Shuri Castle, historic tourist draw in Japan, is destroyed by fire

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, June 17, 2024

Shuri Castle, historic tourist draw in Japan, is destroyed by fire
Shuri Castle is engulfed in flames in Naha, Okinawa prefecture, southern Japan on early October 31, 2019. A fire ripped through the ancient Japanese Shuri castle on the southern island of Okinawa early on October 31 morning, spreading throughout the historic World Heritage site's complex, local authorities said. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP.

by Daniel Victor

OKINAWA (NYT NEWS SERVICE ).- A devastating fire on Thursday destroyed most of Shuri Castle, a top tourist destination on the Japanese island of Okinawa and a World Heritage site that was once the seat of a kingdom that spanned 450 years.

No one was injured in the blaze, which was first reported at 2:40 a.m. and was extinguished by 11 a.m., according to local officials and news reports. But the fire burned seven buildings to the ground, including the austere main hall, according to NHK, the national broadcaster.

Television images showed flames engulfing the skeleton of the main hall, a symbol of Okinawa that sat on a hill overlooking the city of Naha. Officials have not yet determined the cause of the fire.

The wooden castle, first built more than 500 years ago, served as the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which ruled from 1429 to 1879, when the Ryukyu Islands were annexed by Japan. It has been destroyed several times in its history, most recently in 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa in World War II. The site was reopened as a national park in 1992, and the castle was restored to its original appearance.

Tourists flocked to it, and UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site in 2000.

“The exact replica of the lost structure is now a great monument symbolizing the pride of the Ryukyu people,” the indigenous inhabitants of the islands, the UNESCO website says. The Ryukyu Islands are southwest of the four main islands of Japan.

Inside its red tiled exterior, the castle offered visitors modern museum exhibits showcasing ancient artifacts.

Kurayoshi Takara, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus, told NHK that the fire took not just the building and its history, but also many of the priceless artifacts, like tools used in the kingdom. “I cannot accept the reality,” he said.

Mikiko Shiroma, the mayor of Naha, the capital of Okinawa prefecture, said the local government would consult with the central government on reconstruction, according to Ryukyu Shimpo, a local newspaper.

City officials said that no sprinklers had been installed inside the castle, but that there were some under the roof of the main building to prevent fire from entering from outside, the newspaper reported. Inspections are conducted twice a year, and fire drills occur at least once per year, the officials said.

In April, after the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, cultural officials in Japan said they would conduct emergency inspections of national treasures and take new precautions to prevent fires.

“I have no words as a former minister in charge of cultural heritage,” Masahiko Shibayama, a former education minister, said on Twitter. “After the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, we’ve just started reviewing fire countermeasures at cultural assets.”

Today's News

November 1, 2019

Museum De Lakenhal opens 'Young Rembrandt: Rising Star' exhibition

A long-lost Lou Reed tape with a surprise: Andy Warhol lyrics

Christie's auctioned a $40 million diamond. Was it stolen?

Shuri Castle, historic tourist draw in Japan, is destroyed by fire

Christie's to auction YSL jacket of Van Gogh 'Sunflowers'

Exhibition explores the themes epidermis, conditio humana and cosmos

Louvre in push to display 'missing' Da Vinci: Culture expert

Sotheby's announces sale of Israeli & International Art on 21 November in NYC

Hindman announces Property from Ebony Fashion Fair: The Final Show

Phillips selects studioMDA to design new space at 432 Park Ave.

1965 Mercedes-Benz off road for 44 years with just 7,295 miles on the clock for sale with H&H Classics

A watch collector's wish list: Important watches at Sotheby's Geneva

LINEUP: Almine Rech New York opens a group exhibition

Hamburger Bahnhof opens an exhibition of works by Lawrence Abu Hamdan

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker presents pioneering early choreographies in Dusseldorf

Nomura presents US$1 million Nomura Art Award to renowned Colombian artist Doris Salcedo

Sterling Associates to auction art and furniture from New Jersey estates

Cape Ann Museum announces new appointments

Ancient Resource Auctions' Holiday Antiquities Discovery Sale has antiquities from an array of cultures

Heritage Auctions shatters world record with $504,000 result for Ricky Williams' 1998 Heisman Trophy

Landmarks and heritage sites ravaged by fire

The Eskenazi Museum of Art celebrates the reopening of its I. M. Pei building with museum fest

Rodin sculptures highlight Bonhams Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful