The man, who works for an organisation that preserves cultural relics, accelerated while the car was in reverse, sending it crashing into the 500-year old wooden door of the toilet
The man, who works for an organisation that preserves cultural relics, accelerated while the car was in reverse, sending it crashing into the 500-year old wooden door of the toilet located in Tofukuji temple in Kyoto.
The 30-year-old man, who works for the Kyoto Heritage Preservation Association, immediately called police after the incident on Monday morning.
No one else was inside the Zen Buddhist temple at the time of the accident, and the driver was unhurt, the Guardian reports.
The “tosu” restroom was built during the Muromachi period about 500 years ago for use by trainee monks, according to the public broadcaster NHK.
Its two-metre-tall double door and interior pillars were damaged in the incident, the Sora News 24 website reported.
A photo in the Sankei Shimbun newspaper showed the car – a 20-year-old Toyota WiLL Vi – inside the building surrounded by what was left of the wooden doors.
The temple, which could accommodate up to 100 monks at a time, contains a row of about 20 toilets, according to the Asahi Shimbun. The newspaper said the conveniences were still in use as recently as the start of the Meiji era (1868-1912).
However, experts say the damage can be repaired.
Toshio Ishikawa, director of the temple’s research institute, said he was “stunned” by the extent of the damage, but relieved that no one had been injured.
“We’d like to restore it before the autumn foliage season, but it will probably take until the new year [to repair it],” he told the Kyoto Shimbun.
While the building is usually closed to visitors, the rows of toilets can be viewed through gaps in the building’s exterior.
While they did not feature bidet or drying functions, the temple’s toilets were conveniently located next to the meditation hall where monks would spend hours trying to achieve Zen enlightenment.