Shuri Castle 首里城
Shuri Castle
Picture Donated by David
Year 13-14 Century
Type Hilltop
Condition Reconstructed
Reconstructed 1992 (wood, concrete)
Structure 2 levels, 2 stories
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location Naha, Okinawa
Map Google Map
Access Bus
Website Shuri-jo Castle Park
Notes not personally visited, all the pictures were donated by readers. I would love to visit this and some of the other castles of Okinawa someday.
History The castle was originally founded somewhere in the 13-14th centuries. It was modified and expanded several times coming into its hieght of power during as a palace and fortress for the Ryukyu kings who established the unified Ryukyu kingdom in 1429. These kings ruled for abour 400 years until the Meiji government ousted the king in 1879 and established the prefecture of Okinawa. From 1609 the kingdom was under the control of the Satsuma clan and thereby the Tokugawa Shogunate but they kept some freedom regarding their relationships with China.

Obviously Shuri Castle was neither influenced by the same factors as typical mainland castles nor does it have many of the same structures or types of architecture. The castle and other related sites in the area were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.

Viewer Comments

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  • lidiamq on My Page    June 01, 2016 at 07:40 PM
    Astonishing because it is a very different castle from the main islands and the colours are powerful, a magnificent glimpse of a lost empire.
  • Furinkazan    May 17, 2015 at 06:02 PM
    Thanks for the congrats.
  • RaymondW    May 17, 2015 at 11:18 AM
    Congrats on hitting your 100th castle, Furikazan. I haven't been to this one yet, but it is certainly on my "To Visit List". Thanks for all the informative comments that you have been posting about your castle visits in Okinawa, northern Kanto and Tohoku now. I will definitely make use of them when I visit castle sites in those regions.
  • Eric    May 09, 2015 at 09:36 AM
    Furinkazan, Congratulations on #100 and what a fantastic site to do it at! Are you visiting many more Okinawa Castles ?
  • furinkazan on My Page    May 08, 2015 at 07:06 PM
    Guess who is back in Japan? For my 100th castle visit in Japan, i wanted something special. I thaugt Shurijo would be perfect for that. It's easy to access with the Yui monorail, getting off at Shuristation. The reconstructed buildings are very interesting. Reconstruction is still going on behind the Seiden, on the eastern part of the castle. This year i bought the book for collecting the 100 meijô stamps. Coincidentally number 100 is Shurijô. I really recommend visiting this castle.
  • Frank C    July 27, 2013 at 01:08 AM
    The reconstruction of Shuri Castle is truly a work of art and perserverence by the Okinawan people.When I last saw the site as a sailor stationed at Naha in the 1950's it was nothing but a pile of rubble. Kudos to those who were responsible for its reconstruction. The civilian population lost 150,000 inocent people in the battle for Okinawa and everything they owned. Okinawans are a warm and gracious people. They deserve to get back a small part of their unique culture.
  • Captain Chu-Hi    October 27, 2012 at 09:00 PM
    Amakekiru No Hirameki was developed in this very castle by Seijuro Hiko the First. I can't wait to visit it one day and see the slash marks that have survived the centuries from the edge of his sword.
  • Ron    October 08, 2012 at 02:53 PM
    I hope I can clear some confusion here. Shuri castle was built as both a fortified castle and a royal palace. The stone fortifications are Okinawan in design and belong to a separate (and older) tradition from mainland Japanese castles. If there was any influence from one to the other it was probably from Okinawa to Japan. The wooden structures are a fusion of Chinese and Japanese elements and functions that are blended in a uniquely Okinawan way. Therefore, Shuri Castle is unique in all the world. It belongs on this site and in other works about Japanese castles because Okinawa is today a part of Japan. One more thing - the fact that it could be reconstructed after nearly being obliterated during the WW II and then having a university campus built on top of what little was left is truly a modern miracle!
  • Henrietta    March 27, 2012 at 01:03 AM
    It's a "Japanese Castle" as in a castle that exists in Japan, but since it is from the independent Ryukyuan Kingdom, it's not a "Japanese Castle" in the sense that the Japanese built it. It is a Ryukyuan palace. A lot of people do separate the Chinese-style palaces from what we call "castles" but in Japan it is considered to be a castle and its name is Shuri Castle. I don't know what Frank's point was but the reactions are a bit hostile.
  • americanalia    March 26, 2012 at 10:24 AM
    frank i lived in japan okay!?!?!?!!? i saw it so just stop got it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????!?!?!?!?!!?!?!!!?!?!?!?!?
  • Amanda    January 21, 2012 at 09:06 PM
    Yeah, Frank....I hate to break it to you but it is an Okinawan Castle. It has obvious Chinese influences, but it is technically a Japanese Castle (and a beautiful one at that).
  • Frank T. on My Page    September 21, 2011 at 07:46 PM
    This is neither Japanese nor a castle, but it is a very good reconstruction of the palace. The grounds are extensive and worth some time.
  • Daniel    August 01, 2011 at 10:26 PM
    HI I recently visited Okinawa's Shuri Castle and the architecture was heavily influenced by the Chinese. Thats why one can imagine or think the castle looks very familiar to the Chinese empires
  • john    April 03, 2010 at 06:16 AM
    Shuri castle doesn't look much like a japanese castle, as from the outside it is very much reminescent of a chinese castle or palace, but on the inside;however you can tell
  • Gaijin Okinawa    March 08, 2009 at 03:22 AM
    Kaisan, don't be a know-it-all. It's in Japan right? It's a castle right? Did you read what the guy wrote above? He writes how it's different than usual ones.
  • Kaisan    March 07, 2009 at 07:14 AM
    I am not sure if the castle stand as the same class of castle of Japanese castle. Okinawa used to be a culturally and language distinct island nation than the Japanese Isles. It only got annexed and assimilated into Japanese in the recent history.
  • Okinawan Boy    November 15, 2008 at 01:19 AM
    Visit Okinawa's Shuri Castle and realise the hard detail it took to rebuild the landmark. The Okinawans were nearly wiped out by the U.S. and the original castle still stood before WWII. Today, it's an art work by the revival of the people of Okinawa, and today, 3 million Okinawans live in the world as opposed to 1/3 being wiped out by Americans.
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Naha, Okinawa
Shuri Castle views
Shuri Castle Shurei Mon gate
A close-up of the Shurei Mon's supporting brackets. Kankai Mon
Zuisen Mon View from the Zuisen Mon down to the Kankai Mon
Kyukei Mon View of the Kankai Mon from outside of the castle
Exterior view of the Kyukei Mon outer walls
The Zuisen Mon Rokoku Mon
Hoshin Mon The Seiden (Main Hall)
Sasunoma A view of the garden from the Sasunoma
first floor of the Seiden Chinese-syle throne
Looking east across the court known as "Shicha-nu-una"