9 Highlights from Okinawa’s “Gusuku” World Heritage Site
In 2000, the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu became Japan’s 11th registered World Heritage Site. They’re composed of nine historic sites from the Ryukyu Kingdom, which held sway over Okinawa from the 14th to the 18th century. Of these nine, most of them are a type of fortification called “gusuku” in Okinawan. Today we’ll be introducing the highlights of these World Heritage Sites in the order we recommend for going to see them.
Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu
1. Nakijin Castle Site
With a wall totaling 1,500 m in length on a hill 100 m above the sea, Nakijin was famous as an impregnable gusuku. Nowadays, you can even get married here, and the site has been getting attention for its “World Heritage weddings.”
2. Katsuren Castle Site
This is said to be the oldest castle in all of Okinawa.
3. Zakimi Castle Site
4. Nakagusuku Castle Site
Designated as one of Japan’s 100 Famous Castles, Nakagusuku is the best-preserved of the Okinawan gusuku. There are records remaining indicating that Commodore Matthew C. Perry spoke highly of the site when he arrived here by boat in 1853.
5. Shuri Castle Site
6. Sonohyan-utaki Ishimon
Found at the corner of Shuri Castle, this stone gate stands before a holy grove in which the gods are said to reside.
You’ll be able to get between these sites smoothly if you head out in the order we’ve introduced them in. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day to go to all 9 places in one day, so we recommend breaking it into two halves spread over two or more days Even if you hardly know a thing about the history of Okinawa, the splendor of the places alone makes them satisfying destinations.