Okinawa's Shuri Castle holds safety ritual as restoration continues after fire

A traditional ceremony has been held to pray for safety for the ongoing reconstruction of Shuri Castle in Okinawa, southern Japan. The main hall and other buildings were destroyed in a blaze in 2019.

About 80 people, including carpenters, took part in the ritual on Monday after part of the roof was completed.

The participants checked the direction and position of the main hall, and lifted a ridge beam with a rope.

They chanted prayers as the timber was knocked into place with a hammer.

Master carpenter Kondo Katsuaki said he is happy to mark a turning point in the restoration of the building.

Okumura Koji, who oversaw the roof work, said the restoration of the castle will take two-and-a-half more years, and he is determined to keep moving forward.

The installation of the roof tiles is expected to begin this summer.

Carpenters completed the framework of the main hall at the end of last year. The rebuilding of the main hall is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2026.

The original Shuri Castle was built about 500 years ago. It was destroyed during World War Two. The main hall and other buildings were reconstructed decades later. In 2000, the ruins of the original castle were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.