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Okinawa | Shurijo Castle Park

Taking Photos in the Solemn Grounds of the Shurijo Castle

Perhaps one of the most famous locations in Okinawa, Shurijo Castle was the ancient seat of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Built up and in use as a royal residence and administrative center between the 15th and late 19th centuries, the winding walls, elaborate gates, and various traditional buildings give an aura of regal solemnity. During those days, certain members of the Ryukyuan nobility trained in a form of karate to protect the royal family. There is also a record of students training in karate in the castle courtyard from an old photograph. While the main palace building (Seiden) was lost in a fire last year, most of the current Shurijo Castle Park area is open to visitors. At the Shureimon Gate (“Gate of Propriety”), one of the representative gates leading to the castle, visitors have a chance to take a photo with the picturesque gate as the backdrop wearing a costume from the Ryukyu dynasty days (Ryuso) or a karate uniform (karate-gi) for a reasonable fee. For the latter, visitors can pose in front of a specially designed placard emblazoned with the phrase “The Birthplace of Karate: Okinawa, Japan.”

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