January 26, 2024
Vol. 32: FROM THE EDITOR
Iremember finding it shocking to learn in April 2019 that two-thirds of the wooden roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris had been destroyed by fire. Perhaps even more surprising was the news that this historic building lacked fire suppression equipment like sprinklers. If only more fire prevention measures had been taken, I thought, the damage might not have been so bad.
Many of Japan’s historic buildings are made of wood. On countless occasions throughout the nation’s long history, precious buildings have been lost to fires caused by natural disasters and wars. And with each loss, lessons have been learned and new fire prevention measures have been adopted at the nation’s Important Cultural Properties. One of the quickest to adapt has been Todaiji in Nara, a temple that contains several National Treasures.
In this special feature, we pay a visit to Todaiji to learn about its fire prevention measures. Taking Todaiji as an example, we explore the wisdom, refined over centuries, that has preserved its valuable cultural assets for future generations.