Japan’s famous Horyuji Temple announced on June 15th that it will launch a crowdfunding campaign to raise $148,800 (20 million yen) to finance maintenance costs.
Update: The campaign has since reached its goal and actually exceeded it by 361 percent.
Meanwhile, such campaigns are common among temples in Japan when they need to make repairs or renovate, as it is difficult to collect the needed funds in any other way.
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The pandemic has significantly reduced revenue for the Horyuji Temple
Shobo Ono, the temple’s chief administrator, said that while officials are concerned about how people will perceive the fundraiser, there is no choice but to conduct such a campaign.
“We want to prepare the temple to receive many visitors when the pandemic is under control,” Ono said. “Visits from believers will help us the most.
Horyuji Temple is the first in Japan to be designated a World Heritage Site and will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the designation next year. However, it has been in very poor condition for several years.
The main source of income for the temple is entrance fees from visitors, as there is no system to collect donations. However, the pandemic has caused the number of visitors to drop sharply.
In the fiscal year 2019, there were nearly 650,000 visitors. The following year, the number dropped to 200,000. In fiscal 2021, it rose again to about 350,000 but remained well below the 2019 numbers.
Cost-cutting measures are visible throughout the temple
In light of the chanting attendance numbers, measures have already been taken to save money. For example, a project to renovate major buildings has been postponed for several years and repairs to some statues and paintings have been canceled.
Maintenance of the grounds has also been affected. Before the pandemic, the temple spent about 20 million yen (about 141,650 euros) annually on maintenance, including lawn mowing and tree trimming. However, spending has been cut by 35 percent and the result is now more than evident.
There are about 150 buildings on the temple’s 187,000-square-meter site. Of these, 55 have been designated as national treasures by the Japanese government, including the Golden Hall, the Five-Story Pagoda, and the Hall of Dreams.
The temple also houses a collection of about 65,000 artifacts, including 2,500 items considered national treasures and important cultural properties.
Horyuji Temple is believed to have been founded around 607 by Emperor Suiko and Prince Shotoku.
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First published in Sumikai, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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