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Vandalism suspected in dozens of gashes found in 16th century Japanese castle

Scratches found on the wooden frame of the entrance to the moon-viewing turret inside Okayama Castle in Okayama's Kita Ward are seen in this Jan. 19, 2021 photo. (Mainichi/Kazuki Iwamoto)

OKAYAMA -- Cuts have been found in 30 spots inside Okayama Castle, including the moon-viewing turret -- a nationally designated important cultural property -- and tower keep, the Okayama city government announced on Jan. 19.

    Officials believe the damage was inflicted deliberately, and the western Japan city has filed a report with police. Okayama Prefectural Police's Okayama Chuo Police Station will launch an investigation into the case as a suspected violation of the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties.

    The scratches were found in 23 locations inside the castle keep, three places in the moon-viewing turret, and two spots each on two gates within the castle, according to the city and other sources. The largest gash mark in the moon-viewing turret measured about 1.2 meters, and scratches in two parallel lines resembling the kanji character for the number two were discovered in the wooden frame of the entrance.

    Cleaning workers noticed a scratch on a display case in the castle on the morning of Jan. 18. Staff at the castle subsequently conducted inspections and identified other scratches, and contacted the municipal officials overseeing the property.

    Similar damage has been reported at Matsuyama Castle and Kochi Castle -- also in western Japan -- earlier this month, and staff had apparently been warning each other to stay alert.

    Okayama Castle keep director Takao Inamoto said, "It's regrettable that the symbol of Okayama was damaged. I can't understand what they were thinking when they did this."

    (Japanese original by Kazuki Iwamoto, Okayama Bureau)

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