Photo/IllutrationVisitors at the Hokuden north hall of Shuri-jo castle, damaged in the Oct. 31 fire in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, on Dec. 12 (Minako Yoshimoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

NAHA--Shuri-jo castle here Dec. 12 reopened some of the areas devastated by a fire in late October.

After confirming it was safe to enter, Shuri-jo Castle Park's operator lifted a ban on access to a 9.8-hectare area that had previously been open to the public for free prior to the Oct. 31 blaze.

The ticketed area deeper inside the park that housed the Seiden main hall remains off-limits, but visitors can get close to the Hoshinmon gate, which faces the hall and a square called “una,” and other buildings. The gate was also partially damaged by the fire.

The foundations of the original castle, which was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, are designated as a World Heritage site.

Students on school trips and sightseers were seen snapping photos of the gutted buildings revered by Okinawans as a symbol of their identity, culture and history.

Since the fire engulfed the iconic castle, the park's operator had restricted access to part of the grounds and only opened a 7.2-hectare area to the public.