Shuri Castle in Okinawa

Okinawa Things to See

Okinawa, Japan Jul. 23 Tues 2:10AM

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Splendor of the Ryukyu Kingdom

*Unfortunately as of 10/30/2019 Shuri Castle caught on fire and the main building has burned down. Reconstruction is set as of currently to be finished by 2026. Visitors can still visit other parts that are open and also observe the reconstruction process. 

Today, Shuri is the name of a district of Okinawa, but it was the former capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Shuri Castle, or Shurijo, was the residence of the Ryukyu Kings until Okinawa became a Japanese prefecture in the 19th century. The Castles of the Ryukyu Kingdom, including Shuri Castle, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Originally built in the 14th century, the castle was the cultural and political center of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Like the rest of the Ryukyu Castles, however, Shuri Castle was destroyed multiple times throughout the century in battle. Its most recent destruction was during World War II during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The castle was restored to its original beauty in 1992. 

Seiden and Una Plaza

Shuri Castle's Main Hall in Okinawa

The approach up to the castle is a 15 minute or so hike, and there are great views of Naha from the hill. The castle is surrounded by walls and multiple gates, the most famous being the Shureimon Gate. On the top of the hill is the castle's main hall, the Seiden. It is the most intricately decorated building at Shuri Castle and a landmark of Okinawa. The red color especially sets it apart from other castles on the Japanese mainland. In front of the Seiden is Una Plaza, which was used for ceremonies. Also of note are the Hokuden (North Hall) and the Nanden (South Hall) which served as administrative quarters. 

The Walls of Shuri Castle

The walls of Shuri Castle in Okinawa

The interior of the castle buildings can be explored by visitors, and the path is dotted with historical exhibits and displays describing the Ryukyu Kingdom and its interactions with China and Japan. The inside of the North and South Halls have been reconstructed like museums, but the Seiden was rebuilt in its original style, allowing visitors to Shuri Castle to really experience what it would have been like inside for the Ryukyu Kingdom. 

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