Take a tour of this lavishly decorated hilltop castle that was home to powerful Japanese kings for more than 400 years.
Shurijo Castle is a monumental fortress sitting on top of a hill overlooking the Okinawan capital, Naha. It was home to generations of Ryukyu kings, who ruled over Japan’s southwestern islands for nearly 450 years. Admire the impressive architecture, discover artifacts and learn about the castle’s fascinating history.
The original castle is believed to have been built at the end of the 14th century. Since that time, it has been ravaged by warfare and fires, and it was completely destroyed during World War II. The castle was reconstructed from photographs and records, and reopened to the public in 1992.
Enter the castle complex through a series of impressive gates, including Kankaimon Gate, with its two stone lions, and the ornate Houshinmon Gate. Stand in the Una Forecourt at the center of the castle, which once hosted many rituals and ceremonies.
Survey the lavish decorations of the Seiden, the three-story State Hall where the royal family once lived. This large wooden building is painted in vermilion and gold, and features many decorative carvings. Inside, see replicas of the king’s throne and crown.
Visit the Nanden (South Hall) to see pictures, paintings and calligraphy from the days of the Ryuku Kingdom. Learn about the history of the castle and its residents from the information panels in the Hokuden (North Hall). Visit Shoin Sasunoma, the administrative building where the king conducted daily affairs of state. Sit among the cycads and pine trees in the restored garden.
Shurijo Castle is open daily except for the first Wednesday and Thursday of July. Admission charges apply with discounts for high school students. Children under six enter free.
Located in Naha, the castle is easily reached by bus or car from the city. If you arrive by car, park in the metered underground lot. Shurijo Castle is surrounded by the grounds of Shurijo Castle Park, so leave some time to explore its historic sites, including temples and a 16th-century pond.