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400 artifacts, ancient docs at Okinawa's Shuri Castle destroyed in fire

The inside of Shuri Castle complex that was consumed by a fire is seen in the Okinawa Prefecture capital of Naha on Nov. 2, 2019. (Mainichi)

NAHA -- About 400 artifacts and ancient documents stored at Shuri Castle were destroyed in the fire that swept through key buildings at the World Heritage complex early on Oct. 31, the foundation that manages the castle told reporters Nov. 1.

According to the Okinawa Churashima Foundation, some 1,500 artifacts and documents, including paintings, lacquerware, ancient writings and dyed fabrics, were kept at the castle. About 400 of them, including documents relating to the Sho family that ruled the Ryukyu Kingdom were kept at the Seiden main hall that burned down.

The remaining items are kept in two fireproof archives. However, the archives area remains hot and its fireproof doors were warped in the blaze and still cannot be opened, meaning the archive items' condition is unknown.

Although none of the 1,500 total items has been designated as national treasure or important cultural property, they include those that were not lost during the Battle of Okinawa toward the end of World War II and collected after the war.

Okinawa Churashima Foundation Chairman Yoshihiro Hanashiro expressed hope that the remaining 1,100 artifacts and ancient documents remain intact.

"These items include some 200-300 years old. I hope they are preserved," he told the news conference.


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