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National Treasure: Japan and China defy pandemic to return Ganjin's relics

Joint effort helps Nara temple regain reliquary in time for Buddhist rite

This reliquary, originally brought to Japan by the Buddhist monk Ganjin in the eighth century, was returned safely to Toshodaiji in Nara from the Shanghai Museum in October.

TOKYO -- In the eighth century, the monk Ganjin famously needed six tries to cross the sea from China to Japan, where he established a new school of Buddhism and became the first abbot of Nara's Toshodaiji temple.

More than a millennium later, a treasure brought with the Chinese monk on that final crossing underwent a similarly harrowing journey -- stymied not by storms or pirates, but by the coronavirus pandemic. The painstaking efforts in a race against the clock to return it safely to the temple from the Shanghai Museum showcased the centuries-old bond between the two countries.

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