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nakijin castle

used as the central point from which the northern reaches of okinawa island, and therefore the ryukyuan kingdom, were controlled, nakijin castle (今帰仁城) currently stands as reconstructions and ruins.  nakijin castle as seen today is what it resembled after this northern part of okinawa was unified and came under control of the king at shuri castle.  that was 1416, but it wasn’t until 1422 that an administrator was placed at nakijin castle, making it his residence.  as with the other castles on okinawa that belong to the gusuku sites and related properties of the kingdom of ryukyu, nakijin castle was situation in a place to take advantage of the terrain as a natural defense.  these include steep drop offs, gorges with streams, and its placement atop a hill.  though this castle was not heavily damaged during WWII, a fire in the early 17th century burned down most of the castle.

my three favorite castles on okinawa that are part of the UNESCO world heritage sites are shuri castle, katsuren castle, and nakijin castle.  admission is 400 yen and for taking photos i recommend visiting this location at noon or later, otherwise you will have the sun in front of your as you try to take photos of the castle.  there is a lot of structure and walls remaining, which i found easy for visualizing the original state of nakijin castle.  the views towards the west are fantastic as well, as you can see the south china sea.

looking northwest from the top of the castle grounds.

if possible i recommend renting a car to reach this location.  the primary reason is its distance from naha, which is about 90 kilometers (56 miles).  though its not that far, it will take some time on bus.  the drive along the coast is awesome as well, so if you are driving you can enjoy the view and make any stops along the way as you please.  if travelling by bus, take bus number 20 from the naha terminal to the last stop, nago bus terminal (名護バスターミナル).  then board bus 65 or 66, ask which one is faster, and get off at nakijin gusuku ruins entrance (今帰仁城跡入口) bus stop.  then it’s a 15 minute walk up a slight hill.  follow the signs.

stop by the exchange center first to purchase your entrance ticket.  then cross the street and head towards the castle.  as of november of 2009, excavations are still being conducted on the castle grounds.  this is the first area, or outer ward, situated in front (northwest) of the main gate.

a close up of the wall separating the outer ward and ushimi riding field.  the sun was just in the right spot. :)

steep walls surrounding the main gate, which is pictured on the first photo of this article.

the northwest facing walls of nakijin castle.  they separated the ushimi riding field and outer ward as a second wall of defense.

the walls surrounding the main gate, which is the second opening on the left at the bottom of the stairs.  to each side of the gate was an area for guards to stand protected while they shot arrows at unwelcome guests.

the path leading from the main gate up to the umiya court, where the many buildings of significance were located and ceremonies were carried out.

the same trail, but looking back to the main gate from the top.

the main buildings of nikijin castle were located here, which is also the tallest point on the castle grounds.

looking down on the ushimi riding field that was used for raising and training horses.

headed down to the shijimajokaku ward, where the king’s most important subjects are believed to have lived.  this court is located on the southeast end of the castle, which is at the opposite end of the main gate.

facing the back of the main ward, from the bottom of the photo above looking back.

more photos!

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it was a beautiful day to be outdoors, but perhaps too much contrast for my video camera. :)

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