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Tuesday, 22nd April 2008
In General Japan News,

New torch relay location chosen in Nagano

A new starting point has been selected for the Nagano leg of the controversy-ridden Olympic torch relay, following Zenkoji Temple's withdrawal.

Due to begin on Monday April 28th, the Beijing Olympic flame will now begin its Japanese journey in a far less glamorous location - a disused car park, 800 metres south-west of the temple, according to Japan Times.

Organiser Yuya Kobayashi explained the choice to the publication, stating: "We were pressed for time but were able to find an alternative site nearby - fortunately, we barely have to change our initial plans."

The opening ceremony for the relay has also undergone a last-minute makeover, with a potted, 15-minute version set to replace the original 30-minute event, the publication reports.

Zenkoji Temple dates back to the 8th century and its grounds include eastern Japan's largest temple structure - the Hondo - and a copy of what is claimed to be the country's first Buddhist statue.

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