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44-yr-old nabbed over graffiti at World Heritage temple in ancient capital Kyoto

Graffiti apparently rendered with permanent markers is seen on a plaster wall of the main gate to Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto's Ukyo Ward. (Photo courtesy of Ryoanji Temple)
Graffiti apparently rendered with permanent markers is seen on a plaster wall of the main gate to Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto's Ukyo Ward. (Photo courtesy of Ryoanji Temple)

KYOTO -- A 44-year-old man was arrested on Nov. 24 for allegedly drawing graffiti on the main gate to Ryoanji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site in this western Japan city, local police said.

"Ryoanji Temple is a spiritual spot. I drew the graffiti as I was filled with a creative desire," the man, a company employee from Yokohama south of Tokyo, was quoted as telling police. He stands accused of damaging property and has reportedly admitted to the allegations against him.

According to Kyoto Prefectural Police's Ukyo Police Station, the man is suspected of drawing graffiti with permanent markers in three colors on a plaster wall of the main gate to the temple in the ancient capital's Ukyo Ward at around 3:40 p.m. on Nov. 24.

The graffiti, written vertically in four lines using both kanji Chinese characters and hiragana phonetic characters, measures around 30 centimeters square in total. One of the lines was rendered in blue, the one next to it in red and the other two in black.

The stone garden at Ryoanji Temple is seen in Kyoto's Ukyo Ward. (Mainichi/Ai Kawahira)

A tourist who spotted the man scribbling the graffiti reported his actions to police, and officers who rushed to the scene arrested him after he acknowledged the allegations during questioning near the spot.

"In the future, I'd like to become a mythology and science fiction writer," the man was quoted as telling investigators, according to the police station.

The world-famous temple, best known for its stone garden, has already removed the graffiti with sandpaper and other materials.

(Japanese original by Kanae Soejima and Ai Kawahira, Kyoto Bureau)

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