Shuri Castle

From Jcastle.info

Shuri1.jpg

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.


Visit 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.


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Gallery
  • 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
  • Shuri 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"
  • Hakuginmon
  • Uekimon
  • Shukujunmon (left) and Uekimon
  • Sonohyan Utaki Ishimon
  • Kobikimon
  • Keiseimon
  • Bifukumon
  • Agari-no Azana (Eastern Bastion)
  • Iri-no Azana (Western Bastion)
  • Seiden (Main Hall) ruin
  • Seiden's original stylobate, 15th century
  • Reconstruction plan
  • Enkakuji ruin's reconstructed Somon


Castle Profile
English Name Shuri Castle
Japanese Name 首里城
Founder
Year Founded 13-14 Century
Castle Type Hilltop
Castle Condition Reconstructed main keep
Designations Top 100 Castles, UNESCO World Heritage Site, National Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Main Keep Structure 2 levels, 2 stories
Year Reconstructed 1992 (wood, concrete)
Features gates, palace, stone walls
Visitor Information
Access Bus
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website http://www.shurijo.com/
Location Naha, Okinawa Prefecture
Coordinates 26° 13' 1.27" N, 127° 43' 9.41" E
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Admin
Added to Jcastle 2006
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed


4.33
(18 votes)
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ARTShogun

7 months ago
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Shouldn't 'Historical Period' be 'Pre-Edo Period' not 'Edo Period'?
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RaymondWHatamoto

7 months ago
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Well spotted, ART. Shuri Castle was built in the 1420s (have to check my books for the exact year) on the site of an existing gusuku which dates back to the 1300s. This profile was written either by Eric or another castle profile contributor, so I reckon you should contact Eric about fixing this mistake. I have only been to Shuri Castle twice, and both times were after the 2019 fire.
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EricShogun

7 months ago
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The original intention of period is whether it existed as a castle in that period or not, not necessarily when it was built. Castles that were active or renovated in the Edo Period display many common characteristics that set them apart from Pre-Edo period castles. It is often hard to identify a castle with a period otherwise since most started as some kind of Pre-Edo fortification. The Okinawa castles might throw this off a bit, because they developed with slightly different influences, and you know, they're not really Japanese castles :) hahaha...
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EricShogun

7 months ago
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.... and if you click that link for Edo Period you would get roughly the same explanation :)
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ARTShogun

7 months ago
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so that's why Matsumoto is 'Edo period'!
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RaymondWHatamoto

10 months ago
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I have added photos of the 7 gates at Shuri Castle which were previously not shown on this castle profile. I have also uploaded two photos of the Eastern and Western bastions, a photo of the Enkakuji's Somon, two photos of the Seiden (Main Hall) ruin and its 15th century stone foundation, and a photo of the Seiden's reconstruction plan in stages from 2020 to 2026.

As I have mentioned in my earlier comment posted below, Shuri Castle is still an impressive castle to visit even after the 2019 fire, which destroyed most of the buildings in the Main Bailey.

Not many visitors check out the Keiseimon and Bifukumon on the southern side of the castle nor do they go for a stroll in the Kyo-no Uchi Bailey. The parapet at the Kyo-no Uchi Bailey, along with the Eastern and Western bastions, offer great panoramic views of Naha City. There are actually two more unnamed reconstructed gates in the Kyo-no Uchi Bailey of this castle.
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RaymondWHatamoto

11 months ago
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A lot of castle fans are probably, like me, very impressed with the amount of restoration and rebuilding done at a few Japanese castles such as Kanazawa Castle and Kumamoto Castle, but there seem to be very little appreciation (online) for the work done on Shuri Castle post-WWII. Shuri Castle is the king of reconstruction among castles in Japan. After the battle of Okinawa, there wasn’t much of Shuri Castle left. Almost everything that that we could see before Seiden (Main Hall) burnt down in 2019, were rebuilt after 1990. Even after all those buildings burnt down and are in the process of being rebuilt, there are still restored gates and some surviving restored buildings (from the 2019 fire) to see for any visitors. While other castles in Japan have fortified gates and towers, and in few cases, a palace rebuilt, everything at Shuri Castle you can see were rebuilt after WWII. This has certainly surpassed the impressive restoration efforts of Kanazawa Castle and Kumamoto Castle, castles which I have been lucky enough to visit and enjoy multiple times.

Here is a list of when the different parts of Shuri Castle were rebuilt. I have left the names in Japanese (romaji). Names ending with “mon” means a gate, so Kankeimon means “Kankei Gate”. All the other names are for buildings located in Shuri Castle.

1958 Shureimon

1968 Enkakuji Somon

1974 Kankeimon

1976 Kyukeimon

1992 Seiden / Nanden / Hokuden / Bansho / Zuisenmon / Rokokumon / Kofukumon / Hoshinmon / Kobikimon

1998 Keiseimon / Agari no Azana (Eastern Bastion)

1999 Hakuginmon

2000 Iri-no-azana (Western Bastion) / Uekimon

2007 Shoin

2010 Shukujunmon

2018 Bifukumon

I have visited this magnificent castle twice, the second time being on New Year’s Day 2022, so it was my opening castle visit for this year. If you take a lot of photos and want to get in all the reconstructed parts of Shuri Castle, you should allow at least 2 hours for your visit. On my first time, I spent over 2 hours on site, and on my second visit, I spent 3 hours on site. The only thing that I have missed on my two visits to Shuri Castle is the marker indicating the site of the Nakayamamon, one of the Shuri Castle gates which has not been rebuilt.
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DiegoDeManilaAshigaru

15 months ago
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Visited 2018 (https://itte...huri-castle/), the year before the fire. Shuri's unique layout and architecture left a strong impression on me - thanks in no small part to how different it all was to the mainland castles I was accustomed to exploring - and a return visit was on the cards. Sadly, the 2019 fire (and now the global medical emergency) means that this will have to wait.
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RandyAshigaru

37 months ago
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website http://www.shurijo.com/ does not exist any longer.

In the morning of 31 October 2019, the main courtyard structures of the castle were destroyed in a fire.
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Anonymous user #1

81 months ago
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Astonishing because it is a very different castle from the main islands and the colours are powerful, a magnificent glimpse of a lost empire.
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FurinkazanHatamoto

93 months ago
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Thanks for the congrats.
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RaymondWHatamoto

93 months ago
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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"
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Jcastle.oldHatamoto

94 months ago
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Furinkazan, Congratulations on #100 and what a fantastic site to do it at! Are you visiting many more Okinawa Castles ?
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FurinkazanHatamoto

94 months ago
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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.
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RonSAshigaru

125 months ago
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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!