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Friday, April 13, 2012

Drawing offers tantalizing hint of ancient high-rise


News photo
News photo
Scraping the sky: A model of a 48-meter-tall structure at Izumo Taisha Shrine in Shimane Prefecture, based on the ancient design drawing (below), is on display at the Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo. KYODO

MATSUE, Shimane Pref. — Izumo Taisha Shrine in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, is displaying the original design drawing for what is believed to be an ancient high-rise some 48 meters high.

The Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo is set to launch a study on the drawing to determine if or when the structure existed by examining letters written on the original drawing. Until now, a copy drafted in the Edo Period (1603-1867) was on display.

The original, on show in the shrine's treasure hall until Sunday, had been kept by the family of the chief priest for generations. The shrine decided to show the original to the public to mark the start of major repair work on its main structure, which takes place about every 60 years.

In 2000, a gigantic pillar comprising three cedar logs whose existence had been suggested by ancient documents was excavated on the shrine's grounds, lending credibility to the possibility the high-rise once stood there.

After Sunday, the drawing, which is 42.5 cm by 30 cm, will be displayed at a series of other locations, including the Tohoku History Museum in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, and the Kyoto National Museum.

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