“Gusuku”, the Okinawan castles, looks totally different from other Japanese castles outside of Okinawa. “Gusuku” is known as Okinawan castles but it generally means “fortresses” in Rykyu Kingdom which was a kingdom in the Ryukyu Islands from 1429 to 1879. That’s the reason why everything includes looking, structure, history and culture is completely different from other Japanese castles. There are approximately 200 gusukus still remaining. The greatest feature of gusuku is unique stone walls and its advanced technology of the structure is often compared to buildings in Machu Pichu. Now only stone wall part of each gusuku remaining but gusuku has exotic fascination!

 

 

 

A symbol of Okinawa was tragically lost in fire “Shuri Gusuku (Shuri-jo ato)” (Naha City)

 

It is estimated to have been constructed approximately in the end of the 14 century and the ruins is located on a hill nearby Naha Port. It used to be designated as a national treasures before the WW2 but the buildings were destroyed by the war and construction of Ryukyu University and only walls and some parts of the buildings remained. Shuri Gusuku had a history of many destructions and reconstructions and finally in 1992, most of the buildings were back and Shuri-jo Park was opened. In 2000, “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu” was registered under UNESCO World Heritage Site and became a symbol of Okinawa. However, it was burnt down and lost because of an unknown fire. It was such a tragedy for all Japanese people not only citizens of Okinawa. We all hope the Gusuku will be reconstruction again to be a place shows us culture of Ryukyu Kingdom.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

1-2, Kinjo-cho, Shuri, Naha city, Okinawa prefecture

15 min walk or 5 min bus ride from Shuri station

Official Okinawa Travel Guide VISIT OKINAWA “Shurijo Castle Park”

 

 

 

A castle of a king who was successful in trade“Katsuren Gusuku Katsuren-jo)” (Uruma city)

 

Katsuren Gusuku once existed at a hill in Katsuren peninsula which is located in the east of Okinawa main island, was a part of  “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu” was registered under UNESCO World Heritage Site. 10th castle owner Amawari developed economy and military forces with transit trade by using the characteristic of the location. Majestic spectacle views can be seen from the 98 meter-high the highest peak of the gusuku. Also, the gusuku is known as a valuable historic site for researching ancient ruins.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

3908 Haebaru, Katsuren, Uruma city, Okinawa prefecture

An hour and 30 min bus ride from Naha Bus Terminal

 

 

 

The great view Gusuku having the oldest arch type gate “Zakimi Gusuku (Zakimi-jo)” (Yomitan-son)

 

Zakimi Gusuku was built by Gosamaru, a guy who was known as a great castle architect in early 15 century, which was registered under UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gosamaru is a historically very important and famous person as a guy who built the Zakimi Gusuku with the beautiful curves of stone walls and arch in Okinawa. The gusuku is also known as a valuable historic site where a lot of made-in-Japan old stone roof tiles and more were unearthed. Also, the view from the top of the Gusuku is amazing with emerald green ocean, blue sky and fantastic sunset which can be enjoy only in Okinawa!

 

 

【INFORMATION】

708-6 Zakimi, Yomitan Village, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa prefecture

Approx. an hour and 15 min bus ride from Naha bus terminal and 15 min walk from the closest bus stop.

VISIT OKINAWA JAPAN ” Zakimi Jo Site / Zakimi Castle Remains”

 

 

 

The World Heritage where the dynamic scenery can be seen “Nakijin Gusuku (Nakijin-jo)(Nakijin Village)

 

The Gusuku is said that had existed there before the Ryukyu Kingdom was born in 14 century, where was a residence of Hokuzan. It’s located on a 100 meter-high mountain where has a great view from the top. One of the main attraction is the  1.5 kilometer-long

massive stone walls which had a high protective function because of the curves like a python. It’s the largest gusuku in Okinawa and is designated as a national historic site and counted as one of the 100 best castles in Japan. The breathtaking view from the top of the gusuku especially a part of the building called “Uushimi” can’t be missed!

 

 

【INFORMTION】

5101 Imadomari, Nakijin Village, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa prefecture

Approx. 2 hour and 45 bus ride from Naha Airport.

VISIT OKINAWA JAPAN ” Nakijin Jo Site / Nakijin Castle Ruins”

 

 

 

Commodore Perry got amazed for the high-tech architecture “Nakagusuku-jo” (Nakagusuku Village)

 

When Commodore Perry visited Nakagusuku-jo, he was amazed for the details, curved walls, structures and everything of the high-tech architecture of the castle. Yes, it is one of Gosamaru’s works, who had built Zakimi Gusuku. Nakagusuku-jo is such a valuable castle ruins didn’t get destroyed much by Okinawa War and still exists as it originally was mostly.

The instagrammable view of the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea from the gusuku is absolutely a must-see!

 

 

【INFORMATION】

503 Oogusuku, Kitanakagusuku Village, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa prefecture

10 min drive from Kita Nakagusuku IC

VISIT OKINAWA JAPAN ” Nakagusuku Jo Site / Nakagusuku Castle Remains”

 

 

 

A mysterious old castle ruins in the forest “Agena Gusuku (Agena-jo)” (Uruma City)

 

Agena Gusuku is surrounded by trees. It is mysterious like a hidden ancient remains in jungle. The gusuku took advantage of the natural terrain, was built with a way of piling up stones called “Nozura-zumi”. The size and shape of every stone is uneven but the walls are built perfectly.  Agena Gusuku is designated as a national historic site, is popular even for manias.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

Kamekobaru, Agena, Uruma City, Okinawa Prefecture

Approx. an hour and 20 min bus ride from Naha Bus Terminal

 

 

 

6 meter-high castle walls still exists “Itokazu Gusuku (Itokazu-jo)” (Nanjo City)

 

Itokazu Gusuku looks very tough because of the 6 meter-high huge stone walls built with ways of piling up stones called “Nozura-zumi” and “Kiriishi-zumi”. The gusuku is designated as a national historic sites, has a great view with the Pacific Ocean, the East China Sea and Kearama Islands can be seen. It is the largest gusuku of gusukus in southern part of main land of Okinawa, is popular scenic place where the dynamic walls and natural sceneries around.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

Itokazu, Tamagusuku, Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture

15 minutes by a monorail train from Naha Airport

Nanjo City Official Website “Itokazu Castle Ruins and Neishi Gusuku”

 

 

 

A photogenic scenic spot “Gushikawa Gusuku (Gushikawa-jo)” (Itoman City)

© okinawa convention bureau

Gushikawa Gusuku is such a valuable gusuku as a historic site and the excavation is still ongoing. The gusuku is assumed to have been active in approximately from 12 century to 15 century, from excavated Chinese ceramic wares. It is a popular scenic place with beautiful sky and oceans from the top of the castle ruins built on precipitous cliffs.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

1730-1 Kyan, Itoman City, Okinawa Prefecture

40 min-drive from Naha Airport

Itoman City Official Websie “The ruins of Gushikawa-jo Castle”

 

 

 

A historically valuable gusuku where the gusuku period of Kumejima Island can be seen “Uegusuku Gusuku (Uegusuku-jo) (Kumejima Town)

© okinawa convention bureau

Uegusuku Gusuku is located on the highest mountain in Kumejima Island called Mt. Uegusukudake which is 310 meter-high, where the whole island can be seen from the top. It’s the highest located gusuku in Okinawa having the greatest view. Since many Chinese ceramic wares were excavated, it is assumed that the trading with China happened before the Ryukyu Kingdom period. Uegusuku is a must-see place when visiting Kumejima Island.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

2063 Uegusuku, Kumejima town, Shimajiri district, Okinawa prefecture

30 min-drive from Kumejima Airport

 

 

“Chinen Gusuku” the spiritual gusuku consisted with new gusuku and old gusuku (Nanjo City )

 

“Mi-gusuku (new gusuku)” and “Ku-gusuku (old gusuku)” are contiguous. It is located on 80 meter-high hill and the new gusuku was renovated but the old one in the forest can’t be entered. However the atmosphere is mysterious and spiritual like different world.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

Chinen, Chinen-aza, Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture

15 minutes by a monorail train from Naha Airport

Nanjo City Official Website “Chinen Castle Ruins”

 

 

 

Destroyed during the WW2 “Urasoe Gusuku (Urasoe-jo)” (Urazoe City)

 

It is said that the gusuku had built before Shuri Gusuku, which was built by principality of Chuzan. The buildings worked as a fort during the WW2 and was destroyed mostly. However, it is popular place to see the reconstructed beautiful castle remains with the old battle remains. A place in the ruins called “Urasoe Youdore(youdore means “no wind” in the language of ryukyu Kingdom)” is the must-see place where is a room to pray for the King to rest in peace.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

Nakama, Urazoe City, Okinawa Prefecture

5 minutes by a monorail train from Naha Airport

Nanjo City Official Website “The Ruins of Tamagusuku”

 

 

 

Wonderful view from the castle in the sky! “Tamagusuku Gusuku (Tamagusuku-jo)” (Nanjo- City)

 

The gusuku is called “Castle in the sky” because of the location where is on a 180 meter-high where the wonderful view can be seen. Morning light from a hole of the castle gate light interior is such a mysterious view. It is also known as the last place of traditional Ryukyu Kingdom pilgrimage called “Agari-Umai”. Especially the scenery from the castle gate on the stairs is a superb view!

 

 

【INFORMATION】

443-2、444 Tamagusuku, Tamagusuku-aza, Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture

15 minutes by a monorail train from Naha Airport

 

 

 

Why don’t you stop by when visiting Naha City? “Mie Gusuku” (Naha City)

© okinawa convention bureau

Mie Gusuku is located near the entrance of Naha port, had been built as a fort to protect the port. It’s been beloved by locals as a place to see off and welcome people for wishing safe sailing. The gusuku ruins are such a photogenic place like floating on emerald green ocean which is one of the best scenic spot in Naha City. This gusuku ruins is absolutely a must-see place when visiting Naha City.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

Around 3-2-35 Nishi, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture

10 min taxi ride from Naha Airport

 

 

 

Famous for banyan trees! “Nanzan Gusuku” (Itoman City)

 

The gusuku was built in 4 century by a King of Nanzan Ufusatto, is known as an interesting historic site where many unique things were excavated such as chinese ceramic wares, glass Magatama (comma-shaped beads), Bizen wares and more. A part of the ruins is currently an elementary school and another part is Nanzan Shrine and the castle walls remain. The many banyan trees in the ruins are famous is selected as one of Best tree in Okinawa.

 

 

【INFORMATION】

1901 Osato, Itoman City, Okinawa Prefecture

40 min-drive from Naha Airport

 

 

Why don’t you visit Okinawan Gusukus to feel different romantic history in Okinawa?