nakagusuku castle ruins

Nakagusuku-jo Site (Nakagusuku Castle Ruins)


Explore the ruins of Nakagusuku and the legacy of one of the Ryukyu Kingdom’s greatest commanders

The construction of Nakagusuku Castle was overseen by legendary commander and castle builder Gosamaru, a loyal servant to King Sho Taikyu. The castle was built to defend against attacks from the east by Lord Amawari of Katsuren Castle, who had ambitions to take control of the throne of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Gosamaru’s last stand

nakagusuku castle ruins structure

After the initial construction work, King Sho Taikyu had Gosamaru establish himself at Nakagusuku Castle to keep Lord Amawari of Katsuren Castle in check. In a turn of fate some years later, Gosamaru was suspected of treason and the king ordered Amawari to lead an attack on Nakagusuku. The attack was met with little resistance, and Gosamaru took his own life. The history books say that Gosamaru was loyal to the king until the very end, choosing to take his own life rather than oppose him. One theory is that Amawari implicated Gosamaru, though he was also killed in conflict with the throne shortly after.

Characteristics of the castle

nakagusuku castle ruins masonry

Nakagusuku Castle was constructed in the renkakushiki-style, where the main fortress (or honmaru) is arranged side by side with the castle’s second circle (or ninomaru) to increase the depth of the castle area. It consists of six enclosures that were built in phases and used different masonry techniques. The enclosures were constructed using nozurazumi, nunozumi, and aikatazumi techniques.

Nozurazumi is a technique where natural stones and rocks are laid atop one another. This technique can be seen at the south enclosure. The nunozumi technique is one where cubical stones of approximately the same size are placed on top of one another to create uniform layers. Both the first and second enclosures were made using this technique. The aikatazumi technique uses processed stones of different shapes that are fitted together to form a smooth wall. This technique is the most advanced, and is visible at both the third and north enclosures, which are believed to have been constructed by Gosamaru.

Because Nakagusuku Castle suffered relatively little damage during WWII, certain original features remain. That makes it quite simple to track the transition of the masonry of the different enclosures through the years. To do this, start from the main enclosure and work outwards.

These days, several events are hosted at the castle site throughout the year. From December through January, visitors can enjoy traditional performances while viewing the vivid yellow flowers of the leopard plant in full bloom at the Tsuwabaki Matsuri. The site is also a popular location to watch the first sunrise of the New Year, because of its hilltop location facing the sea. Visitors can enjoy a tour of the castle with volunteer guides (*only in Japanese). Reservations must be made in advance, and tours are conducted in Japanese.

Transportation information
The Nakagusuku-jo Site can be reached by bus or car. Take a bus from Naha Bus Terminal to Nakagusuku Shogakko-mae. It takes about 50 minutes. From there, it is about a 30-minute walk (or a five-minute taxi) to the entrance. Alternatively, visitors can use the Gusuku Megurin shuttle service.
Contact information
Nakagusuku-jo Site (Nakagusuku Castle Ruins)
503 Oogusuku, Kitanakagusuku Village, Nakagami District, Okinawa Prefecture
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