BUDAPEST, Hungary — The Buddhist temple at the site of the ancient Japanese city of Kumamoto offers a “religious freedom” that critics say infringes on the freedom of others to practice their religion, a Buddhist group in Japan said Monday.
The temple, located in the northeastern city of Nara, has long served as a pilgrimage site for Buddhist pilgrims.
It was built in the 17th century and the majority of its 8,000 worshippers are from Japan, the group said.
Its founder, Shigeo Takada, told The Associated Press that his temple has never discriminated against anyone, and has offered religious freedoms for its members.
He added that he was “shocked” when a local Buddhist group asked him to build the temple because of its religious significance.
He said he is trying to keep the temple open for worship, but would not be able to continue if the requests were not complied with.
The Buddhist group’s president, Kazuhiko Takahashi, said that when he and his wife visited the temple, they found a room decorated with Buddhist statues, and a large altar with flowers and a Buddhist prayer bowl.
The group, which is part of the United Buddhist Association of Japan, said it has no intention of building another temple in the city.
Takahashi also said he has no plans to change the current layout of the temple.
“I don’t have any plans for the temple and have never considered building a new one,” he said.
The Nara temple was built for the Emperor of Japan in the mid-1600s, and is now a popular tourist destination for Japanese visitors.