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What's going on in Japan? (No.37)

8th-century Ashura statue dazzling visitors in Nara

NARA--An eighth-century wooden statue of Ashura, a Buddhist guardian deity, is dazzling visitors with its mesmerizing looks at Kofukuji temple here. Some 2 million people have visited the temple's treasure house, where Ashura, a national treasure, and other celebrated sculptures have been on display since the building reopened in March 2010 after a face-lift. Nara, the nation’s capital during the Nara Period (710-784), has a number of historically prominent temples. But few other exhibits in the city have drawn such visitor numbers. The statue, which stands 153.4 centimeters high, has three faces and six hands. Ashura and other sculptures are now displayed under friendlier lighting--light-emitting diodes instead of halogen bulbs. LEDs radiate almost no heat, infrared or ultraviolet rays. Nor do they cause discoloring or damage to centuries-old exhibits. They consume much less energy than bulbs.

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