A man was arrested after stealing a Buddha statue from a temple to pay for his living expenses in the Kamigyo district of Kyoto, Japan on Tuesday, June 14.
The thief, identified as Naohiro Okazaki, a 51-year-old unemployed man and former member of Ryuhonji Temple, the main temple of the Nichiren Shoshu branch of Buddhism in Kyoto’s Kamigyo district, was arrested on Tuesday June 14 on suspicion of having flight after allegedly taking off with a Buddha statue called “Gattenji” from the temple in June 2021.
Admitting to the crime, Okazaki confessed that after stealing the sacred statue, he had no choice but to sell the artifact “to pay for his living expenses”. Japan today reported.
The incident came to light after the stolen Buddha statue was put up for sale on online site Yahoo! Auction May 1 earlier this year. However, after authorities learned that the statue was stolen from Ryuhonji Temple last year, the relic was returned to the temple.
The “Gattenji” statue has been on display in Ryuhonji Temple since 1708.
In a similar but unrelated incident, an idol of Avalokiteshwara Padamapani was recovered more than 20 years after being smuggled out of India in February earlier this year. NDTV reported.
The idol of Avalokiteshwara Padamapani dates back to the 8th to 12th century and survived for nearly 1,200 years in the Devisthan Kundulpur temple in Bihar until it was illegally stolen and smuggled out of India in early 2000 .
In Buddhism, Avalokiteshwara is the bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, and in the statue he is depicted standing, holding the stem of a blossoming lotus in his left hand.
The idol was found in Milan through the tireless efforts of India Pride Project, Singapore, and Art Recovery International, London.
“We learn that said sculpture had briefly surfaced on the art market in France, before being located in Milan, Italy. India Pride Project, Singapore, and Art Recovery International, London quickly helped identify and the return of the stolen idol,” the Indian consulate in Milan said in a statement.