Photo/IllutrationA graffiti cross mark at Zenkoji temple’s main hall in Nagano on Oct. 9 (Kayoko Sekiguchi)

  • Photo/Illustraion

NAGANO--More than 100 pieces of graffiti have been found here at Zenkoji temple, whose main hall is a designated national treasure, prompting a police search for the culprit.

A woman was filmed by a security camera acting suspiciously near one of the vandalized sites, according to a temple source.

The crimes, which constitute violations of the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, are being investigated by Nagano prefectural police’s Nagano-Chuo Station.

Similar acts of vandalism, mainly white crosses, were also found at shops on a street leading to the temple.

The damage was discovered at 1 p.m. on Oct. 8 when a female visitor showed a member of the temple staff a piece of graffiti she had photographed with her smartphone, according to the temple’s management office and other sources.

More than 100 pieces of graffiti were found that were apparently daubed with white marker pens around the temple complex, including its main hall, and designated national important cultural properties the Sanmon Gate and Kyozo scripture house.

“These acts are profanities against religion. I feel sad and angry,” said Shinsho Wakaomi, 61, the temple’s administrative chief.

Wakaomi said that the temple will respond to the incident by taking measures such as strengthening security patrols around the grounds.

Many sightseers visited Zenkoji on Oct. 9, which was a national holiday, and the last day of a three-day weekend. Visitors were seen taking pictures of the graffiti with their cellphones.

One 66-year-old tourist from Yokohama said, “I can’t forgive this. What is the culprit’s intention? Just to be funny?”

A 44-year-old woman from Nakama, Fukuoka Prefecture, said, “I think this is sinful behavior.”

(This article was written by Takumi Ono and Kayoko Sekiguchi)