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with spectacular views of the pacific ocean and east china sea, perched atop a hill, it is easy to understand why a castle was built on this location.  nakagusuku-jo (中城城), or nakagusuku castle, was principally built to protect shuri castle and the core of the ryukyuan kingdom from attacks from the east.  these attacks originated from katsuren castle and lord amawari, which was a separate kingdom before the unification of okinawa.  though it was heavily bombed during WWII, nakagusuku-jo has some of the best preserved walls.

reaching this UNESCO world heritage site is most easily done by car rental.  you can also take bus #30, which starts at the bus terminal in down town naha, at get off at nakagusu shogako mae (中城小学校前) or soeshi (添石).  however, you will have to walk a little bit over 1.5 km (1 mile) up hill to reach the site.  you could also take a taxi from the bus stop, but i’m not sure of the frequency of taxis in that area, so try hitchhiking! ;)  entrance fee is 300 yen.

you approach the castle from the east.  beside the ticket office looking up towards the top of the short walk up-hill, where nakagusuku castle is located.


when you reach the top, there is a nice open grassy field behind the rear of the castle.  on this day they were cutting the grass.  ha!


moving closer to the castle.  you can see the “turtle back” shape to the castle walls.  on the right is the rear gate.


the rear gate.  look at how thick the walls are!  apparently commodore perry compared it to egyptian architecture.  i don’t see it though.


the wall separating the third and second enclosure also exhibits a “turtle back” design.


within the northern enclosure is this large well, ufugaa.  it is believed that gosamaru, who was stationed at nakagusuku-jo for almost 20 years, had the castle built out to encompass this well.


taken from the second enclosure looking towards the west at the entrance to the first enclosure.


taken from the other side looking back.


archeological excavations are still occurring at the first enclosure.  gosamaru’s main mansion was situated here.


a partial view of the gate leading to the south enclosure, holy ground with three places of worship.


one of the three worship areas was shuri utoshi, where the fire deity was worshiped.


the west end of nakagusuku castle.  you can see the castle walls at the top, taking advantage of the topography.


the walls of the west enclosure.  horses were trained in this area of the castle.


additional photos from the day.

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video clip with a nice 360 degree view.

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  1. […] was amawari, who ruled during the 15th century.  amawari was successful in gaining control over nakagusuku castle during his uprising.  however, a later attempt on shuri castle failed and proved fatal for […]