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Nara's Todaiji temple closed, but keeps Great Buddha window open for pandemic prayers

The face of Todaiji temple's Great Buddha is seen through an open window in the temple's main hall, in the city of Nara on April 24, 2020. (Mainichi/Rei Kubo)

NARA -- Todaiji temple in Japan's ancient capital Nara suspended entrance to its main hall on April 24 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but kept a front window open so that people could still see the face of the enormous Great Buddha statue inside, ready to hear visitors' prayers.

The hall is currently scheduled to reopen after May 31, making the closure the temple's longest since the end of World War II. The window is usually opened only about 10 days a year total, for the Bon festival, New Year's Day and other ritual days.

The temple also started a 24-hour video livestream of the statue. The moves were a response to people's hopes for an end to the pandemic, as "now is the time to pray to the Great Buddha."

People can see the livestream at:

(Japanese original by Yusuke Kato, Nara Bureau)

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