Photo/IllutrationThe main hall of Kosanji temple in Kyoto was damaged by fallen trees due to Typhoon No. 21 last year. (Provided by Kosanji)

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  • Photo/Illustraion
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  • Photo/Illustraion

KYOTO--Kosanji temple here, famous for scrolls often credited as Japan's oldest manga, is soliciting donations online to cover substantial damage inflicted by a typhoon last autumn.

Typhoon No. 21 toppled more than 300 Japanese cedar and cypress trees that were 100 to 300 years old within the temple's precincts when it struck in September 2018, according to Kosanji representatives.

The main hall of the temple, a World Heritage site, now tilts after two huge trees fell on its roof.

Fallen trees also damaged the roofs of the treasure storehouse and a hall that honors a statue of monk Myoe (1173-1232), designated an important cultural property by the government.

“The temple survived fire, flooding and many other disasters, including a war in the medieval period, in its long history,” said Shuji Fukatsu, 31, a steward at Kosanji. “The latest damage was unprecedented compared with past typhoons.”

A helicopter carried off broken trees, but work is still under way to repair the main hall’s roof and stone walls along the front approach to Kosanji. The reconstruction work is expected to continue until March.

Kosanji has started a crowdfunding campaign to collect 45 million yen ($421,000).

Repairs are estimated to cost 480 million yen. Although 70 percent of the costs will be covered by subsidies from the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Kosanji, which operates mainly on visitors’ admission fees, needs to raise huge funds by itself to pay the rest.

The temple houses “Choju Jinbutsu Giga” (Scrolls of Frolicking Animals), which were created between the Heian Period (794-1185) and the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) and depict anthropomorphic animals such as rabbits and monkeys.

The scrolls are said to have inspired the modern manga culture of Japan.

Nicole Rousmaniere, a Japanese art researcher who organized an exhibition themed on manga at the British Museum in London this year, said it was vital to preserve the scrolls.

“A wide range of support is essential to help rebuild Kosanji, which has preserved ‘Choju Jinbutsu Giga,’ a globally important cultural asset, and other works symbolizing Japan’s art culture,” said Rousmaniere. “I want to offer concrete assistance on my own.”

According to the temple’s records, Kosanji was commissioned by Emperor Konin (709-781) in 774.

Myoe, who revitalized the temple, promoted academic research and art activities in the Kamakura Period, and many national treasures and important cultural properties are now kept at Kosanji.

Kosanji is accepting donations to aid its reconstruction until Dec. 28 on the A-port crowdfunding site operated by The Asahi Shimbun (https://a-port.asahi.com/projects/kosanji/).

Depending on the amounts of their contributions, donors will be presented with gifts: a full-size replica of one of the “Choju Jinbutsu Giga” scrolls for people who offer 500,000 yen; a notebook made from fallen Japanese cedar trees used to collect red stamps of temples for 30,000-yen donors; a temple stamp notebook themed on the scrolls for donors of 10,000 yen; and a good luck charm featuring the scrolls for 3,000-yen donors.