Naha, Okinawa Pref. – Parts of Shuri Castle in Okinawa Prefecture will be reopened to the public for the first time Friday since a major fire last October.
Visitors will be able to enter the castle’s paid admission area through the Hoshinmon gate, which roughly translates as “gate to respect the gods,” and enter the Seiden main hall, which was among the structures burned down.
Also reopening is a section of the Seiden where visitors can see the underground ruins of the original castle structure, a UNESCO World Heritage site, through a glass cover.
Visitors will be able to see restoration work ongoing in other parts of the castle complex from the Agari-no Azana observation deck located behind the Seiden.
“I want people around the nation to see the castle, and hope to gain their cooperation for reconstruction efforts,” said an official at the Cabinet Office’s Okinawa General Bureau as the castle was shown to the media Thursday ahead of the public opening.
Shuri Castle was the center of politics, foreign affairs and culture in the Ryukyu Kingdom from 1429 until Okinawa Prefecture was established in 1879.
It has burned down several times, including during World War II, and the castle ruins, excluding restored buildings, were registered as a World Heritage site in 2000.
The key buildings of the castle, which had been restored in 1992, were destroyed in a fire on Oct. 31, 2019, which is suspected to have been caused by an electrical fault.
The government aims to restore the symbolic buildings by 2026 after embarking on reconstruction at full pace in 2022.
The paid admission area was initially scheduled to be opened to the public from late April, but the timing was pushed back to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.