Digitally Reconstructing Shurijo Castle

After a fire destroyed Shurijo Castle, 3,000 people sent their photos and memories to a project that used them to digitally reconstruct the building

By Okinawa Prefecture

OUR Shurijo: Shurijo Castle Digital Reconstruction

The large dragon pillars after the fireOriginal Source: Shurijo Castle Park

Shurijo Castle was destroyed by a fire

On Oct. 31st 2019, a fire destroyed all the main structures of Shurijo Castle, a Unesco World Heritage site on Japan's southern island of Okinawa, and an icon of the history and culture of Ryukyu Kingdom.

OUR Shurijo: Shuri Castle Digital Reconstruction ProjectOkinawa Prefecture

After the fire, researchers released a website to collect photos of Shurijo Castle from people all around the world to digitally reconstruct the castle in a 3D model for future generations.  

Shuri Castle Park with full of memoriesOkinawa Prefecture

A collection of brilliant moments

The project also aimed to collect photos of its lively moments in Shurijo Castle, so that people can enjoy the memories later.

Shuri Castle Park with more memoriesOkinawa Prefecture

3,000 people, 80,000 images

In response to the call, people shared their photographs with the project, along with their memories and messages.   

3D point cloud reconstructed from the collected photographsOkinawa Prefecture

The Main Hall reconstructed from people's memories

2,128 images were matched and used for reconstruction.

Each square pyramid represents the location of each camera.     

Seiden (Main Hall) reconstrcuted with 2000 photographsOkinawa Prefecture

The final model released on Dec. 23, 2019

Images taken by different photographers at different times recovered the 3D structure, as if their memories were really "connected" to each other.      

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This is the released 3D model that can be viewed interactively

3D model of Shurijo ThroneOkinawa Prefecture

Reconstructed throne lost by the fire

The second floor of the Main Hall (Seiden) is called the Ufugui and at the center is where the King’s throne was placed, on a platform similar to that of Shumidan Buddhist altars.

3D model of Shurijo King's CrownOkinawa Prefecture

Reconstructed Ryukyu King's Crown (replica)

Known as the Hibenkan or Taman Chabui, the crown was worn by the King in formal ceremonies. It was also placed on the second floor of the Main Hall. 

Seiden (Main Hall)Original Source: Shurijo Castle Park

Personal memories

Visitors shared their personal memories of the castle to help build the project

A memory shared by a Japanese woman in her twentiesOkinawa Prefecture

International student visits

I participated in a peace seminar where students from China, Taiwan, Germany, and Japan gathered to reflect on history and exchange ideas for peace. Through visiting various places and interacting with local people, we learned the importance of talking directly with others regardless of their historical background, respecting them even if you don't understand what they say, and reaching out to them when they need help. We took this picture at the end of the seminar when we all went sightseeing and gained important insights.    

A memory shared by a female teenagerOkinawa Prefecture

Student guide at the castle

I have been guiding students on school trips to Okinawa from outside the prefecture since I was in the first year of junior high school, and I have been able to meet so many people at Shurijo Castle. The time I spent at Shurijo Castle is filled with memories that cannot be described in one word. Although I am still a student, I can proudly say that no matter how old I get, Shurijo was always a part of my development as a junior and senior high school student. 

A memory shared by a family from OsakaOkinawa Prefecture

100th castle visit

Every holiday since 2018, my family has been traveling to the 100 greatest castles in Japan, and in April 2019, at the end of the Heisei era, we visited Shurijo Castle to conclude our trip. At Shurijo Castle, we celebrated by breaking the mini kusudama that we had brought with us, and the people around us applauded us, making it a wonderful memory.  

A memory shared by a Hawaiian manOkinawa Prefecture

Participating in the traditional festival from abroad

I visited Shurijo Castle during the 2011 Uchinanchu Taikai Festival. It was my first visit to Okinawa. Shurijo castle was such a beautiful and vibrant castle. During my visit there a wonderful performance and display of karate and dance was held. The festivities gave me a more historical perspective of the culture and the importance of what the castle represented. I've been to Japan 17 times and have been to many castles, shrines and temples. Not only do these incredible architectural landmarks have historical significance, but are places where people worship, celebrate and have remembrance. A place of gathering. Shurijo Castle I feel specifically is the heart and gem of Okinawa.   

Mosaic of Shuri Casle made by the collected photographsOkinawa Prefecture

This image shows the photomosaic generated from all of the collected photos.

We are dreaming of the day we can see the restored Shurijo Castle again.  

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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