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Doors of delight

Doors of delight

The Byōdō-in is a Buddhist temple near Kyoto, Japan, which is registered as a Japanese National Treasure and World Heritage Site and, as such, appears on the backside of the Japanese 10 yen coin. Its most famous part, and the only remaining original building, is the Phoenix Hall or Hōō-dō, which was constructed in 1053.

As the paint on the original west doors to the Hōō-dō was fading, MonshoKamii, Chief Priest of the temple, had a special team collect the remaining small paint particles, a painstaking process that took around 10 years, in order to reproduce the colours and the image using the latest digital printing methods. He then contacted Agfa Graphics Japan, where experts carefully matched the colours using in-house colour management technology and used an Anapurna 2050i wide-format inkjet printer to print onto two new doors, each of which measured 1.2m x 2.5m and was crafted from 400-year old Japanese cypress wood.

However, the project proved to be far from straightforward. As the doors weren’t flat, a special technique was developed to print on to the curved surface of the frames using a bespoke tool that was created on a 3D printer. In addition, a particular kind of white ink was used to imitate the original white parts of the doors.

Now, to the complete satisfaction of all concerned, the replacement doors have been successfully mounted on their new hinges in the temple, where their replicated beauty can once again be properly appreciated by both monks and visitors.

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