National

Huts burn down near World Heritage-listed thatched farmhouses of Shirakawa-go

Kyodo

Two huts were destroyed by fire Monday near the traditional thatched farmhouses of Shirakawa-go village in Gifu Prefecture, which are registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, Gifu Prefectural Police said.

The police received an emergency call from a local resident at around 2:40 p.m. The fire was extinguished after about two hours and no injuries were reported, they said.

The police have opened an investigation into the cause of the fire. The huts were located in a parking lot roughly 400 meters from the village center. Many tourists were in the parking lot at the time of the fire.

To keep the fire from spreading to the farmhouses, local residents used 59 water dischargers installed in the village to spray water on the thatched roofs.

The Shirakawa Municipal Government had been asking residents to be on the alert following the fire last week that destroyed Shuri Castle in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture.

An annual drill using the water dischargers was held at the village Oct. 27.

“I saw the huts burning when I went outside. I was really scared because this was right after the fire at Shuri Castle,” said a woman who works at a nearby restaurant.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5