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Shortage of materials blight reconstruction of World Heritage site Shuri Castle in Okinawa after fire

TOKYO – One month after a fire broke out at Shuri Castle in Naha, the authorities are still conducting investigations to establish the cause of the blaze.

The central and prefectural governments are hoping for a swift reconstruction, but many problems are yet to be solved.

Seven buildings, including the main hall, at the castle – one of the most popular sightseeing sites in Okinawa Prefecture – were severely damaged in the fire, which broke out at around 2.40am local time on Oct 31.

At a press conference held last Friday (Nov 29) at the Okinawa prefectural government building, Mr Yoshikazu Shimabukuro, a senior official of a red roof tile manufacturing group in Okinawa Prefecture who was involved in the last restoration of Shuri Castle about 30 years ago, said: “By a rough calculation, we will need 2,000 tonnes of clay soil to make 500,000 tiles for the roofs (of the reconstructed buildings). The question is whether we can secure the raw materials.”

Red roof tiles are a symbol of Shuri Castle. According to the Okinawa Industrial Technology Centre, the tiles are made from Kogachi clay soil from Nago in the prefecture.

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