Zakimi Castle



Zakimi Castle was originally built to check the rising power of the Hokuzan Kingdom to the North. After the Chuzan Kingdom defeated Hokuzan, Lord Gosamaru moved to Nakijin Castle to govern over the area for the Chuzan Kingdom.

Zakimi Castle, along with Shuri Castle and several other related sites in Okinawa, were desiganted a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2000. They are also designated a National Historical Site.

Visit Notes

not personally visited

  • stone wall and gate
  • stone wall and gate
  • stone wall
  • stone walls
  • stone walls
  • stone walls
  • stone walls and gate
  • stone walls and gate
  • stone walls and gate
  • stone walls and gate
  • stone walls and gate
  • stone walls

Castle Profile
English Name Zakimi Castle
Japanese Name 座喜味城
Alternate Names Zakimi-gusuku, Yuntanza Gusuku
Founder Aji Gosamaru
Year Founded 15th century
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Next 100 Castles, UNESCO World Heritage Site, National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features stone walls
Visitor Information
Access bus
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website zkm.html
Location Yomitan, Okinawa Prefecture
Coordinates 26° 24' 30.85" N, 127° 44' 30.16" E
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Added to Jcastle 2006
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

(6 votes)
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8 months ago
Score 0++

My wife and I made our first visit to Zakimi Castle in 2022. We went again earlier this year. Zakimi Castle was the last of the World Heritage Ryukyuan castles that we visited. Like the other four World Heritage castles in Okinawa, Zakimi Castle is certainly worthy of this designation. The castle consists of just two baileys. On our first visit, we only spent 2.5 hours on site for both the gusuku and Yuntanza Museum (local history and culture museum) as we had two more gusukus to visit after Zakimi Castle. However, we took a more leisurely 3.5 hours on our second visit for just the gusuku, doing a bit of extreme “slow castling” to properly appreciate, photograph, and video the beautifully constructed stone walls, much of which were restored after WWII. Zakimi Castle was shelled by US naval ships because there were Japanese coastal guns located there, which could target the landing beaches.

Zakimi Castle has three types of ishigaki (stone walls): nozurazumi, nunozumi, and aikatazumi. If we had not chatted with the museum director on our first visit, we would have assumed that these ishigaki styles were the result of having built the castle over decades. Instead, Lord Gosamaru brought in stonemasons and labourers from all over the Ryukyu Kingdom. He then had them compete in building sections of the walls. These builders had their preferred construction method, so all three styles of ishigaki were employed concurrently in building the Zakimi Castle stone walls. Prior to constructing Zakimi Castle in 1422, Gosamaru and his father was at Yamada Castle, a few kilometres further north. They decided to re-locate and build Zakimi Castle because Yamada Castle had limited space to expand.

Having visited Nakagusuku Castle multiple times prior to going to Zakimi Castle, we could easily see the similarities in design of the Third Bailey and North Bailey of Nakagusuku Castle with the two baileys of Zakimi Castle. Gosamaru was made castellan of Nakagusuku Castle by the third Ryukyuan King of the 1st Sho Dynasty, King Sho Chu, in 1440. After taking charge of Nakagusuku Castle, Gosamaru was responsible for adding the Third Bailey and North Bailey to Nakagusuku Castle, and the similarities with Zakimi Castle are remarkable. Also, a castle fan should pay attention to the arched gates at Zakimi Castle which used an older building technique and compare them to the ones at Nakagusuku Castle built by Gosamaru using a later building technique. There is one small difference. I’ll leave it up to each castle fan to figure it out when they visit these two magnificent Ryukyuan gusuku.

My wife and I went to the Osaka Castle Fest in Umeda during this summer. There was a booth from Yomitan, and the staff there were delighted to hear that some castle fans living in Kansai had visited their local gusuku twice.

Anonymous user #1

164 months ago
Score 1++
Well worth the drive, provided its not too hot and sweaty! Interesting construction with a European feel to the remaining walls.