October 3, 2012

Okinawa Castles - Nakagusuku Castle

Nakagusuku castle ruins on okinawa
Nakagusuku Castle walls

Nakagusuku Castle Ruins

Nakagusuku castle is an Okinawan castle from the 14th century. 

It is a very advanced structure for the time period, made with cut limestone and perfectly fit together without the use of mortar or cement. 

Nakagusuku castle is one of many castles built by Okinawan lords in each of the major villages throughout Okinawa. 

Other castles on Okinawa include: Katsuren Castle, Nago Castle, and the fully restored, Shuri Castle in Naha.

Nakagusuku castle is located near the middle of the island in Nakagusuku village, a little south of Kadena Air Base. It is also very close to the Haunted Hotel.

view from nakagusuku castle ruins on okinawa
Nakagusuku Castle - View of surrounding area and ocean

Brief History of Nakagusuku Castle

Nakagusuku Castle Gate on Okinawa
Castle Gate
The castle was built sometime around 1350 AD by a Ryukyan Lord who made it his residence, based on artifacts found at the castle. 

During the next 200 years, several different lords occupied the castle and continued to build on it, adding several outer walls, and inner enclosures

In 1853, Commodore Perry visited Okinawa and conducted a survey of the castle, even making note of the advanced and durable design.

During the 1800's and early 1900's the castle is used for a city office and school grounds. In WWII, the city office is destroyed and the castle suffers some damages.

After the WWII, Nakagusuku castle is designated as a park, and between 1950 and 2000 various work has been done to restore the castle and improve the park surrounding it.

In 2006 Nakagusuku castle was selected as one of the 100 most famous Japanese Castles. 

Visiting Nakagusuku Castle

Nakagusuku castle well
Looking up from the castle well
Nakagusuku castle makes a fantastic afternoon adventure for almost anyone. Both kids and adults will find it impressive and fascinating. Walking around a structure that is hundreds of years older than anything in American History is a spellbinding experience.

The location of the castle more than 100 meters above sea level on top of a hill gives it breathtaking views of the surrounding villages and ocean. One can even see Katsuren Castle located several miles away on the Katsuren Peninsula.

The castle itself has several different enclosures, gates and walled off sections. Some sections of the walls are open for visitors to walk around on. But take note of any signs and follow their directions, because the castle is still in the midst of full restoration.

The bold architecture and beautiful views make for a fun photo opportunity for any kind of photographer.

Nakagusuku castle ruins castle wall
Section still in need of restoration
It is fascinating to explore every part of this sprawling castle visualizing what it must have been like hundreds of years ago. There are a number of informational stands scattered throughout the castle grounds which offer bits of information on certain areas.

Visiting Nakagusuku castle costs only 400 yen per person and this goes directly towards funding the restoration of the castle.

The castle is fairly large with lots of steps and rough ground so wear appropriate footwear.

Parking and vending machines are available at the entrance to the castle, which can be found using Google Maps - Nakagusuku Castle.

For more information about the history, directions or group prices, visit the Nakagusuku Castle Official Website

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