Repeated defacing with graffiti of the disused Iwabuchi Floodgate in Kita Ward, Tokyo, a historic industrial symbol of Japan's modernization, has left management officials scratching their heads over how best to stop the vandalism.
According to land ministry officials, the floodgate-built in 1924 and designated as heritage of industrial modernization by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry-has been repeatedly defaced with spray paint in recent years.
The Arakawa-Karyu River Office of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, which is tasked with managing the floodgate, plans to erase the graffiti shortly, but officials are concerned that it will be defaced again as it can easily be accessed.
The floodgate was constructed to control the volume of water flowing from the Arakawa river into the Sumidagawa river. It was designed by Akira Aoyama, an engineer who was involved in the construction of the Panama Canal.
The floodgate, dubbed the "red floodgate" because of its appearance, is cherished by local residents and has been selected as a historic structure by the Tokyo metropolitan government.
The graffiti is mainly found on concrete sections of the floodgate's upper parts where people are allowed to walk. Kanji characters and Roman letters are written in red, white and yellow.
After receiving complaints about the "eyesore" graffiti, the river office decided to erase it at a cost of about ¥200,000 in cleaning agents.
"As local residents are fond of the floodgate, we can't set up a fence [blocking people's access]," a river office official said. "It is a historically valuable structure. We want inconsiderate graffiti stopped."