Shuri Castle
Before and After WWII

Shuri (above) restored; Shuri before WWII (below)
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After six years of planning and hard work, Shuri Castle reopened to the public in November of 1992. The "new" castle sweeps you back in time to the days of feudal warlords, emperors and warriors. Each building was painstakingly reconstructed to look as close to the original as possible. Although the original castle site was much larger, the land available for today's Shuri Castle gives you a good idea of how life was like many hundreds of years ago.

shurilayout - 15420 BytesThe original layout of Shuri, shortly after WWII
Shuri Castle is believed to have been built by King Satto at the end of the 14th century. The original Shuri Castle stood on a hill (130 meters above sea level) called Shuri Tonokura in Naha. This was the largest castle in Okinawa and measured 400 meters long from east to west, 270 meters long from north to south and 46,167 square kilometers in area. The castle was the headquarters of the Sho dynasty for 450 years -- from 1492 (when three kingdoms were unified on Okinawa) through 1879. Commodore Matthew Perry signed the Treaty of Peace and Amity at Shuri Castle in 1854.

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BytesThe remains of Shuri after the war
Shuri Castle was designated a national treasure of Japan in 1928, then was totally destroyed during WWII. In 1950 the University of the Ryukyus was built on the site and used by them for 32 years until they relocated to a new site in south central Okinawa in 1982. The site was then designated Shuri District of National Okinawa Memorial Park, and the castle was restored and reopened to the public in November of 1992.

There are three courts inside of Shuri Castle that are separated by walls. The front court was where king coronation ceremonies were held by Chinese officials. On both sides of the front court sit two buildings. The one to the south was used for receiving official lookouts from the Satsuma clan and Japanese officials as well as for Japanese ceremonies. The building to the north was used to entertain envoys sent from China.

The main castle building is built of wood in a mixture of Ryukyuan, Japanese and Chinese styles and looks like a two-story building when it actually houses three stories. The main hall has what is called a "hip" roof made in the irimoya style with red tiles and a Chinese gable roof adorning its main entrance. Ceremonial functions held by Chinese envoys were held in the court of the main hall.

Shurei Gate

This was built as the second of three principal gates of the main access to Shuri Castle and has become a symbol of Okinawa, seen on many postcards. The main gate, "Kankai mon," stands at the end of the access, which leads to the main palace via a stone pavement path. The letters in the frame of the gate (giving the gate its name) have been changed three times over the years, "Taiken," "Shuri," and "Shurei."

Although Shurei Gate was designated a national treasure in 1929, it was destroyed during WWII. The faithful replica of the gate was built in October of 1958 from original plans kept by Mr. Mori, a technical official working at the Ministry of Education. The gate was then designated a cultural property of the Okinawan Prefecture in 1972.

HOURS: From December-February 9:00-5:30, gates close at 5:00 p.m., from March-November 9:00-6:00, gates close at 5:30 p.m. FEES: Adults 800, High school students 600, Jr. high/elementary students 300, Under six years of age are admitted free of charge. DIRECTIONS: From Kadena Air Force Base, go South on Highway 58. You'll see signs for Shuri Castle Park in English every 10 meters or so. Follow the signs to the park and there should be signs for the parking area.