Wednesday, June 18, 2014

South Coast Castles of Okinawa Island -Nostalgic ruins of small castles of mythical era-

South Coast Castles of Okinawa Island

-Nostalgic ruins of small castles in mythical era-

Along with south coast of Okinawa island there are many small castles, and this area is called as “Gusuku road” (Castle road). They were built in Gusuku era (12th century to 13th cemtury), age of small local lords before Sanzan era (period of three kingdoms) of 14th century. Compared with famous Okinawa castles built in Sanzan era such as Nakagusuku castle or Nakijin castle, these castle are all small and primitive, and more broken. But the sight of broken primitive castle facing blue ocean evokes nostalgic feeling, and along with mythical legend these castles also have mysterious atmosphere.

Gushikawa Castle / Gushikawa Gusuku

-Castle protruding blue ocean-


Gushikawa castle / Gushikawa Gusuku (具志川城) is located on the cliff at west edge of south coast area. Site of castle is like a cape protduging into sea, and main gate, outer area and inner area continue from the root of the site. Precise builder and date of construction is unknown, but it is said that a lord of Kume island was expelled from his island and came to here, and built his castle here. Apart from truthness of this story, this castle is said to resemble to Gusikawa castle in Kume island.

Itokazu Castle / Itokazu Gusuku

-Winding wall separates hill-


Itokazu castle / Itokazu Gusuku (糸数城) is located on the small hill in Nanjyo city, east half of south coast area. As the back side of the castle is steep cliff, stone wall was built at the neck of hill only to separate front side of the castle from outside area. 

Stone wall winding affected by original terrain continues about 200 meter. Small peak at north end is used as a watching place, and at south half there is a projection also used as lookout place. At the center of the wall there exist a main gate, built by well shaped stones only seen at here. 

It is said that Itokazu castle was built at the beggining of 14th century by the lord of Tamagusuku castle to defend westward.

Tamagusuku Castle /Tamagusuku

-Sacred place at the top of the hill-


Tamagusuku Castle (玉城城) is located on a hill at about 2 km east of Itokazu castle. The site of the castle is the center of tableland occupies most part of east half of south coast area.

Tamagusuku castle originally consisted of three layers, but lower two layers were lost and only hilltop area remains. At the entrance of hilltop area there is a large stone arch built by hollowing natural rock. Inside the hilltop area there is a place to enshrine local god.

Precise year of construction is unknown but it is said as the oldest castle in Okinawa. Local folklore says this castle was built by descendant of Amamikiyo, the origin god of Okinawa island.

Chinen Castle /Chinen Gusuku

-Combination of old castle and new castle-


Chinen castle / Chinen Gusuku (知念城) is located at 5 km east of Tamagusuku castle, at the same tableland of Itokazu castle and Tamagusuku castle. 

Chinen castle consist of old castle called as "Ko Gusuku" and new castle named "Mi Gusuku". Old castle is located at the top of hill and is said to be built at 13th century. New castle locates at lower terrace and was built at second half of 15th century, used as a residence of local magistrate. Outside of the castle there is a place called "Noro dormitory", used as a house for shrine maidens.

Related Castles

Nakagusuku Castle -Last and strongest medieval fortress in Okinawa-
Nakijin Castle -Magnificent castle of northern kingdom of Okinawa island-

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