spot market to trade rice bills and a futures market to trade representative brands of rice on a book in Dojima. This marked the inception of an official market known as Dojima Rice Exchange, which was equipped with a membership system and clearing function similar to exchanges in the modern era and is widely known as the forerunner to organized futures exchanges in the world. The rice price formed at Dojima Rice Exchange was disseminated by couriers or flag signals across hundreds of kilometers, reaching the capital and other major cities. Many of the trading rules and practices developed in Dojima were carried over to commodity, equity, and financial futures exchanges afterwards.


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Dojima Rice Exchange: painting by Hiroshige (1797-1858, Osaka Prefectural Nakanoshima Library)

 

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A special exhibition entitled Buddhist Art Paradise: Jewels of the Nara National Museum is held until 12 September 2021. The exhibition traces the 1,400-year Buddhist art history in Japan through 246 artworks, of which 13 are national treasures.

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Seated Yakushi Nyorai (Heian Period; photo credit: Asahi)

The items, which are all from the museum's collection, include the "Golden Light of the Most Victorious Kings Sutra," a national treasure produced in the Nara Period (710-784). It represents a classic type of Buddhist sutra created to pray for continued peace and stability in the country. It is said that Emperor Shomu ordered state-sponsored Kokubunji temples in every province to enshrine a copy of the sutra in a pagoda. Another national treasure, the "Seated Yakushi Nyorai," was created in the Heian Period (794-1185). The 50-centimeter-tall statue is characterized by its chiseled face and sharply sculpted creases of the robe.


Details on the exhibition:

 

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This is the fascinating story of the US flag Commodore Perry presented to an American immigrant who settled on Chichijima (父島) some 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo in the early 19th century. The original flag was burnt during WW II because his grandfather and other family members feared they would be persecuted as the offspring of Americans if the authorities found out about it.

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"I hope the new flag will help us pass on accounts of the vicissitudes of our island's fortunes and the meaning of peace," said Takashi, 63, who is descended from Nathaniel Savory (1794-1874), a native of Massachusetts who settled in Chichijima in May 1830. The replica was presented as a symbolic gesture by Akira Kondo, a watch shop owner in Saijo, Ehime Prefecture, who was saddened by the Savory family's decision to destroy the artifact treasured as part of its heritage. The flag wasn't the U.S. national emblem that everyone knows today. It bore the markings of the 31 stars that flew 168 years ago, when America had fewer states than it does now.

 

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Glass beads excavated from the tomb of a king of Itokoku in Fukuoka Prefecture in the 1960s were likely brought to Japan through the ancient Silk Road trade route network.

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A group of researchers, led by Tomomi Tamura of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, reported the finding at an academic conference held online on Sept. 18. The group analyzed an artifact made of two-layer blue glass beads, discovered from the Hirabaru ruins in Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture, in the 1960s. The ruins are believed to be the former tomb of a king of Itokoku, a nation appearing in a Chinese history book known as "Gishiwajinden." Tamura said the beads found in Itoshima were "likely brought to East Asia through a trade route known as the 'Steppe Route' that connects Eurasia's east and west and passes through Central Asia and the Mongolian plateau." During a research trip to Mongolia, Tamura noted a similarity in terms of colors and shapes between the beads and an artifact excavated from a tomb of the equestrian nomadic people known as the Kyodo. The tribe flourished in the same period as the Yayoi Pottery Culture Period (1000 B.C.-A.D. 250). While working on a joint project between the institute and the national museum of Kazakhstan, Tamura learned that the same glass beads had been excavated from ruins in Kazakhstan. With help from the Itokoku History Museum in the city of Itoshima, which stores artifacts from the Hirabaru ruins, as well as research institutions in Mongolia and Kazakhstan, the researchers led by Tamura studied and X-rayed the glass beads. They found that the beads were made of soda glass containing natron. They also contained antimony and manganese. The researchers concluded they were likely all made in the same place. Various glasses containing natron are believed to originate from the Mediterranean coast area, which would have been under the domain of the Roman Empire. "Exchanges between the Han Dynasty in the East and the Roman Empire in the West were active in Eurasia in the same period as the Yayoi Period," said Tadashi Nishitani, a professor emeritus at Kyushu University who specializes in archeology in East Asia. "Itokoku was one such center of international exchange and various products from abroad were likely brought there via the Korean Peninsula."


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Photo credit: Itokoku History Museum
 

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More "ancient news" from Kyushu: researchers from the Kasuga municipal board of education announced that prehistoric people in Japan apparently used an advanced system of weights and measurements on a decimal basis, as excavations at a Yayoi period site suggest:

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Decuple weight, right, and a trigintuple weight shown at the Nakoku-no-Oka historical museum in Kasuga, Fukuoka Prefecture
(Photo credit: Junko Watanabe)


Researchers identified what is known as a decuple weight with 10 times the reference unit mass of 11 grams among artifacts unearthed at a series of archaeological sites collectively known as the Sugu group, where many measurement weights have previously been discovered, the Kasuga municipal board of education said. Board officials said Sept. 1 that the decuple weight, the first artifact of its kind to be found in Japan, offers valuable insight into Yayoi culture. The stone, which is cylindrical in shape, weighs 116.3 grams. Unearthed in 1989 from the Sugu-Okamoto archaeological site, the artifact was recently re-examined by researchers who included Junichi Takesue, a Fukuoka University professor emeritus of archaeology, who identified it as a measurement weight. The object was likely used with a set of scales, he said. The archaeologists identified another artifact from the same site as a trigintuple weight, with 30 times the reference unit mass. Weights with 1, 3, 6, 20 and 30 times the reference unit mass were identified last year among artifacts previously found at the Sugu sites. Bronze weights measuring approximately 11 grams, which likely follow the same scaling system, have also been unearthed at an archaeological site in southern South Korea. The Sugu site group is believed to have formed a core part of the early Japanese state of Na, which is mentioned in "Weizhi Worenzhuan," a section of a Chinese history book dating from the third century. It is believed a bronzeware workshop was located near the site where the decuple weight was unearthed. Researchers speculated that the weights may have been used to weigh copper and lead used for the mix.

 

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This is probably Japan's first photo of a pet cat. It shows Han, the cat of the last shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu (photo taken in 1868 after he had retired to Shizuoka).

tokugawa-yoshinobu-pet-cat-han.jpg


 

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A rare find: a photo showing Crown Prince Yoshihito, the future Taisho Emperor, on a visit to Matsue Castle:

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A group photo showing Emperor Taisho (1879-1926) with some 260 people in this west Japan city in 1907, when he was crown prince, has been found, highlighting his interaction with commoners at a time when emperors were divinized and such contact with large groups was rare.

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The crown prince flanked by Admiral Togo and the governor of Shimane Prefecture, Matsunaga Takekichi
(photo credit: Matsue Municipal Government)



 

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The Zutō (頭塔) pyramid, a national historic site in the ancient Japanese capital of Nara constructed in the 8th century CE, has been getting more media attention since summer, as the adjacent hotel that obstructed the view, has been demolished.

The structure, dating from the Nara period (710-794), stands atop a square base measuring 32 meters per side, with seven square layers of soil and stone creating a 10-meter high tower. In 767, the first year of the Jingo-keiun era, Jitchu, a Buddhist monk at Todai-ji temple who established the Shuni-e ceremony still held every year, is said to have built the structure under orders from Todai-ji's head priest, Roben. It is said that the head of Genbo, a Buddhist monk with major influence over politics who was later exiled to Dazaifu in Kyushu, was buried on the site, and that this was the origin of Zuto's name -- which is comprised of the kanji characters for "head" and "tower".

The Nara Prefectural Government holds special openings of the structure in spring and autumn. Visitors wishing to visit at other times must book at least a day in advance by calling 0742-26-3171 (Japanese language only). For a fee of 300 yen, they can look around the site between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the reserved date.



zuto.jpg zuto02.jpg zuto03.jpg

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A prewar trove of state records of the imperial Privy Council dating from the Meiji Era was found in a farmer's storehouse in Nagano Prefecture.

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The haul includes a letter penned by Kaneko Kentaro (1853-1942), who drafted the Meiji Constitution with Japan's first prime minister, Ito Hirobumi (1841-1909). The missive was addressed to Hara Yoshimichi (1867-1944), the chairman of the Privy Council who hailed from present-day Suzaka in Nagano Prefecture. Another interesting discovery was a letter to a secretary by Hiranuma Kiichiro (1867-1952), who resigned as prime minister after the conclusion of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, saying that Europe's situation was "complicated and bizarre," as well as a receipt. A travel application submitted by the Privy Council's chair to the prime minister, a request for a change of air for health reasons, the English draft of Japan's postwar Constitution and a host of other items were among the 326 documents.

 

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And here's another exciting story of a Buddhist statue under repair: the 11-face Kannon Buddhist statue (ichinichi-zoryubutsu) at Otokunidera Temple (乙訓寺) in Kyoto dates back to the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) and is only the third known example in Japan of an ancient wooden deity having been carved in a single day of devotion.

Restorers were astonished to discover numerous strips of paper secreted inside that detailed how the wooden object was completed by a Buddhist sculptor within a single day in the hope of fulfilling the wishes of those who made donations for the project. Ichinichi-zoryubutsu refers to statues engraved by Buddhist carvers over the course of a day to pray for rain or the end to an epidemic.

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ichinichi-zoryubutsu-02.jpg


 

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A special viewing of murals of Horyuji temple's Kondo main hall started today for donors to a crowdfunding campaign to preserve the artefacts. The viewing is limited to 500 donors. I wonder how much each of them had to contribute to be granted access.

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Photo credit: Asahi / Satoru Ogawa

The first large-scale exhibition of the 12 mural screens in 27 years runs through Nov. 21. The state-designated important cultural properties are believed to have been created from the latter half of the seventh century to the first half of the eighth century. The paintings, renowned as ancient treasures of Buddhist art, were scorched and damaged by a fire inside Kondo in 1949. Five hundred people who gave to the crowdfunding campaign will be permitted to see the murals at the temple. The funds raised are to be used for studies and research to enable future viewing of the murals by the general public. [...] Groups of five are allowed to view the murals at a time for 30 minutes. Visitor numbers were limited to prevent deterioration of the murals. Inside a reinforced concrete storehouse, four large mural screens that reproduce the Buddhist Pure Lands for Buddha, Amitabha, Maitreya and Bhaisajyaguru and eight small mural screens describing Bodhisattva have been preserved along with pillars burnt black. The storehouse is located east of Kondo and the Five-Storied Pagoda, known as the world's oldest wooden structure.

 

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I think a minimum of 10,000 yen.
 
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