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Shuri Castle

Shuri CastleMap of Naha city Shuri Castle is the castle of former Ryukyu Kingdom, and is on the hill located about 4 km east of central Naha city.

It is unknown that this castle was built, but the date of its construction is thought to be around the 14th century.
In 1429, Ryukyu Kingdom was established, and this castle had been the center of the kingdom until 1879.

After Okinawa became a prefecture in Japan, this castle had fallen into ruin.
It was repaired to designate as a national treasure in the early 1930s, but it was destroyed completely by the Battle of Okinawa (the ground battle of World War II) in 1945.

After the war, University of the Ryukyus was constructed on the site.
But restoring Shuri Castle was the strong desire of the Okinawa residents.
In 1958, Shureimon gate was restored first.
It was the main gate of this castle, and has also been the symbol of Okinawa.
The 2,000 yen bills bear the scenery of this gate.

After Okinawa was returned to Japan in 1972, Kankaimon gate and the castellated walls were restored.
And University of the Ryukyus was moved in 1979, and the main castle amd many other buildings were restored from 1989 to 1992.

In 2000, the ruin of Shuri castle was declared a World Heritage site, as one of Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.
(The restored constructions aren't included in the World Heritage site.)

Map of Shuri castle The site is about 400 meters from east to west and about 200 meters from north to south in width.
The constructions of the castle were strongly influenced by Chinese architecture.
The main color of the constructions is red, and the decorations of dragon are used as a symbol of the throne.

This castle hasn't the castle tower like Japanese castle. The central part has four main buildings surrounding a wide courtyard.
And in the site, there are many gates, a few "Utaki" (sacred place), and some other constructions.

Around the castle, there are many ruins and temples associated with Shuri Castle.

Shuri Castle official website

Sonohyan Utaki /1/

Sonohyan UtakiIt is a sacred place near Shureimon gate.
"Utaki" is the place where the gods of Ryukyu visit, and Sonohyan Utaki was the sacred place for the Ryukyu King.
The Utaki is a forest, and a stone gate (Ishimon) was built in 1519 in front of the forest.
The gate was destroyed by the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, but it was restored in 1957.

Tamaudun mausoleum /2/

TamaudunIt is the mausoleum of the kings and queens of Ryukyu Kingdom, and is located to the west of the castle.
The mousoleum was built in 1501 by Sho Shin (1465-1527, the 3rd king of the the Second Sho Dynasty) for his dead father.
It has three rooms.
The dead body was put in the central room for a long time. Then, when it became only its bones, they were washed and enshrined into the other rooms.
The three rooms were made of stone, and they are surrounded by stone fances. The inner courtyard is filled with pieces of coral.

Ryutan pond /3/

Ryutan It is a pond constructed in 1427 by Sho Hashi (1372-1439, the first king of Ryukyu), and is located to the north of Shuri Castle.
There are many trees around the pond, and Okinawa residents were allowed to relax in this park.
And the king treated envoys from China with the boating party on this pond.

Benzaitendo temple /4/

Benzaitendo It is a temple in the center of Enkanchi pond located to the southeast of Ryutan.
Enkanchi pond is an artificial pond constructed in 1502, and the rain water and spring water from Shuri Castle and Enkakuji flow into this pond.
Benzaitendo was built at the same time, but it was destroyed when Satsuma Domain in Kagoshima invaded in 1609.
And the restored temple was destroyed again by the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.
Current temple was restored in 1968.

Enkakuji temple /5/

Enkakuji It is a Buddist temple of Rinzai Zen sect, and is located just east of Benzaitendo.
It was built in 1494 after the model of Engakuji temple in Kamakura.
All buildings except Houjou Bridge were destroyed by the Battle of Okinawa.
And only the main gate was restored in 1968.

Suimuikan /6/

Suimuikan It is the visitor center of Shuri Castle, and is located near Shureimon gate.
It offers space for exhibits and relaxation, also it has a restaurant and shops.

Kinjo-cho Stone-paved Street /7/

Kinjocho Ishidatamimichi It is an old stone-paved street located about 0.3 km southwest of Shuri Castle.
The original road was constructed in the 16th century. It was the main road to the southwest.
The total length was about 10 km, but most of the road was destroyed by the Battle of Okinawa and only a part about 300 meters long remains.

Scenic or Nature / Park or Garden / Resort / City, Town or Village / Quarter or Street /
Temple or Shrine / Museum or Laboratory / Market or Commercial facility / Factory /
Other Building or Construction / Historic place / Remains / World Heritage Site

How to get to here

By monorail

  1. By monorail, to Shuri terminal station, about 12-15 minutes from central Naha area, about 27 minutes from Naha Airport.
  2. About 15 minutes walk to Shureimon gate.

By route bus

By route bus with route No.1 or 17, get off at Shurijo-koen iriguchi stop.




Distant view of Shuri Castle
Shureimon gate
Seiden (Main Palace) Throne in Seiden
Houshinmon gate and Hokuden Suimui Utaki in Shuri Castle
Kankaimon gate and castle wall Koufukumon gate
Sonohyan Utaki Tamaudun
Photo by Rettou-houmotsukan
Mausoleum of Tamaudun
Photo by Rettou-houmotsukan
Ryutan
Benzaitendo Ruin of Enkakuji
Suimuikan Kinjo-cho Stone-paved Street

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