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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

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.

Tips

  • 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 9am-6pm seven days a week.

Quick Facts

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 castle are a hallmark of Okinawa, and very different from castles elsewhere in Japan

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.

To commemorate the 28th G8 summit, which was held in Okinawa, a 2000 yen note was specially printed, featuring a picture of Shurei-mon Gate. Incidentally, the word shurei is often confused with Shuri, but it is actually a Chinese word meaning "eternal courtesy".