-->On June 20, 2008, citizens of Tanabe City learned of the defacing of the statue known as “Hashiori Pass Gyubadoji.” The Chinese characters for Gyubadoji can be separated into the parts – Gyu meaning cow, ba meaning horse, and doji meaning a child (in this instance, the young Ex-emperor, Kazan-in). This statue is on the Nakahechi section of the Kumano Kodo World Heritage pilgrimage route and is often used as a symbol of the
Kumano Kodo. This pilgrimage trail stretches from Kyoto to Nachi in the south of Wakayama Prefecture with the Nakahechi area. Gyubadoji is on the first section of the route after it turns inland towards the first of three grand shrines, Kumano Hongu Taisha. It is little more than a twenty minute hike from the main highway leading to Hongu-cho and Kumano Grand Taisha, and it is a relatively easy hike which is popular with visitors to Kumano.
The statue was defaced with the head of Kazan-in, a retired emperor from the 10th century, being taken.
Most citizens and guides of the world heritage site were shocked and baffled by the theft. It is particularly incongruous because as statues go, it is not very old. It was erected around 1891. The sculptor is unknown.
There are many valuable artifacts of cultural, architectural, and religious significance throughout the Kumano region. In keeping with the spirit of the pilgrimage route, let us pray that such senseless disregard for our common world heritage is not betrayed again.