Built in the early 1200s, sacked in the 1600s, and almost completely destroyed during the attacks of World War II, the final resting place of the Ryukyu King Eiso and his two successors now sits peacefully in a quiet residential area amidst the green hills of Urasoe.
While not nearly as majestic as Okinawa’s bigger and more well known gusuku, such as Katsuren or Nakagusuku castles, it is interesting to note that Urasoe was once the capital city before it was moved to Shuri, and that in the 14th century Urasoe Castle was actually the largest on island. In fact, parts of the castle were taken in the 16th century to be used in the construction of Shuri Castle.
The mausoleum of the kings, called yodore in Okinawan language, lies to the north of the castle grounds. The tombs were originally built in a cave, but that cave is now fenced off, preventing you from actually taking a peek at the tombs inside. You can, however, get a nice view of the ocean and the city from the top.
It won’t take long to walk around the castle grounds and visit the mausoleum, and chances are you’ll have the place all to yourself as it is a bit off the tourist trail. But be warned there are a lot of steps to get to the top, and it is not stroller or wheelchair accessible.
The grounds themselves are free to enter, but there is a small museum at the parking lot which costs a mere 100¥ to enter, and just 50¥ for children.
MONDAY – SUNDAY 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
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Urasoe Castle Ruins