Horyuji temple reaches crowdfunding target in less than 12 hours

Horyuji temple in Japan's ancient capital of Nara has achieved its crowdfunding target for the maintenance of the compound in less than half a day.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site has been hit hard financially as visitor numbers have plunged due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The temple launched the campaign at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, with the goal of raising 20 million yen, or about 148,000 dollars, by July 29. It says the target was met in less than 12 hours, at around 30 minutes past midnight.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, more than 1,600 people had donated a total of roughly 28 million yen, or 208,000 dollars.

Horyuji's chief priest had announced the crowdfunding campaign at a news conference on Wednesday. He explained that admissions fees -- the temple's main revenue source -- had plunged to half of the pre-pandemic level.

He said the temple is unable to carry out sufficient maintenance of the compound, such as taking care of the trees and plants, due to fund shortages.

The temple's chief steward, Ono Shobo , said he is grateful that many people have expressed their wish to preserve Horyuji.

He said the donated funds will be spent on maintenance and any extra money will be used to repair Horuyuji's artifacts. He said the details of how the funds are used will be provided online.

The temple says the crowdfunding period may be shortened from the initially planned July 29 because it may run out of gifts for the people who make donations.