Shuri Castle

A red castle that ruled a long-lost kingdom


Shuri Castle, located in Okinawa, is a magnificent structure that takes visitors back in time. Although the current buildings are relatively new, they have been lovingly restored to reflect the rich history of the castle. The castle complex offers a wide range of attractions, from stunning architecture to fascinating exhibits. In this article, we will explore the highlights of Shuri Castle and delve into its historical significance.

Don’t Miss

1. Shurei-mon Gate
Built by King Sho Sei in the early 16th century, Shurei-mon Gate is a must-visit attraction at Shuri Castle. This gate served as the ceremonial entrance to the castle and features a striking seven-meter high red-tiled roof. Despite being destroyed multiple times throughout history, the gate was reconstructed in 1958 and continues to impress visitors with its regal charm.

2. Sonohyan Utaki Ishimon
Another noteworthy feature of Shuri Castle is the Sonohyan Utaki Ishimon, a stone gate entrance to the sacred grove. This gate holds great religious significance as prayers for a safe journey were offered here whenever the king left the castle. Walking through this gate allows visitors to experience the spiritual aura of the castle and connect with its ancient traditions.

3. Kinjocho Ishidatamimichi
For nature lovers, the Kinjocho Ishidatamimichi is a must-see attraction near Shuri Castle. This beautiful stone pathway leads through a grove of trees that are said to be over 300 years old. As you stroll along this pathway, you can soak in the tranquility of the surroundings and appreciate the harmonious blend of nature and history.

4. Shuri Ryusen
Located just a few minutes’ walk from Shuri Castle, Shuri Ryusen offers a unique opportunity to discover the art of creating bingata, ryusen, and other handmade Okinawan textiles. Visitors can witness the intricate craftsmanship involved in these traditional techniques and even try their hand at creating their own textile masterpiece. This cultural experience is a fantastic way to immerse oneself in the rich artistic heritage of Okinawa.

How to Get There

To reach Shuri Castle, you can take a five-minute bus ride or a 15-20-minute walk from Shuri Station on the Okinawa Monorail. Alternatively, there are buses available from central Naha. Simply take the number one bus and alight at Shurijo Koen Iriguchi. Shuri Ryusen is conveniently located within walking distance from Shuri Castle and operates from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

Quick Facts

Shuri was once the capital of Okinawa until the 1870s when it became part of Naha, the new capital. Shuri Castle is one of five castles designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, highlighting its historical and cultural significance. The striking red “brick” roof tiles that adorn the castle are unique to Okinawa and distinguish it from other castles in japan.

Rising from the Ashes

The history of Shuri Castle dates back to the 13th century when it was built by Shunbajunki, the second king of Chuzan. Over the centuries, the castle has been destroyed multiple times, only to be rebuilt each time. The most recent destruction occurred during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa when the castle was heavily bombed. However, in 1992, the castle was reconstructed to its former glory.

Perched atop a hill, Shuri Castle offers a commanding view of Naha. Its strategic location made it a vital stronghold throughout history. The interior of the main building has been meticulously restored to its original style, while the north and south halls house modern museums. Unfortunately, these halls were destroyed by fire in 2019 but are currently being prepared for restoration.

The King’s Gate

The Shurei-mon Gate is a significant attraction within Shuri Castle. Originally built in the early 16th century, this gate was used for ceremonial entrances to the castle. Its grandeur and architectural beauty are awe-inspiring, and visitors can’t help but feel a sense of regality as they pass beneath its towering red-tiled roof. The gate has undergone several reconstructions throughout history, with the most recent one taking place in 1958.

To commemorate the 28th G8 summit held in Okinawa, a 2,000 yen note was specially printed featuring a picture of Shurei-mon Gate. This gate holds great cultural and historical significance, and its image on the currency further cements its importance in Okinawan heritage. It is worth noting that the word “shurei” is often mistakenly associated with Shuri, but it is actually a Chinese word meaning “eternal courtesy.”


Shuri Castle stands as a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of Okinawa. Despite facing destruction numerous times, it has always risen from the ashes, symbolizing the resilience and enduring spirit of the Okinawan people. A visit to Shuri Castle allows visitors to immerse themselves in the fascinating history of the Ryukyu Kingdom, admire the architectural marvels, and experience the spiritual ambiance of this ancient fortress. Whether you are a history enthusiast, an art lover, or simply seeking a glimpse into the past, Shuri Castle is sure to captivate your imagination and leave you with lasting memories.

Address And Maps Location:

1-2 Shurikinjo-cho, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken

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