首里城公園（首里城） Shurijo Castle
- Palace / Castles
- Travelko Rating
- Closed1st Wednesday of July and the next day
Maps are rarely carried out with accessing from mainland China.
- 1-2 Kinjo-cho, Shuri Naha-shi, Okinawa 903-0815, Japan
- Palace / Castles
- Opening Hours
- See website for details
- 1st Wednesday of July and the next day
The Symbol of Ryukyu Kingdom and a World Heritage Site
The biggest castle in Okinawa is a must-see place if you like to feel the spirits and the history of Ryukyu Kingdom which ruled Ryukyu Islands and flourished by trading with south-east Asian counties, China, Korea, and Japan for about 450 years from 1429 until Ryukyu became a part of Japan as Okinawa in 1879.
The castle is one of the nine sites on Okinawa which UNESCO registered as “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu” in 2000 for its uniqueness. The castle was the center of politics, diplomacy, and culture of the kingdom, and total 27 kings lived there, but the exact established year is unknown. In this castle, you will find the uniqueness and the hybrid of cultures in its architectural styles, political and religious structures, dances (free performance available, see below), kimono, and art crafts. You need about two hours to explore and see everything in Shurijo Castle Park.
Address: 1-2 Kinjo-cho, Naha City (Zip 903-0815)
Tel: (098)886-2020 (Shurijo Park Administrative Office)
Admission: 800 JPY to enter the main part of the park
Hours: 0800~1830 (Dec~Mar), 0800~1930 (Apr~Jun, Oct~Nov), 0800~2030 (Jul~Sep)
Please check on the home page for details
Note: Before you come to a ticket counter, you will pass some gates. So, it’s recommended to ask for English map at the counter of Visitor’s Lobby, located on an upper floor of the underground parking. For ones who need to see efficiently, the following is for your info.
Free dance performance: Three times (1100~, 1400~, 1600~) a day on every Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun for about a half hour at Keizuza and Youmotsuza, located near a ticket counter.
1. Shureimon Gate
It is located before pay point. The beautiful and elegant red gate is the symbol of the castle and functioned just like Otemon in Tokyo on the end of the main street in front of the castle. The name came from the calligraphy, “Shurei-no-kuni”, meaning “Country which values courtesy, preserves the proper relationship with Shin Dynasty.” It is printed on 2000 Japanese yen bills to commemorate Okinawa Summit in 2000, which was an idea of the then PM Obuchi. The basic structure is based on Chinese architecture style, but the two layered red tile roof is Okinawan style.
2. Seiden (main building)
It is located after ticket counter. The three-floor building is called Seiden, the main building. Chinese castle architecture styles and Japanese architecture styles are basically applied with some unique Okinawan designs as well.
On the second floor, where it was used as private space, you will see decorative interior, a king’s chair, calligraphies presented by Chinese Emperors, and lots of the dragons with only four fingers.
3. Original foundation structure (1st floor of Seiden)
There is a part of original foundation of the castle, which you can see through a glass floor.
1. Shureimon Gate
2. Stairs in front of Zuisenmon
3. Una (front yard) in front of Seiden
4. The beautiful curved castle wall
1. Tomoya (view of North and East)
2. Iri-no-Aza (view of South and West, including Naha Port direction and Tokashiki Islands)
1. Suimuikan (park, restaurant and café, located in no-fee area, before Shureimon)
2. Sasunoma (café to experience the dynasty era, located in fee area)
Personally I like the view of Una (front yard) from the 2nd floor of the castle, where you feel like you were a king, and the view from Iri-no-Azana, where you can just imagine what the ancient Ryukyuan would see from here in the past, such as envoy and trading ships, Commodore Perry’s ship, surrounding towns beneath the castle, sake factories, and farms, etc.
Search for the squirrels in the Shuri castle
A UNESCO world heritage site, the Shuri Castle is the most popular sightseeing spot in Okinawa.
It is a very popular tourist attraction and many Okinawa travel guidebooks feature the Shuri Castle. Since many guides already cover the basic information of this castle, I would like to focus on some interesting features of the castle.
On the second floor of the Shuri Castle main hall, there is the king’s throne. The first thing you will notice is the golden dragon sculptures but if you look closely at the relief around the chair, you will find something more interesting. The reliefs around the chair depict squirrels and grapes. These are not typical from Okinawa but come from China's influence. The squirrels and grapes express fertility, and in this case, they show the hope of the kingdom to continue forever. The lavishness of the chair and the adorable motif of squirrels seem ironic at first, but the meaning behind the motif connects the two.
Another interesting feature is the Susanoma. Many people don’t notice this room since there is a fee to enter. In this room, tea and some Okinawan desserts are served. The desserts such as chinsukou (Okinawan biscuit, similar to shortbread) and Jasmine tea served are both delicious and the view of the garden from the room is exceptional.
- * The information above is from the date of the review. Please be aware that some of the content may vary from the most recent information.
Other Sightseeing Spots of Okinawa
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