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Prefecture declares war as termites eat at Shurei-no-Mon

Date Posted: 2003-05-10

The best-known symbol of Okinawa, the Shurei-no-Mon gate at Shuri Castle, has been discovered to be under a severe attack by termites. Officials at the Okinawa Prefecture Education and Cultural Section say they discovered that the bugs have eaten four of the pillars that support the famous gate, which is also featured on a 2,000 bank note.

Officials say they don't know the exact extent of the damage. The original gate was built about 500 years ago, and was restored in 1958. It is covered with a special traditional lacquer-like paint that was supposed to prevent bugs from getting inside the wood. However, officials say that they discovered that there had been a small spot on the gate that was not covered with the paint, and that is where the bugs apparently got in.

Officials say they are surprised that the termites got into the gate. "Our experts said that termites would not be a problem, but now they are. That's very confusing," an official at the prefecture office said.

An exterminator expert disagreed. "Where there s wood, the termites will find their way in. The lacquer painting prevents them to get in, but if there is a spot without the coating, they will get in. The prefecture staff should have checked carefully, and they could have found the spot where the bugs got in. Now there are probably billions of them inside the gate, and it's nearly impossible to get rid of them." Prefecture officials say that they will decide what to do about the problem after the Golden Week holidays are over.

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