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Visiting the Central and Southern Parts: World Heritage and Okinawa's History Route

■Shikina-en

  識名園 Shikina-en was established as a villa for the Ryukyuan Royal Family in 1799 and also used for welcoming envoys (Sapposhi) from the Chinese imperial government. The garden with a unique atmosphere of Ryukyu influenced by both China and Japan is the Kaiyu (stroll) style garden where visitors stroll around the pond and enjoy seasonal changes during the four seasons of Japan. With the pond looking like a kanji character “心 (mind)” located in a center, there is a Rokkaku-do, a Chinese-style hexagonal pavilion, and several arch bridges made of Ryukyu limestone. In 2000, it was added to the list of World Heritage Sites as well as to the Special Places of Scenic Beauty of Japan.  
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■Shurijo (Shurijo Castle Park)

  守礼門 The date of construction is unknown, but it is believed to have been built as a castle for a king of the First Sho Dynasty, and extended and maintained by Sho Shin, a king of Second Sho Dynasty. There are two gates outside of the castle called Shurei-mon, and other gates within the castle walls, called Kankai-mon, Zuisen-mon and Hakugin-mon, and these were built in masonry style using Ryukyu limestone. The main palace is named Momoura soeuden and it was built with a south and north palace next to the main one. The castle was destroyed by fire during Battle of Okinawa, but it was reconstructed and opened as Shurijo Castle Park in 1992.
In December 2000, it was registered as an UNESCO World Heritage Site as a part of “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.”

The main shrine and other buildings disappeared again in the fire in October 2019, and now the guardian gate can be visited.

I hope for the early restoration of the beautiful main hall.

 
 
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■Nakagusuku Castle ruins

  中城城跡 Nakagusuku Castle ruins are located on a hill facing Nakagusuku Bay. It is a mountain castle which is divided into 6 enclosures by the castle walls. It is said that, in 1440, Gosamaru moved from Zakimi Castle to Nakagusuku Castle and extended the castle walls. These walls are well preserved. A major part of the walls was built in masonry style using Ryukyu limestone except for a part where natural unprocessed stones were used. Because of the difference in masonry techniques among those enclosures, some people believe that some of them were constructed at different times. In 1458, Amawari, who was a Lord of Katsuren Castle, accused Gosamaru of plotting to overthrow the king.

In December 2000, it was registered as an UNESCO World Heritage Site as a part of “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.”
 
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■Zakimi Castle ruins

  It is said that the castle was built by Ryukyuan general Gosamaru who was known as a master of castle construction in the early 15th century, when the Ryukyu Kingdom prospered through trading with Japan, China and other Southeast Asian countries. It is located on a hill 120m above sea level, and almost the whole area of Yomitan Village (yomitanson) can be viewed from the highest point. It is divided into 2 enclosures by the castle walls with an arch stone gate. This place has been used as a “natural theater” for entertainment shows and events.  
       



 

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