Zakimi Castle was built by Gosamaru, a great commander who played an important role during “Sanzan Period (war-torn era)” and worked hard to secure the Ryukyu Kingdom after its unification. It was built around 1420, and the purpose was to have an eye on the power against the King. Even though the size is small, it features the most sophisticated and beautiful stone-built wall and gate among all castles in Okinawa. This is the important historical site which indicates the highly technique of stone structures.
The front wall of the castle is projected as waves. This is a twist to beat attack of the enemies. It is believed that anybody can see the look of the enemies from here without leaning over, and it was effective for attacking from different directions. There is a passageway which seems like continuing endlessly. When you keep going forward, it actually leads to a dead end. This twist, “Musha gakushi,” is to fool the enemies and attack them. It is obvious that Zakimi Castle was built as a fortified castle to prepare for wars.
Zakimi Castle was built on argilliferous red clay soils called “Kunigami Maaji.” The castle wall’s curved line and thickness of the width are likened to a folding screen. It is designed to be effective for compensating the geological condition and making unbreakable structure. Masonry to interlock and pile up rocks is called “Aikata-zumi,” and another technique called “Nuno-zumi” can be seen on the castle architecture of Japan. These masonry were used to build the castle. Its gate is the oldest arch-shaped gate which exists in Okinawa. Wedges were used on the center part of the gate to enhance the strength of it. This unique structure can be seen only on Zakimi Castle, and it symbolizes Gosamaru’s building technique with a high-quality.
Zakimi Castle is located on the hill which is about 125 meters high. On a sunny day, anybody can overlook Naha City where Shurijo Castle is located. The characteristic of this castle wall is the thickness of width, and 5 – 6 adults can stand on it. This and Nakagusuku Castle are the only castles that can stand on castle walls (some areas are prohibited to enter). Also, since the admission is free, you can visit here anytime you want. When you visit here in the late afternoon and stand on the castle wall, you can have a view of the beautiful sunset.
During the time Gosamaru was engaged in international trade at a port near Zakimi Castle, a weaving technique was brought from Southeast Asia, which later turned out the root of the textile “Yuntanzan Hanaui” produced in Yomitan Village. Yuntanzan Hanaui was produced based on the technique and inherited as the textiles of Ryukyu royal government. After Meiji period, the production was stopped temporarily because of the industrialization of weaving industry. Later on, it resumed in 1964 by volunteers’ valuable efforts. Presently, it is designated as Intangible Cultural Properties of Okinawa and Traditional Craft by Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Zakimi Castle Ruins (Zakimi-jō site)
Address: 708-6 Zakimi, Yomitan Village, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa 904-0301
Zakimi-jō site official website (Yuntanza Museum) *Only in Japanese
Yomitan Villege Tourism Association *Only in Japanese
Car (About 1 hr)
Take Route 332, 331, 329, 82 and Okinawa Expressway (Naha I.C. – Ishikawa I.C.) from Naha Airport. Next, take Route 73, 58 and 12 and drive toward Yomitan Village and proceed 12 km.
Map Code for car navigation system: 33 854 486
- “マップコード” and “MAPCODE” are registered trademarks of DENSO
Monorail / Bus (About 1 hr 30 mins)
Take “Yui Rail” and get off at “Asahibashi Station”. Walk toward Naha Bus Terminal (5 minutes). Take Yomitan Line (#29) and get off at “Zakimi” or “Takashiho Iriguchi” bus stops. Walk about 15 – 20 mins.