Fire Destroys Historic Temple in Japan


A fire has razed a 250-year-old wooden temple in Japan, police said Friday, at a site that has been a place of worship since the 13th Century.

Tokumanji temple, which sits deep in the mountains of Nagano prefecture was destroyed by the fire, which started late Thursday night, police said.

The blaze broke out at the chief priest's house and spread to the wooden main hall, gutting an area of 355 square meters (3,800 square feet), a local police spokesman said.

No one was injured in the fire, but locals spoke of having lost a treasure.

"The temple's history goes back to the 13th century, with the current temple building constructed in 1755," said a curator of a local museum.

"The temple was one of very few buildings which survived a big earthquake in 1847," she said. "We lost a very precious asset."

Japan is dotted with temples dedicated to various Buddhist deities, which local people continue to visit at certain points in the calendar and to mark life's milestones.

Buddhism, which was imported to Japan from mainland Asia, sits alongside the native Shintoism. Many people practice elements of both religions, freely mixing their differing traditions and beliefs.

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