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Behold the brilliant colors and stylish structure of the Ryukyu architecture

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Shurijo Castle Seiden

Shurijo Castle Seiden

Shurijo Castle functioned as the central structure of Ryukyu Kingdom over a period of approximately 500 years, and was restored in 1992.

Karahafu Tsuma-kazari, the embellishment of gable pediments

Karahafu Tsuma-kazari, the embellishment of gable pediments

At the center of the upper front wall called tsuma are Buddhist jewels called Kaenhoju and Ohkaerumata, and on both sides are engravings of Golden Dragons and clouds of zuiun.

The Shishi and the Golden Dragon

The Shishi and the Golden Dragon

The Seiden is decorated with a wide variety of carved art, and the wooden engravings show highly sophisticated techniques of the artisans. It is visible in the relief carvings of the Shishi and Golden Dragon on the kokabe wall.

Dragon Pillars (Ungyou and Agyou)

Dragon Pillars (Ungyou and Agyou)

Dragons are visible throughout the Shurijo Castle, as it symbolized the king, and many are in pairs.

Botan Karakusa

Botan Karakusa

Botan, or peony flower is engraved at the center of the kokabe wall of on the sides are karakusa leaf motifs.

Seiden Dai-Ryu Chu, Great Dragon Pillar (Ungyou)

Seiden Dai-Ryu Chu, Great Dragon Pillar (Ungyou)

Height: 4.1m (Dragon Pillar: 3.1m, Base: 1m)
Base: Ryukyu Limestone
Material: Fine Sandstone (From Yonaguni Island)

Seiden Dai-Ryu Chu, Great Dragon Pillar (Agyou)

Seiden Dai-Ryu Chu, Great Dragon Pillar (Agyou)

Inside the Seiden

Second Floor

Inside the Seiden

※The king's seat is restored from pictures and references of the seat used by King Sho Shin, who ruled from 1477 to 1526.

Ufugui

This area was for the daily use by the queen and high-ranking maids.

Osenmikocha

Behind the Usasuka are small rooms called the West Mikocha and the Osenmikocha. The Osenmikocha is said to be an area where every morning, the king and his female attendants would pray for peace and security of the kingdom and prosperity of the royal descendants.

Usasuka

Various ceremonies and celebrations were held here in front of the king's throne. The high ceilings signify the king’s status. In front of the Usasuka was a small room facing the garden, where the king sat in his seat to receive and observe his officials lined in the garden during New Year's ceremonies and other events.

First Floor

Shichagui, the first floor of the Seiden

Shichagui, the first floor of the Seiden

The first floor is called Shichagui, and was an area where the King himself conducted his political affairs and ceremonies.

Usasuka (on the first floor fo the Seiden)

Usasuka (on the first floor fo the Seiden)

The splendidly decorated area in the center is called the Usauka, where the King presided over the political and ceremonial activities.
At the Hirausasuka on both sides of the King's throne, were where his child and grandchild sat.

Nanden and Bandokoro

The Japanese Influences of Shurijo Castle

Nanden

Nanden

Nanden was where various ceremonies were held throughout the year, and was the place to entertain the officials of the Satsuma Clan.

Bandokoro

Bandokoro

Bandokoro was where the visitors to Shurijo Castle and messages to the King were received. Presently, various fine arts from the Dynasty era are displayed here at the Bandokoro and Nanden.

The Skills that Supported the Cultures of the Dynasty

The Ryukyu Kingdom’s arts and crafts used as tributes to the Chinese emperor, Japan, and the Satuma clan are researched, collected and exhibited here.

Maru-bitsu, a round lacquerware chest with gold inlay of the Chinese phoenix, the mythical bird

Maru-bitsu, a round lacquerware chest with gold inlay of the Chinese phoenix, the mythical bird

Created between the 15th and 16th centuries.
The kings of the Ryukyu posted Priestesses(Noro) to each area within the Kingdom to lead the rituals of the land. The maru-bitsu was a gift from the Royal government to the Noro, and use as a container to hold the accessories and personal ornaments of the Noro.

Obon Tray, with Mother-Pearl Dragon

Obon Tray, with Mother-Pearl Dragon

Created in the 18th century.
These large lacquerware trays were mostly made as tributary gifts to China. The five-clawed dragon depicted on the tray symbolized the Chinese emperor.

Bingata garments adorned with Japanese cranes and flora

Bingata garments adorned with Japanese cranes and flora

Created at the end of the 19th century.
During the time of the Ryukyu Dynasty, Bingata was worn by noble class women and boys before adulthood, and were worn as costumes for traditional dances.

Shoin and Sasunoma and its Garden

The king’s study and business room and the prince’s waiting room

Shoin and Sasunoma and its Garden
Shoin

Shoin

Shoin was where the king conducted his daily business, and his aides were posted nearby. Chinese envoys, the Sapposhi, sent by the Chinese emperor, and the officials of the Satsuma residing in Naha were invited here to be entertained.

Sasunoma

Sasunoma

Sasunoma functioned as a waiting room for the Princes, where various officials and guests were welcomed for informal talks.
Presently Shurijo castle also provides a service to experience the traditional confectionery of the Ryukyu dynasty while viewing the garden.

The Restored Garden

The Restored Garden

The garden of Shoin and Sasunoma which are adjacent to each other, is the only elaborate Garden within the Shurijo Castle grounds. The Sapposhi who were invited to the Shoin enjoyed poetry about the garden’s beauty. It was added as a national Place of Scenic Beauty on July 23, 2009.

Kugani-udun, Yuinchi, Kinju-tsumesho, Okushoin

Kugani-udun / Yuinchi

Kugani-udun / Yuinchi

The Kugani-udun was the complex where the king, his queen and his mother resided. There was a living room and bedrooms on the second floor. Although it is unknown when the complex was built, a building similar to Kugani-udun was mentioned in the Shurijo Castle restoration records of 1671. It is connected to the Seiden, Niike-udun and Kinju-tsumesho on the second floor.
The Yuinchi is a long and narrow building that stretches east to west and is connected to the Kugani-udun. This is where meals for the king and family were prepared by the staff called Odaijo-hissha, Hocho, Agama, and so on.

Kinju-tsumesho

Kinju-tsumesho

The Kinju-tsumesho was the location in which approximately 20 government officials such as the leading aide and his subordinate, the secretary and other aides worked.
These officials accompanied the king as he conducted his daily activities, or at the Ouchibara.
The building is at the east side of the Nanden, and is connected to the Nanden and Kugani-udun, etc. Inside of it was a small tea room called the Suzuhiki and another tea room called the Ochani-tsume.
When the complex was constructed is unknown.

Okushoin

Okushoin

The Okushoin is a space where the king took rest during his duties. It used to be connected on the north side to the Kinju-tsumesho and on the west side to the Omonoatai-tsumesho, and adjacent to it on the east side was the Kawarume-utaki, with a garden on the south side.

Hokuden

The central facility for political affairs and a room for entertainment for the Sapposhi

Hokuden

The Hokuden functioned as the Hyojosho, handling important judicial matters and state of affairs as the central headquarters.
This area was also used to welcome and entertain the Sapposhi, the Chinese envoys.

Sapposhi

Sapposhi

Sapposhi, or the Chinese envoys, attended the ceremonies that were held to acknowledge the new Ryukyu king to the throne.

[Sappo Emaki-zu, Picture Scroll] [Collection from the Okinawa Prefectural Museum]

Exhibition Area

Exhibition Area

Depicted inside the display is the procession of the Sapposhi, envoy dispatched by the Chinese emperor. You will also find panel displays providing details on the structure of the castle and the political framework and administration of the kingdom.

Video Area

Video Area

Our video presentation provides an easy-to-understand explanation for our visitors to learn about the process of restoration, its plans and the structural characteristics of the Seiden, the largest wooden structure within the Shurijo Castle grounds. Come for a viewing to better understand what is considered as the symbol of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Shop and Rest Area

Shop and Rest Area

A shop and rest area are located within the Hokuden. Take a break as you come to the close of your tour of Shurijo Castle. You will find great memorabilia to make your visit to Shurijo Castle an unforgettable experience.

Observation Square

Observation Square

The Observation Square provides a fantastic view of the Castle grounds and the surrounding sites of Kankaimon gate, Kyukeimon gate, the Ruins of Enkakuji temple,

Shukujunmon gate

Shukujunmon gate

Shukujunmon gate is the outer gate that leads to an area known as Ouchibara, which was a private space for the king and his family. It was also known as “Mimono Ujo” or “Unaka Ujo.” The Shukujunmon gate was combined of three different Japanese styles; Yaguramon gate style, Irimoya-zukuri style and Hongawarabuki style.

Uekimon gate

Uekimon gate

This gate directly leads to the Kankaimon gate and Kyukeimon gate to Shukujunmon gate; at that time, one passed through the Shukujunmon into the Ouchibara. It is said to be built in the 15th century and is also called the Yosufichi-Ujo.

Kyukeimon gate

Kyukeimon gate

Outside of the Shurijo Castle grounds, located on the north side is this side gate, which was mostly used by women. It is an arched stone gate and on the top is a tower with wooden roof tiles.

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