Back in 1601, the present Okinawa was a separated from the country of Japan and was known as the "Ryukyu Kingdom", a small independent nation. After the Meiji Restoration, it was abolished and became as what is called now as the Okinawa Prefecture.
Heritage sites are scattered along the main island of Okinawa to testify the unique cultural, historical heritage and religious beliefs during the Ryukyu Kingdom invasion. By the year 2000, those sites, specifically 5 castles and 4 sites were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the title of "Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu".
Among the nine cultural sites in the Okinawa Island are the following:
Shuri Castle - It is considered as the most important castle of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Before, it served as an administrative center and residence of the Ryukyu kings for several centuries.
Nakagusuku Castle Ruins - The ruins of this castle is the best preserved among the many castle ruins in Okinawa. It also offers a nice views of the surrounding area and Nakagusuka Bay.
Katsuren Castle Ruins - This castle is known as the former seat of the popular lord of Amawari in the 15th century. It also offers a nice view below as it is located on a steep hill close to the coast.
Zakimi Castle Ruins - Located on a hill near Cape Zampa in the central Okinawa Honto. It has the Okinawa's oldest arched stone gate. It also offers a 360 degree view of the central Okinawa.
Nakijin Castle Ruins - It is located in the Northern Okinawa Honto. It was the residence of the Ryukyuan Kingdom governor. Today, it is a bit populated hillside.
Tamaudun Mausoleum - It is located near the Shuri Castle. It served as the mauseleum for the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom built around the 16th century.
Sonohyan Utaki Stone Gate - It is located along the main hall of Shuri Castle. It served as a guardian shrine of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Shikinaen Garden - A beautiful Japanese style landscape garden located in Naha City, Okinawa. It is served as the second home of the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Sefa Utaki - It is located on a forested hillside. Considered as one of the most sacred sites of the Okinawan Region that is one of the key locations to worship nature.
Sites and monuments are spread across Okinawa Honto. Unfortunately, public tranportaion is poor in the area. The easiest way to get around is by renting a car especially outside central Naha.
Ready your feet to see all the UNESCO World Heritage site in Okinawa Island, you shouldn't miss one! Every spot is worth the time as you may learn and discover information and experience something new in this historical heritage site in Japan.
Here at Pop Japan, we pride ourselves on being one of the most passionate promoters of our nation. It is our strong belief that Japan has the ability to offer anyone a very fulfilling life.