Fire drill held 3 years after Shuri Castle blaze

Jiji Press
Firefighters release water during a drill at the Shuri Castle Park on Monday.

NAHA (Jiji Press) — Three years have passed since a massive fire hit Okinawa Prefecture’s Shuri Castle, and the work to rebuild the castle’s Seiden main building is set to come into full swing, with its groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for Thursday.

The new Seiden building, which will introduce the latest fire prevention equipment, is planned to be completed in autumn 2026.

By making public the process of rebuilding the landmark castle in Naha, Okinawa, the central and Okinawa governments are hoping to help revitalize tourism in the southernmost Japan prefecture, which was seriously damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. An observation deck that offers a view of the construction site will be set up.

Ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony, lumber to be used in the Seiden building left the village of Kunigami in northern Okinawa, where it was produced. Many people gathered to see a parade that was held when the lumber was transported.

The work to rebuild the Seiden building, which was completely destroyed by the fire, will be led by the central government.

According to the Cabinet Office, the rebuilding costs will total around ¥12 billion, far exceeding some ¥3.3 billion spent to construct the previous building during the 1989-2019 Heisei era. The increase reflects expenses to reinforce fire prevention measures and higher lumber procurement costs.

Donations that have been given to the Okinawa prefectural government and others for the reconstruction of Shuri Castle since immediately after the fire hit the UNESCO World Heritage site on Oct. 31, 2019, reached some ¥5.6 billion as of the end of September. The prefectural government plans to use the donations to procure lumber for the Seiden building, to produce about 55,000 red tiles and to restore sculptured works that were damaged by the fire.