In October, the catastrophic fire at the Unesco World Heritage Site of Shuri Castle left citizens of Japanese Okinawa stunned. A million photos from different individual and architecture firms are being looked for in order to build a successful restoration. The person from the academic to the government officials and students, some of whom could not return to their classes until they absorbed the losses, suffered the aftershocks of this devastation.

Rei Kawakami, a University of Tokyo computer vision expert, has now led a team of volunteers to restore the castle through an interactive 3D model. The main hall, the crown display and the trunk room have been modeled by the group.

“I went to Castle Shuri and I knew that it was part of life for the Okinawans,” Kawakami told Kyodo News Reito Kaneko. “I’ve got kids and I thought that it’s daunting if the kids witnessed it. I can’t bear anything. “I could not bear.

The Castle of Shuri was once the capitol, which until its unification with Japan in 1879 was an autonomous island nation. The castle was built in a distinctive architectural style more than 500 years ago, which combined traditional Chinese and Japanese styles to show the scale of the Kingdom’s business with China.

Over the ages, Castle Shuri has been demolished and rebuilt many times. The latest damage in the battle of Okinawa dated back to 1945 before the eruption. After the scirmish, the heritage was restored to include an architectural façade of Okinawan and a new museum inside the castle walls.

Probably due to an electrical fault, the October fire destroyed many of the artefacts stored or displayed in the seven wooden buildings affected by the blaze. While government officials have pledged everything they need to reinstate the castle, Kawakami hopes that our Shurijo digital reconstruction will keep the site alive in the meantime.
“In the Okinawa digital castle, high school students could be taught and visitors drawn before the Castle was reconstructed,” Kawakami explains to Kaneko.

To do this, they will take photographs–in total, 1 million from every side capturing the castle. More than 2.836 people submitted 30.000 pictures since Our Shurijo launch on November 9. Every Monday the group plans to share updated Twitter submission statistics.

The project is not only a visual reconstruction of the house. When contributors provide an image, they are asked to describe themselves and their memories and messages with virtual visitors. To date, approximately 40% of the entries are from outside Japan.

Kawakami tells Kaneko, “I learned that it would take time to rebuild the castle.” I hope that our venture would inspire and empower local people.