Shuri-jo Site (Shurijo Castle Park)
The political and cultural center of the Ryukyu Kingdom is a must-visit for any trip to Okinawa
For approximately 450 years, Shurijo Castle was the center of politics, diplomacy, and culture of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Shurijo Castle is divided into three areas: a ceremonial area where rituals and prayers were conducted; a residential area for the royal family called the Ouchibara, and a central administrative area that contains the Seiden main hall. The architecture of the buildings of Shurijo Castle incorporate both Chinese and Japanese construction techniques.
The fiery history of Shurijo Castle
Shurijo Castle has burned down many times in its lengthy history. It burned down for the first time only 24 years after the Ryukyu Kingdom was established by the first Ryukyu King, Sho Hashi (1372–1439). After his death, there were several short-term rulers. However, conflict broke out over who would be the sixth ruler of the kingdom; Shiro, the son of the fifth king, or Furi, the sixth son of the first king. In the ensuing conflict, Shurijo Castle burned down, and both would-be kings were killed. As a result, Sho Taikyu, the seventh son of Sho Hashi, became the sixth king, and began rebuilding work.
Shurijo Castle burned down a total of three times during the Ryukyu Kingdom era, and was heavily damaged after the islands of the kingdom were incorporated into Japan as Okinawa Prefecture. The castle burned down again during WWII, but was restored in 1992.
In 2000, the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, which includes Shurijo Castle, earned UNESCO World Heritage status. Although areas of Shurijo Castle continue to be restored and opened to the public, another terrible fire in October 2019 resulted in the complete destruction of the Seiden main hall, and other important castle buildings. Restoration work is underway; you can learn more about it here.
How Shurijo has been restored
The problem faced when restoring Shurijo Castle is how to authentically recreate the buildings when virtually all resources, including photos and drawings of the castle, have been destroyed by fire. The restoration of the castle prior to the fire in 2019, was a large-scale effort that involved gathering information from members of the community with detailed knowledge of the castle pre-WWII. Details gathered through interviews and drawings of the Seiden from 1768 informed the restoration work and made it possible to restore many parts of the castle.
Many important events take place at Shurijo Castle Park throughout the year. Highlights include the Shurijo Castle Festival in autumn, which features traditional entertainment, a parade, and a ceremony. At New Year, formal celebrations are conducted in the grounds. A ceremony (ukeejo) announcing the opening of the park is also held each morning outside the Houshinmon Gate, five minutes before the park opens.
For updates on the status of reconstruction efforts of Shurijo Castle, and the facilities in Shurijo Castle Park, check here.
- Transportation information
Shurijo Castle can be conveniently accessed by bus and Yui Rail. The nearest Yui Rail station is Shuri Station; the castle is about 15 minutes from the station by foot. There are several bus routes that include Shurijo Castle. Find more information at
Transport Navi Okinawa.
- Contact information
Shurijo Castle Park1-2 Kinjocho Shuri, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture098-886-2020