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Canadian tourist accused of vandalizing 1,200-year-old temple in Japan

The vandalism occurred at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the ancient city of Nara, Japan.
The vandalism occurred at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the ancient city of Nara, Japan. Copyright Getty Images
Copyright Getty Images
By David Mouriquand
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An eighth-century Japanese temple and UNESCO World Heritage site in Nara Prefecture, Toshodaiji Temple, has been vandalized.


Following the defacing of the Colosseum in Rome by a British tourist, a Canadian teen has now been accused of defacing UNESCO-recognised Toshodaiji Temple in the historic city of Nara, Japan.

The unnamed 17-year-old was questioned by police, according to local media, for allegedly carving the letter “J” and the name “Julian” with his nails into a wooden pillar of the sacred Buddhist temple’s Golden Hall.

Staff at the 1,200-year-old temple were reportedly alerted by a Japanese tourist who witnessed the alleged vandalism. The teen is being investigated on suspicion of violation the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties.

“Even though it may have been done without malice, it is still regrettable and sad,” a monk at the Toshodaiji temple said.

Nara Prefectural Police - Twitter
A photo provided by the Nara Prefecture Police shows the name “Julian” carved by the teenNara Prefectural Police - Twitter

The Toshodaiji Temple founded by the 8th-century Chinese monk Jianzhen, is one of eight sites that make up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, which UNESCO listed as a World Heritage Site in 1998.

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The Buddhist temple was completed in 759 ADGetty Images

This latest act of vandalism comes after a British tourist was accused of defacing the Colosseum in Rome, engraving his and his girlfriend’s names into an internal wall with a key. The incident, caught on film and posted to social media, soon went viral. If convicted for damaging a heritage cultural site, Dimitrov faces a fine of up to €15,000, as well as potential jail-time of two to five years.

YouTube - Twitter
Dimitrov defacing the Colosseum in viral videoYouTube - Twitter

Alongside his grovelling letter of apology to Rome Mayor Roberto Gualtieri, Bristol resident Ivan Dimitrov stated he was unaware of its history and age. An official at Rome city council responded: “What nonsense and what a surreal letter. What level of education does this man have not to know the significance of the Colosseum?”

Additional sources • Kyodo News Agency

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