Shuri Castle 首里城
A red castle that ruled a long-lost kingdom
When you wander among the majestic buildings that make up Shuri Castle in Okinawa , you might feel as if you have been transported deep into the past. However, these lovingly restored buildings are only decades old.
Nonetheless, they are steeped in history, and many features of the castle are older than the recent renovations. There is much to see in and around the castle complex, from grand architecture to the exhibits inside the museums.
- Shurei-mon Gate, built by King Sho Sei in the early 16th century
- Sonohyan Utaki Ishimon, a stone gate entrance to the sacred grove where prayers for a safe journey were given whenever the king left the castle
- Kinjocho Ishidatamimichi, a beautiful stone pathway that leads through a grove of trees said to be more than 300 years old
- Discover the art of creating bingata, ryusen, and other handmade Okinawan textiles at Shuri Ryusen, a few minutes' walk from Shuri Castle
How to Get There
Shuri Castle is a five-minute bus ride (or a 15-20-minute walk) from Shuri Station on the Okinawa Monorail.
It can also be reached by bus from central Naha. Take the number one bus and get off at Shurijo Koen Iriguchi.
Shuri Ryusen is a short walk from Shuri Castle, on Shuriyamagawacho, and is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
Shuri was the capital of Okinawa until the 1870s. It is now part of Naha, the new capital
Shuri Castle is one of four castles designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites
The striking red tiles of the palace are a hallmark of Okinawa, and very different from castles elsewhere in Japan
On October 31 2019, a fire completely destroyed most of the main castle structures. The castle is temporarily closed to visitors.
Rising from the ashes
The castle was built in the 13th century by Shunbajunki, the second king of Chuzan, and it was to play a key part in many of the struggles in the centuries that followed.
Shuri Castle has been destroyed many times over the centuries, each time rising again from the ashes. Most recently, the castle was bombed in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and the castle you see before you today was reconstructed in 1992.
The castle stands on top of a hill, providing a commanding view of Naha . The interior of the main building has been restored in its original style, while the North and South Halls have modern museums inside. Check out the exhibits, which bring to life the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
The King's Gate
Don't miss out on a visit to Shurei-mon Gate , originally built in the early 16th century by King Sho Sei. It was used for ceremonial entrances to the castle, and you can't help but feel regal as you walk beneath the seven-meter high red-tiled roof. The gate, like the castle, has been destroyed many times and was last rebuilt in 1958.