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shikinaen (識名園) was the private garden of the ryukyuan royal family.  it was also the largest second residence and used for hosting special guests.

built in 1799 the garden has distinct japanese, chinese, and ryukyuan elements.  the circular landscape is of japanese style and preferred by the daimyo, lords in pre-modern japan.  the hexagonal building and built on a small island in the pond is of chinese style.  its presence is also common to chinese gardens.  the udun (御殿) palace, the main building in the garden, is distinctly ryukyuan with its red tiled roof.  admission to the garden is 300 yen, which you reach by taking bus number five to shikinaen royal garden bus stop.  taking a taxi from downtown naha is about 800 yen.

this is a pretty and relaxing garden, indeed befitting of royalty.  though the garden had to be completely rebuilt after WW II, several available photographs, paintings, and texts were used to reconstruct the garden as closely as possible to its original state.  at specific times during the spring, summer, and fall different flowers are in bloom.  its a nice place for walking around and taking photos.

heading in the suggested route, just past the current entrance to the park is tsuyo-mon (通用門), the side gate.  unless you were ryukyuan royalty you had to enter through this gate.


trees next to the gate with outstretching limbs.  as if they are reaching up to support the sky.


further down the path, between the two gates.


some of the cool roots growing down from the limbs.  you can see them in the photo above as well.


this is the main gate that was used exclusively by ryukyuan royalty and chinese delegates responsible for coronation ceremonies.  it looks the same as the tsuyo-mon gate, but it is larger.  the sei-mon (正門) gate is constructed with a roof above the entrance.  this is was symbolic of high status.


following the route you will see ikutoku-sen (育徳泉) spring.  the water from this spring is one of the water sources for the pond.


this was my favorite path throughout the grounds.  i like the high walls and plants growing on it.


just through that area is udun palace.  it’s not usually this crowded, but there was a special event on this day.  many people could be seen throughout the garden writing poetry.


a close-up of the traditional ryukyuan tile roof.


the guard house to the royal gardens.


view of the pond from in-front of udun palace.


the middle island connected by one bridge on either side.


the hexagonal building, rokkaku-do (六角堂) in its small island.  it was used for resting.  unfortunately the bridge is not visible, but it is built from a single block of limestone.


looking from the other side of the pond towards the rokkaku-do, udun palace, and the middle island.


this bridge stands quite in contrast to the other bridge to the middle island, in the photo above.  both bridges were built in chinese style.


a liked the light at this moment striking these two walls.


additional photographs:

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  1. […] was quite melancholic (to say the least) to visit Shikina-En Royal Garden in a downpour.  But then, there were hardly any visitors besides me and that counts for […]