Sonohyan-utaki Stone Gate was built in 1519 and used as a spot for the royal family to pray at. They prayed for a safe journey when the king went outside the castle. They also prayed here first when events of pilgrimage and the accession ceremony for the highest rank of shaman, called Kikoe Okimi, were held. The stone gate was made from Ryukyu limestone, with the exception of the wooden door.
Sonohyan-utaki Ishimon -Sonohyan-utaki Stone Gate-
Address: near 1-7 Shurimawashi, Naha City, Okinawa 903-0816 (Located within Shurijo Castle Park)
Car (Approximately 40 minutes)
Take Route 331 from Naha Airport and drive toward the center of Naha City. Next, take Route 58 and turn right on Tomari Crossing. Go straight on Route 29 and drive toward Shuri.
*If you take “Tomigusuku – Nakachi I.C.” on Okinawa Expressway, get off at “Haebaru Kita I.C.” and take Route 329.
- Map Code for car navigation system: 33 161 526
- “マップコード” and “MAPCODE” are registered trademarks of DENSO.
Bus Route (Approximately 40 – 60 minutes)
- When riding the City Line (#1, 14, 17), or Outer-City Line (#46), exit the bus at the “Shurijō kōen iriguchi.” The Shureimon Gate is approximately a 5-minute walk.
- When riding the Shuri-jōkamachi Line (#7, 8), exit the bus at “Shurijō-mae.” The Shureimon Gate is approximately a 1-minute walk.
- When riding the City Line (#9, 13), or Outer-City Line (#25, 97), exit the bus at the “Yamagawa” bus stop. The Shureimon Gate is approximately a 15-minute walk.
Monorail (Approximately 50 minutes)
Take Yui Rail at Naha Airport and get off at “Shuri Station”. Walk approximately 15 minutes.
*Route bus (Shurijokamachi Line #8) operates from Shuri Station. (Get off at “Shurijo-mae” bus stop, walk approximately 3 minutes, and you will be at Shureimon Gate)
A design which can often be seen in Japanese and Chinese wooden architecture is expressed with stone on Sonohyan-utaki Stone Gate. The center part of its roof is high and features smooth flowing curve. Also, an arabesque pattern was engraved on the center part of the roof, and flaming jewel and killer whale-shaped roof tiles are placed on top of it. The arch door appears to be an interlocked structure with the rock, but is actually elaborately whittled from the rock. Also, a perspective with optical illusion is used for the gate, thus there were difficulties in restoring it to original condition.
The way of praying in Ryukyu is a little bit different compared to that of mainland Japan. Temples or shrines are not sacred places for people in Ryukyu. Their sacred places are called Utaki where a community’s Gods are enshrined. These Gods exist in rocks and trees, and each Utaki was formed naturally while enshrining Gods. Utaki is located behind Sonohyan-utaki Stone Gate, and the divided spirit of the legendary God on Iheya Island “Tanoue no Sonohiyabu” was enshrined here. Iheya Island is familiar to the Royal Family. People are praying to the Utaki, not to the stone gate.