Okinawan castles – memory of the Ryukyu Kingdom-

About Okinawa

Okinawa Prefecture locates at the southernmost prefecture of Japan which comprises of 160 islands in a chain over 1,000 kilometers long, and has subtropical climate. Its population is 1,434,138.

From the 15th to the 19th century Okinawa existed as an entirely separate country from Japan, known as the Ryukyu Kingdom until the islands were invaded by Japan. Many castle were built in this period. 300 castles and castle remain till now and these are called “gusuku” in the Okinawan language. In 2000, five castles and four related sites were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, under the group name of “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu”.

Let’s have a look at Okinawan gusuku which are made from coral limestones. This gives different apperence from Japanese castles, whch are made from paper and woods.

Katsuren Castle Remains

The Katsuren Castle Ruins locates at a steep hill in the central part of Okinawa islannd. From the top of the castle you can see Nakagusuku bay and the Katsuren Peninsula.

Katsuren catsle



 Nakagusuku castle Remains

Located at a height of 160 m above sea level, in the central part of Okinawa island, you can see a scattering of small islands expanding in East China Sea and in the Pacific Ocean.

Among the remains of castles, the structure of a castle are best preserved at Nakagusuku castle It has six courtyards,and you can see three different types of stone works.


Nakagusuku castle and sago palms


Nakijin Castle Remains

Nakijin Castle Remains are located at Motobu peninsula, which is a northern part of Okinawa island. It played important role of protecting Yanbaru area in the past. Located at a height of 100 m above sea level, it offers view of the East China Sea.

Nakijin castle and easter lily


Shurijo Castle

Shuri castle is located at Naha which is a capital of Okinawa. It was almost totally destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, and then in 1992 it was rebuilt. It is the only castle which was restored as before.

Cited :


These Okinawan gusukus have historical and cultural values. The stone works of Castle Remains in harmony with subtropical nature are beautiful. The view of the castles changes with season as early February is good for cherry blossom and from the end of April to May you can enjoy easter lily.

It is also recommended to check events before you visit. Sometime there are light up events, projection events, festivals and shows are taking place.

Enjoy a view and imagine what historical leaders and people of hundreds years ago might thought.