Nakagusuku Castle on the east coast of Okinawa Honto is believed to be the earliest stone castle in what is now present-day Japan and is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed site under the title Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.
Gusuku is the term for an Okinawan castle with characteristic dry stone walls, arched gates and courtyards.
Nakagusuku Castle was built by Lord Gosamaru, previously the lord of Zakimi Castle to the north east, in around 1450, though much of the castle has been destroyed over time, including World War II, and only the stone walls and gates survive.
In an interesting back story, Gosamaru was falsely accused of plotting against the Shuri king by the northern Okinawan noble Amawari and committed suicide when the king sent forces to beseige the castle.
Commodore Perry, who stopped here on his way to Shimoda and Tokyo Bay in the 1850s was impressed with the castle's architecture and noted: "The material is limestone, and the masonry is admirable construction."
Nakagusuku Castle is 13km north east of Naha and close to Nakamura House.
If you are coming by public transport take Ryukyu bus #21 to Nakagusuku Castle from where the castle is a short walk.
There are fine views over the coastline and ocean from the castle ramparts.
503 Oshiro Kitanakagusuku
Tel: 098 935 5719
Hours: 8.30am-5pm; June-September 6pm close; Daily
Admission: 400 yen
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