Demolition has started on an abandoned hotel and local eyesore adjacent to Okinawa’s Nakagusuku Castle that has been sitting idle for almost five decades. In a rare move for privately-owned property, the prefecture has taken charge of demolition due to the need for a careful investigation for any historic artifacts and to avoid harm to protected wildlife. Demolition is expected to be completed by March 2020, after which the land will be converted back to parkland.
The Nakagusuku Hotel was the brainchild of successful, local businessman and politician Hajime Takara (1907-1994). Takara had been entrusted to manage Nakagusuku Park while Okinawa was still under US control. A zoo with giraffes and elephants was built, along with a Coney Island-type amusement park. The park would return to the management of the prefecture upon Okinawa’s return to the Japanese government in the 1970s, with the condition that Takara would be allowed to develop a hotel within the park.
Construction began in the early 1970s, but stalled in 1975 due to the bankruptcy of the contractor. Issues were further compounded by road access with the only entrance road being designated as a cultural property protection district.
The incomplete hotel includes a 5-story reinforced concrete tower and 17 cottages, with a total building area of 11,000 sqm. Total demolition costs are expected to be around 205 million Yen (approx. 1.9 million USD).
The hotel adjoins the UNESCO-listed Nakagusuku Castle ruins. The castle dates back to the 1400s.
Source: The Okinawa Times, May 16, 2019.