Todaiji temple, an eighth-century Japanese temple and UNESCO World Heritage site in Nara Prefecture, has been vandalized, with a building showing the image of what looks like a cat, police said Thursday.

Wooden door of a Todaiji temple building in Nara Prefecture shows a vandalized image of what looks like a cat on Aug. 3, 2023 (Kyodo)

Someone is believed to have used their finger to form the image on a wooden door of the building annexed to the temple's Nigatsu-do hall, the police said, adding that they are investigating the case as a possible violation of the cultural properties protection law.

At around 6 a.m. on Thursday, a visitor brought the act of vandalism to a temple worker's attention. The illicit image, approximately 43 centimeters long and 30 cm wide, was found etched into the wall at a height of about 180 cm from the ground.

The building where the vandalism was found was built during the late Kamakura period, which lasted about 150 years until 1333. It was designated as an important cultural property in 1906.

Todaiji is famous for its 15-meter-high statue of the Great Buddha and is among the Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

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