On top of the hill: Shuri Castle was set ablaze around 2.30 a.m. The cause of the fire remains unknown. (Image vie Evening Standards)
Shuri Castle devastated by fireOn early Thursday morning, flame engulfed the Shuri Castle, devastating its main structure. Shuri Castle, located in Naha, capital of Okinawa Prefecture, South Japan, is listed as one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
Ryo Kochi, a spokesman with the Okinawa prefectural police, retold the chronology of the blaze. The fire started the alarm at around 2.30 am and it started from the main building. The fire spread fast to ruin the north and south structures of the castle.
Dozens of fire engines were dispatched to extinguish the fire, and other reports suggested that other building complexes might also catch fire.
While the cause of the fire remains unknown, there were no reports of any casualty. Kochi stated that there is an event being held at Shuri Castle from 27 October, and there are some works related to the event. However, Kochi doubted the work as the cause of the fire.
The Mayor of Naha, Mikiko Shiroma, could not state her grief over the fire that almost destroyed the symbol of Okinawa. Moreover, she added that many people are residing near the castle, and the fire might have threatened them. Shiroma promised a speedy recovery of the castle.
Built around five millennia ago, the wooden Shuri Castle was built in the era of the Ryukyu Dynasty (12th – 17th century), and it was burned down three times during the era. Designated as Japan’s national treasure in 1933, the castle almost saw its destruction in WWII during the Battle of Okinawa from April to June 1945.
It was reopened back in 1992 as a national park. The current castle was an effort of reconstruction based on the original blueprint of the castle and compilation of photos of the old castle. In 2000, Shuri Castle was listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
Shuri Castle is scheduled to be one of the stops for the 2020 Summer Olympics’ torch relay.