On July 15 2020 I visited Shuri Castle to see the progress with reconstruction.
As you approach the castle, nearly everything appears to be as it was before the fire. The Shureimon gate is intact, locals were praying at the Sonohyan-utaki, and the stone walls and archways of the Kankaimon gate all bore no evidence of the disaster. At the ticket booth in the Shichi-nu-una courtyard you can purchase a discounted entry ticket, but it only as you pass through the Houshimon ticket gate into the main courtyard you are hit with the vast change to the beloved castle.
Where the main Seiden once stood there is now a beige prefab building. Dozen of bags of rescued materials sit on the red and white stripes of the courtyard.
The two dairyuchu great dragon pillars that survived the fire now stand protected by scaffolding.
Lying on the courtyard are small piles of charred rubble, and the remains of the dragon heads that once crowned the castle roof.
You can now walk to the rear of the courtyard, and up on to the walls to a spot called Agari no azama. From there you can look back on the castle walls and structures.
The thick stone walls and the foundations of the castle remain. It can and will be rebuilt. As a tourist attraction it is still a fascinating place to explore, and well worth the visit.
I’m excited about the reconstruction of Shuri Castle. It gives the chance for a new generation of Okinawan craftsmen to learn the traditional skills needed to work on such as large prestigious project.
I look forward to the day when the great dragon pillars are released from their shackles, and the vermillion castle retakes its place as the heart of the Ryukyu Kingdom.