|The Sleeping Cat carving is removed at Nikko Toshogu shrine in Tochigi Prefecture on June 15. (Takashi Kajiyama)|
The Asahi Shimbun By TAKASHI KAJIYAMA / Staff Writer June 16, 2016
NIKKO, Tochigi Prefecture--Visitors here can still recite “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil”--but they won’t be able to glimpse the famed monkeys behind the proverb for the next nine months.
The “Sanzaru” (Three Wise Monkeys) carving at the Nikko Toshogu shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is about to be taken away for some TLC, hot on the heels of the equally popular “Nemurineko” (Sleeping Cat) carving that was removed by restoration workers on June 15.
The two wood carvings are being spruced up for the first time in about 60 years as their paint has partially peeled over time, and the deterioration has become more noticeable in recent years.
The restoration team will wash off the existing colors, then repaint them and apply gold leaf to the carvings, according to the Association for the Preservation of the Nikko World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples.
The restoration of the Three Wise Monkeys carving is scheduled to be completed next March, and the Sleeping Cat will be ready later this year.
The Nikko Toshogu shrine was established in 1617 to enshrine Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and the first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The clearly faded Three Wise Monkeys carving at Nikko Toshogu shrine in Tochigi Prefecture (Takashi Kajiyama)