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Main buildings of castle at World Heritage site in Okinawa destroyed by predawn fire

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Tragic. Time to rebuild it again.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

The ancient castle is a major tourist spot in the southwestern Japan prefecture. It dates from and represents the Ryukyu Kingdom, which spanned 450 years until Okinawa was integrated into Japan in 1879.

Please, the "ancient castle site" would be more accurate, as you accurately explain why in the very next paragraph!

Although the castle was left in ruins in the wake of fierce ground battles with U.S. forces in 1945, it was restored and opened as a national park in 1992.

And quite beautifully as well!

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191031_09/

The main building looks like it was totally engulfed here! What a loss!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

oh no....Shuri Jo is beautiful .

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The building was being restored by the looks of it from photo's? Expensive loss. Call the carpenters.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

The building was being restored by the looks of it from photo's? Expensive loss. Call the carpenters.

Not restored, that was done a long time ago. There is upkeep, and maintenance done, but just about the entire castle was fully restored years ago.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The building was being restored by the looks of it from photo's? Expensive loss. Call the carpenters.

The picture you saw from Kyodo is not recent, that was a few years back when they were repainting and doing minor repair work!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Yes I see it was restored last year.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

That's shocking news. Was the cause of the fire arson, a short circuit or natural ignition? That's all I want to know and as soon as possible.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Sad & unfortunate no matter how the fire started......

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is terrible. They're still putting out the fires now. They said the restoration finished just this year.

Guy on the news says it might have been an electrical problem.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tragic, utterly tragic. I hope the irreplaceable artifacts were saved.

Wouldn't surprise me if it was arson. The next questions are who and why.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

There have been unsubstantiated reports that due to the time the fire started there has been speculation that it may be arson.

However, there are also substantiated reports that there were people in the castle area until late last night, making preparations for the yearly Shuri Cultural Festival that happens every year around November 3rd, Culture Day, here in Japan. Police and the authorities are investigating the circumstances and interviewing the people who were there late last night.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that it WASNT arson!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

This is very sad news to wake up to. I really hate to see communities lose their their historical buildings (whether original or replica). I’ve not yet had an opportunity to visit Shuri Castle but have enjoyed photos and a few times I’ve seen it showcased on tv. It’s quite different from other castles here and I was hoping one day to see it in person.

“the castle's main temple”

Is the main building of this castle usually referred to as a temple?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Is the main building of this castle usually referred to as a temple?

No, it isnt, however it was on occasion used for some Shinto rites. It was called the "Seiden"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shurijo

Seiden – the "West Hall", also called the State Palace, was situated to the east of the Una, but facing west towards China, and contains the throne room and royal living and ceremonial areas. The western facade includes two 4.1 meter high Dai-Ryu Chu (Great Dragon Pillars), crafted of sandstone from Yonaguni Island, and symbols of the king. The left dragon is called Ungyou, and the right is Agyou, and these motifs are replicated throughout the building including the roof. Other decorative elements include botan (peony flowers), shishi (golden dragons), and zuiun (clouds). The Shichagui (first floor) was where the king personally conducted affairs of state and ceremonies. The Usasuka was the lower area in front of where the king sat, with the Hira-usasuka (side-areas) flanking either side. The second floor included the Ufugui, the area for the queen and her attendants, and the Usasuku, the upper main throne room of the king. Behind it are the Osenmikocha, chambers where the king would pray daily. According to historical records, the Seiden was burned down and rebuilt four times (most recently in 1992), and was also used as the prayer hall for a Shinto shrine between 1923-1945.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

According to the media reports many of the buildings have been totally destroyed.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I was thinking about going to Okinawa next year & visiting Shuri was in the plan. Guess I'm a bit late to see it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The current structure is a reconstruction based on original plans and photos of the old castle.

its a shame the new structure didn’t include any anti-fire systems.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Glad to have seen it before this tragedy...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There have been unsubstantiated reports that due to the time the fire started there has been speculation that it may be arson.

Look, all of the reports are scarce and hearsay so since you are right around corner from there, please get us some first hand info and pics. Shuri Castle to Japan is like Notre Dame to the World. I love walking around the castle.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This is terrible news. I've visited Shuri Castle a couple of times and it was absolutely beautiful. This wasn't one of those ugly concrete reconstructions like Osaka or Nagoya castles, but one which had been painstakingly carried out with original materials, this is a huge loss.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Oh shame. We visited from Brisbane last month. Lovely place. Sad to see it destroyed.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Shocking and sad news. What a waste. It had all been so painstakingly rebuilt in wood, a wonderful structure.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I was thinking about going to Okinawa next year & visiting Shuri was in the plan. Guess I'm a bit late to see it.

I've been considering Okinawa a lot recently and Shuri Castle...sigh.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Photo from above of the aftermath.

https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20191031-00491399-okinawat-oki.view-000

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And the Seiden before it burned down.

https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/articles/gallery/491399?yahoo=y&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=http&utm_campaign=link_back&utm_content=related&ph=2

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What's up with the media? When I turned on the news this morning, the top news was Koike confronting the IOC guy and after about 10 minutes coverage of that they finally got to the Shuri Castle fire!

Does the media, which are all in Tokyo, think they're the all and end all of Japan?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

This news is much more important in Okinawa than the Japanese homeland. It was such a lovely place. I wonder how many irreplaceable treasures were destroyed?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Sad. Given Human nature, sometimes the historical preservationist is more Sisyphus than savior. It must be heartbreaking for those involved with its preservation. Ganbatte! Namida no ato...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sad loss. Glad there were no injuries. It was a rebuild, so it can be rebuilt again.

The wall repairs for Kumamoto castle are slated to cost over 600 million USD, so I'd expect a similar rebuild cost here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I pray that the rebuild includes a fire sprinkler system, especially if they use wood.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I pray that the rebuild includes a fire sprinkler system

About that, I am surprised apparently there was no such system installed.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

GoFund

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Quite the cultural tragedy. Hopefully, the next incarnation will include fire retardant building materials and an extensive sprinkler system.

These temples are made from pine and cedar, both of which are highly combustible woods with high oil content. The fire was obviously very intense due to the extent of devastation. It is quite fortunate nobody was killed in the fire.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There was a sprinkler system apparently and a plentiful water source nearby for firefighting, which they sadly could not reach because of the intensity of the flames.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No sprinklers had been installed, the fire department said.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yubaru, thanks for that information.

“SpeedToday  11:56 am JST

What's up with the media? When I turned on the news this morning, the top news was Koike confronting the IOC guy and after about 10 minutes coverage of that they finally got to the Shuri Castle fire! 

Does the media, which are all in Tokyo, think they're the all and end all of Japan?”

Most of the programs I saw today carried the Shuri fire at the top. The evening news which just started is doing it at the top.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yup, just seen that on the news, as opposed to what I heard earlier. Good spot, presto345! (Even sadder when it could have been preventable.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The city’s fire department said that while the castle had exterior sprinkler systems, its halls were not so equipped as this was not required under local fire codes. Shuri Castle has been destroyed by fire several times, most recently in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

The current castle was only 27 years old and opened in 1992.

We live near the famous Himeji Castle which is still the original one. The property is equipped with a fire alarm system, ITV monitors and sprinklers.

Fire is always the greatest risk to these wooden structures.

Sometimes need to go beyond what the fire codes require has in the Kyoto Anime studio.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Introduction to the Building Standard Law‐ Building Regulation in Japan ‐ (Ver. July 2013)

https://www.bcj.or.jp/upload/international/baseline/BSLIntroduction201307_e.pdf

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Most of our local castle was bombed and burned to the ground by allied bombers in 1945. When they go, they go. Sad.

Fire, one of the four things to be very afraid of in Edo Period Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Osaka Castle was rebuilt with ferro concrete. More castles were destroyed by the Meiji government only allowing one per prefecture. In Hyogo it became Himeji. Akashi castle was destroyed. Another in Kobe.

All castles, along with the feudal domains themselves, were turned over to the Meijigovernment in the 1871 abolition of the han system. During the Meiji Restoration, these castles were viewed as symbols of the previous ruling elite, and nearly 2,000 castles were dismantled or destroyed.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Shocking and sad.

Unbelievable that a wooden structure was not fitted with comprehensive sprinkler systems, especially after the experiences at other world heritage sites around the world (Notre Dame, Yorkminster, Windsor Castle spring to mind).

At least there are records to assist the rebuilding programme.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is it legal to make major constructions in Okinawa that do not have sprinkler systems?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well from the old timers in former Ryukyu this is about the 4th time this castle has burned down so it is nothing new to the older locals. What they did find offensive is that the rebuilt castle incorporated Japanese and Chinese culture when it didn't have any of that in the originals pre WWII. These people are true bona fide blue blood Ryukyu Kingdom generation upon generation with no mixing of Japanese or Chinese in the bloodline.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It is important to keep good documentation of such historic structures, as is done by governments in the U. S. and Europe.  This means having students and professionals create accurate architectural & engineering drawings, in case the buildings or structures are destroyed to facilitate in rebuilding.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

See, also, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Council_on_Monuments_and_Sites

0 ( +0 / -0 )

when I visited this castle back in the 90s I was told the original one was destroyed by the IJA, and this one was a model.

Still, it was a unique and beautiful castle with Chinese influence, much more exotic looking than the mainland castles, which all look pretty much the same.

The cause is suspicious.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Damn, just left Okinawa a year or two ago, never went to see it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the government have said it will help with the cost of the rebuild. Does it have insurance?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I am no expert, but for it to have burned so hot, spread so fast, and burn for so long; I will be very surprised if it is ruled an accident instead of arson. I too am saddened by it loss, this is a place I very much have liked to visit on my next trip to Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a terrible loss for Okinawa. Various castle buildings have burned over the the long history. At lease 5 major fires and of course it was used as the Japanese Military headquarters in WWII and thus completely destroyed in the fighting. There were fire sprinklers on the outside but not mandated on the inside by the Japanese fire code for historical sites, since it was not an original building. (Are you kidding me?)

I really hope that Okinawa will turn this heartbreaking tragedy into a positive and humanistic rebuilding success. It would be great to see a prefecture wide fire safety education campaign that teaches adults and children about fire safety and brings smoke alarms into every home. Rebuilding the entire Shuri-jo complex will take a long dedicated effort but it must be done.

Already Okinawa Kenjinkai Clubs around the world are starting money raising efforts toward rebuilding.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

By the way the fire happened on World Uchinanchu Day, October 31, 2019. (Uchinanchu is the Okinawan Language word for People of Okinawa)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

presto345Oct. 31  03:11 pm JST ****I pray that the rebuild includes a fire sprinkler system

About that, I am surprised apparently there was no such system installed.

I was wondering about that. I've been in a half dozen or so castles and never noticed whether there were sprinklers. Mei-jo and Osaka-jo are structurally cement since being rebuilt after WWII. From the photo accompanying this article, it looks like the exterior walls at Shuri are concrete as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sad to see. Hope it's rebuilt.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What the...

OH COME ON!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What a shame. We visited just after its restoration and could feel the great pride of the Okinawan people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yes I see it was restored last year.

Do you understand the difference between "restored" and "repainted"?

It was repainted and that is the photo you saw on Kyodo. It was restored in 1992, not last year!

And it will be restored again, in probably another 20 years or so!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And it will be restored again, in probably another 20 years or so!

well it won’t even be rebuilt in 20 years even if they begin now.

The caption on the photo I viewed said “restored”.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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