Canadian teenager questioned by police for carving name into 8th century Japanese temple

Toshodaiji Temple (Getty Images )

Toshodaiji Temple (Getty Images )

A Canadian teenager has been questioned by police for allegedly carving his name into a wooden pillar at an 8th century temple in Japan.

The 17-year-old boy sparked fury among locals after defacing the UNESCO-listed Toshodaiji Kondo temple in Nara on Friday, July 7.

A Japanese visitor saw the boy carving the pillar with his fingernail and told him to stop before notifying temple employees.

He was later questioned by police on suspicion of violating the cultural properties of the protection law.

“On the southwest side of Toshodaiji Kondo, there are wooden pillars supporting the roof,” a police official told CNN. “On the pillars to the side, the boy carved ‘Julian’ on a wooden pillar about 170 centimeters above the ground with his nail.”

“The boy admitted his act and said it was done not with the intention of harming Japanese culture,” said the official. “He is now with his parents, who were with him when the incident occurred.”

The temple is one of eight sites that make up the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara.

According to UNESCO’s website, the monuments, which include Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, “provide a vivid picture of life in the Japanese capital in the eighth century, a period of profound political and cultural change”.

Nara is around 45km (28 miles) south of Kyoto, and was once the capital of Japan. It remains popular with tourists.

Under Japanese law, any person who has damaged an object of “important cultural property” could face up to five years in prison, or a fine of ¥300,000 (£1,650).

It comes after a tourist from Britain provoked outrage for carving his and his fiancée’s names on the Colosseum in Rome.

Ivan Dimitrov, 27, a Bulgarian fitness instructor living in Bristol, was caught on camera carving “Ivan+Hayley 23” into the 2,000-year-old amphitheater last month. Italy’s culture minister called the action “offensive to everyone”.

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