Shuri Castle was built in the 14th century and was the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It was neglected for almost 400 years and suffered great damage during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. After the war, the castle was used as a university campus, but from 1992 it was rebuilt through extensive reconstructions based on historical records and photographs.
A significant number of the castle's main buildings were burnt down in October 2019. The site is closed to the public for the time being, but Shurijo Castle Park has been partially reopened since. Authorities aim to have a reconstruction plan ready by 2022.
The castle served as the administrative center for several centuries until Okinawa became a Japanese prefecture in 1879. The castle is listed as one of the Ryukyu Kingdom's castles declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The main buildings of Shuri Castle were destroyed by fire on the night of October 31, 2019. There are plans to rebuild the castle by 2026. In the meantime, tourists are encouraged to visit the castle and watch the reconstruction work.
The Seiden, or “West Hall,” is also called the State Palace. It was located east of the Una and faced west toward China. The Great Dragon pillars were crafted from sandstone and were symbolic of the king. These dragon motifs are replicated throughout the castle.
Together with 13 other gates, Shureimon Gate was the second ceremonial gate to the Shuri-jo Castle complex. Following the design concepts of the rest of the majority of the castle complexes, the gate also has a distinct Chinese feel to its structure.
Shuri-jo Castle was also home to several shrines (~utaki) and temples (~ji). Three of which played a role of significant importance to the functions of the castle. Kyo-no-uchi, where prayers by high priestesses were made; Sonohyan-utaki where the king prayed for order and safety; and the Suimi-utaki, which was supposedly created by the gods and is the theme of many songs and prayers in Ryukyu’s oldest music collection.
Royal stone gate used by the former King as a placer of prayer and exit of the castle grounds – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Discover Sonohyan-Utaki Ishimon
Shuri-jo Castle is a 5-minute walk from Shuri Station.
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