Pre-reading Questions:1. Try to find Shuri Castle in the map below!!
Five hundred years of Ryukyuan history (12th ? 17th century) are represented by this group of sites and monuments. The ruins of the castles, on imposing elevated sites, are evidence for the social structure over much of that period, while the sacred sites provided mute testimony to the rare survival of an ancient form of religion into the modern age. The wide-ranging economic and cultural contacts of the Ryukyu Islands over that period gave rise to a unique culture.
Reading PassageShuri Castle was the location of the King of the Ryukyus, and the seat of central government, until 1879, when Okinawa was made a prefecture of Japan. In the early 13th century, Shumba-junki, King of Chuzan (central mountain kingdom), the son of Shunten (mentioned in the Legend of Makiminato), built the first castle on this hill. At first it was a subsidiary castle for the Chuzan kings, the main castle in Urasoe. In 1428, King Sho Hashi moved the government to Shuri, and expanded the grounds.
The castle grounds and buildings were completely destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the Japanese Army Command having established its headquarters there both above and below ground. A scale model of the original main castle building can be seen in the foyer of the Okinawa Prefectural Museum.
Until March of 1981, the National University of the Ryukyus was located here. The university has moved to a new expanded campus between Nishihara and Ginowan. Consequently, the original castle is now rebuilt, and two gates and much of the main wall have already been reconstructed by master stone masons from the outlying islands.
Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu was accepted as a cultural heritage from UNESCO in November 30th, 2000 to protect the culture and history of Ryukyu Kingdom which continued over 500 years.
* Language in Okinawa! They are called Ryukyu-go and please use them when you visit to Okinawa!
(^o^)General Information on Okinawa
Capital > Naha
Population > 1,283,000
Area > 2,266 sq. km.
Prefectural Flower > Coral tree blossom
Prefectural Wood > Ryukyu pine
Prefectural Bird > Noguchi gera
Main Events > Okinawa memorial day, Naha festival
Japanese Army Command
General information on Okinawa
Site on Unesco
Information on Shuri Castle
Pictures on Shuri Castle
byAtsuhiroHayakawa, Aoyama Gakuin College of Economics
© 2005 SHEJapan.com