Shikinaen Royal Garden was the second residence for the royal families. It was built to entertain envoys of the Chinese Emperors, in 1799. Between 15 – 16th century, Ryukyu Kingdom was flourished as an intermediate trade area to connect between China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asian countries since Ryukyu Kingdom was located between these countries. Especially, China had the enormous power and the own rules of diplomacy called “Sappu.” In order to trade with China, the Chinese Emperors needed to authorize kings as “the Kings of Ryukyu Kingdom.” This is so-called “Sappu system.” Every time the new king took over the throne, the Chinese emperors sent envoys and handed certificates to authorize the new kings. Banquets were held at Shikinaen Royal Garden to entertain envoys, and these were considered as the important national projects to maintain a good relationship with China.
Form of the garden is a “circuit style garden” which was loved by many of the powerful territorial lords in pre-modern Japan. A Chinese style arch bridge is placed across a large pond in the center of the garden. A Chinese style of hexagonal building called “Rokkakudo” is located on a small island in the middle of the pond, and visitors can enjoy the views while strolling around the pond. “Udun,” the Ryukyuan traditional style of the state guest house with a red tile roof, is also located near the pond. You can see the unique Ryukyuan style of garden culture which features both Japanese and Chinese styles in the rich nature.
The road from the main gate to welcome guests is a stone-paved road which was made of Ryukyu limestones. While strolling in the woods and keep going the road, a view appears, and finally the palace and a pond show up in front of you. Plants for all four seasons of Japan were planted around the pond, and these were blooming throughout the year. Japanese apricot in spring, Japanese wisteria in summer, and balloon flowers in fall. This was a place to enjoy watching the seasonal changes even on a tropical island like Okinawa. Presently, there are some familiar plants in Japan including cherry blossom, Japanese apricot, willow and others. Also, unique plants of Okinawa can be seen at the garden. These plants include Ryukyu Island pine, sago palm and cornbeefwood. The combination of Japanese and Okinawan plants are the essential part of Shikinaen Royal Garden’s scenery.
There is “Ikutokusen,” a spring filled with water still, at Shikinaen Royal Garden. It was designated as a national monument as the birthplace of red alga, Thorea gaudichaudii which inhabits only in clear fresh water. There are monuments of Chinese envoys that praised this spring.
“Kankodai” is located at the prime vantage point at shikinaen Royal Garden. It was an observatory to show the view to Chinese envoys. By taking advantage of non-oceanview landscape and showing only the view of land which rural scenery stretches out, this trick made the envoys believe that the kingdom looked like a big country. In addition, there were cultivated fields nearby Kankodai. Probably the royal families wanted to imply that this is the country which has a good harvest. Fruits including banana, Japanese plum and lychee are cultivated there still today.
A session about Shikinaen Royal Garden and world heritage
Date: the 3rd Sundays of odd-numbered month 9:00 – 10:00 (1 hour)
Detail: Pay attention to the explanation by a manager and learn about Shikinaen Royal Garden, the world heritage. Admission is free. All participants are required to meet at the ticket office before the session starts.
- Tour guide will be conducted exclusively in Japanese.
Car (About 20 – 40 min)
Take Route 332 and 329 from Naha Airport. Go straight toward Route 82 at Uema Crossing, and you will find the destination right after taking Route 222.
Map Code for car navigation system: 33 131 090
- “マップコード” and “MAPCODE” are registered trademarks of DENSO.
When riding the City Line Shikina/Kainan Line (#2), Matsugawa Shintoshin Line (#3), Arakawa Omoromahi Line (#4), Shikina/Makishi Line (#5), or Makishi Kainan Jyunkai Line (#14), you will see the Shikina-en Gardens from the bus stop.
Bus-navi Okinawa *General Information System for Fixed-route Buses on the Main Island
Monorail (About 40 min)
Take Yui Rail at Naha Airport and get off at “Shuri Station”. Approximately 15 min by taxi.
Yui Rail Official Website
ON THE TRIP A Traveler’s Guide ( App Store )