Shuri Castle: Fire Broke Out at 500-Year-Old World Heritage Site in Okinawa

Shuri Castle: Fire Broke Out at 500-Year-Old World Heritage Site in Okinawa

Okinawa’s historic Shuri Castle is has been burned to its skeleton due to a fire which started in the wee hours of the morning.

Image credit: KyodoNews (via YouTube)

Earlier this morning at around 2.40 am (local time), a fierce fire broke out at Okinawa’s Shuri Castle. Based on police reports, the fire has ravaged the site’s main temple and its north and south halls. 

No injuries have been reported thus far, although the fire was said to have engulfed most of the castle’s main structure, taking firefighters over 10 hours to extinguish the flames. 

This Isn’t The Castle’s First Fire Incident

Built as the royal castle of the Ryuku Kingdom (1429–1879), Shuri has been burnt down and restored multiple times over the years. The current structure is a reconstruction. 

Built over 500 years ago, the wooden castle was almost completely destroyed during World War Two. Its most recent fire was in 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa in which 200,000 people lost their lives to US bombing. It has since stood as a symbol of resilience and recovery from World War Two. 

Image credit: umezy12

Until 1972, the island and castle were under US occupation. Made out of wood, with its distinct tiled roof and red walls, the castle became Okinawa’s largest public university campus until it was restored in 1992 as a national park. 

It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 and was going to be included as a stop for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay route. Tourists could also view royal thrones while touring the castle. 

Also read: Shuri Castle: The Gateway to Okinawa’s Culture and History

Investigations are still ongoing for the outbreak of the fire. While there was a tourist event ongoing till 1 am, it remains uncertain if there was any link.

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Alicia Chong
Alicia Chong

Besides dreaming of far-fetched locations, Alicia enjoys training herself and others on ice in figure skating.