Wednesday 4 April 2018

Naha's castle - Shuri castle (Shurijo - Naha, Okinawa 首里城)

As you know from a post last year (Charlies tacos), I took a trip down to Okinawa with good friend Tetsuya.  One of the places that we wanted to visit was Shuri castle.

Shuri castle was built back in 1429 and a lot of the structure has real similarities to Chinese architecture.  It was the palace of the Ryukyu kingdom until 1879 when Okinawa became part of Japan.  It was left mostly unused and deteriorated over time.  During the battle of Okinawa that devastated much of Okinawa, Shuri castle was heavily damaged.  In 1992, reconstruction commenced back to what it is today.

Tetsuya decided to brave the heat and visit the castle during the day.  I chickened out because of the heat and decided to visit later in the evening.  Jumping on the monorail I went all the way to the end, Shuri castle and started the short walk to its location.  Along the way I spotted some beautiful old style buildings.

Not sure what they were but they looked nice.  I kept on going and saw a sign pointing the way to the entrance of the castle.

I wasn't so sure, but I decided to trust the sign and continued on and things started looking a little better.

This looked a whole lot more Royal and closer to what I was expecting.  I rounded a corner and came face to face with this.

I stopped to say Hi to the Shisa at the entrance.

Shisa are traditional Okinawan guardians.  They represent lions and are often seen in pairs, one with it's mouth open, the other it's mouth closed.  The open mouthed one, like this one here, keeps evil spirits away while the open mouthed one keeps good spirits in.  I thanked him for his work and moved on inside the gates where I was greeted with this view.

Incredible!  And for it to be so quiet too!  It was almost like Okinawa was saying "Jason, here you are."

I bought a ticket (820 yen) to go inside and headed on in.

As with a lot of places at the moment, Shuri castle is undergoing renovations and the front part of the main castle was having some work done.

It is inevitable that tourist spots will have work done on them from time to time to keep them in top condition.  This, in no way, detracted from the experience that I was going through.  I moved on in to the castle itself and it was here that the mix of Japan and Ryukyu shone through.  This, very much Japan.

and this, very much Ryukyu.

Unfortunately for me, closing time was approaching so I made my way out of the castle

and back towards the station.

Okinawa has a unique culture and Shuri castle had just given me a unique experience. In fact it, and the people and the way of life, reminded me a lot of Australia and Australians.  I highly recommend visiting the castle in the evening.  Not only will you avoid the heat, but also the crowds and get a beautiful perspective of the castle lit grandiosely.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the photos (which don't really do the castle justice).  Please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you, and please sign up on the right side of the screen to get email updates when I upload a new post.  Take care and see you next time.

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