Back in the old days, there was a civil war period called “Sanzan Period,” and Ryukyu Kingdom was divided into 3 nations – Hokuzan, Chuzan and Nanzan. Nakijin Castle was a castle of the Hokuzan’s King who ruled the area from northern Okinawa to Amami region. However, it was attacked by Sho Hashi who ruled Chuzan in 1416. After Sho Hashi unified 3 nations and Ryukyu Kingdom was born, Nakijin Castle was used as corrections officers’ castle who were sent by Ryukyuan Government. The length of the castle wall is 1.5 km long. The height is 8m tall at the highest place, and the scale of the whole castle is the 2nd biggest castle behind Shurijo Castle.
Most castle walls were built with Ryukyu limestone. They were formed with piled-up coral calcareous and easy to process. Unlike these castle walls, Nakijin Castle was built with the hard rocks called Paleozoic limestone, and they were unearthed from its premises. Since the rocks were formed in primeval time, fossils of ammonite and others were discovered here often. One of the characteristics of the castle wall is that the oldest construction technique called “Nozura-zumi” was applied to built it. This technique is to take advantage of the rocks’ natural shape, pile them up, and build the wall.
The castle wall of Nakijin Castle was started building in 14th century. Unlike rectilinear castle walls in Japan, its style was influenced by China which had diplomatic relations with Ryukyu Kingdom at that time. The castle walls with rocks were constructed in Ryukyu Kingdom 300 years earlier than Japan. The main reason why the wall is undulating is for the defense purposes. A huge rock was placed on the roof of “Heiroumon,” the main gate. It suggests that the castle was very secure.
In the middle of the stairs from the main gate, there is an old path on the right. It was formed by a natural landform, and the old path was used from the main gate long time ago. Here is the place where everybody can imagine the time when kings and queens were walking through the path.
There was a woman of great beauty named Shigema Utudaru, and she was the concubine of the King Hokuzan. She doted on the prince of the king and the queen. She risked her own life to protect the prince when an succession conflict had occured. Pure-hearted Shigema Utudaru was treated as the God, and later called “Nakijin Ukami.” A poem about her tender love written by an anonymous poet became popular among people, and it was inscribed on a monument. It is located at “Uumiyaa,” a square of Nakijin Castle.
Nakijin Castle Ruins (Nakijin-jō site)
Address: 5101 Imadomari, Nakijin Village, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa 905-0428
Nakijin-jō site official website
Nakijin Cherry Blossom Festival (Nakijin Gusuku Sakura Matsuri)
Late Jan. – Early Feb.
Light up will be held during the event
Nakijin Gusuku wo Manabu Kai*Only in Japanese
English and Spanish guides are available (Reservation is required)
Car (About 1 hr 50 mins)
Take Route 332, 331, 329, 82 and Okinawa Expressway (Naha I.C. – Kyoda I.C.) from Naha Airport. Next, take Route 58 and 505, and proceed 5 km. Turn left at a signboard.
Map Code for car navigation system: 553 081 414
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Bus (About 3 hr 30 mins)
Take express bus #111 at Naha Airport and get off at Nago Bus Terminal, the last bus stop. Take #66 at Nago Bus Terminal and get off at “Nakijin Joseki Iriguchi” bus stop. Walk for about 15 mins.
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