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World Heritage Site・Enjoying walking around Shuri Castle
post : 2019.02.26 06:00
Recognized as a World Heritage Site, Shuri Castle is the most popular tourist attraction in Naha. Although many may have visited Shuri Castle once, by using this city walking guide you will most likely have a much more fun and interesting experience. Your impression of Shuri Castle will surely change by experiencing this walking course!
With many repeat customers, the city-walking guide, called the Naha Machi maai, was created by the Naha City Tourist Information Center. With over 70 different walking courses to choose from, they recommend the newest Shuri Castle course, translated as “The Story of Shuri Castle ～ View from the Front and Back Stages on Foot.～” (Tickets ￥1000 adult + ￥820 admission fee into Shuri Castle)
Although originally there was a Shuri Castle walking course offered in December 2018, an updated Shuri Castle course has been created. It is said that the course is enjoyable even for those who have visited Shuri Castle on multiple occasions. The new Shuri Castle walking plan has increased its duration from 90 minutes to 100. So, what exactly has changed in the new course?
Noriko Yonemura, the project leader for Naha Machi maai explains “Different from a traditional course at Shuri Castle, the new course has focused on looking at the front and back stages of the castle. For example, there are worlds for men and worlds for females. Inside Shuri Castle you will find areas that govern politics, residence areas and sanctuaries. It is in these areas where we may share some mysterious stories.”
You will find the main hall, Seiden, located in the front while in the back of the castle, you will not only find the Ouchibara or Uu-chibaru (residential areas), but also the Kyou no uchi (sanctuary), which has been added to the new walking course. Kyou no uchi can be found if you walk towards the Houshinmon (main red entrance) and go through the arches of Sekimo (stoned gate) on the right hand side. It is said that Kyou no uchi is where the goddess` performed religious services by praying for the prosperity and good harvest for the kingdom. With the area covered with many trees capable of becoming a Yorishio, (used in religious ceremonies to call the kami for worship), perhaps you can feel a different kind of atmosphere in the air.
At Kyou no uchi- not only is it a sacred atmosphere, you can also find an observation tower overlooking Naha city, the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It's quite a comfortable place.
Now we head to the Seiden (main hall) of Shuri Castle. After a total construction time of 2 years and 3 months, a freshly painted and lacquer coated Shuri Castle was completed last month. Although many may think that the castle itself is the World Heritage Site, it is actually the remnants of the old castle that is found underneath the Seiden that is considered the World Heritage Site. You may see the remnants of the old castle if you go inside the Seiden.
Along with the remnants found underneath the Seiden (main hall), parts of the castle wall are also recognized as a World Heritage Site. The stones that form the walls are said to be either the Aikata seki (remains of the old Shuri Castle) or Nuno tzumi (restored parts of the walls).
There are also interesting shaped stone arrangements like this heart shaped one embedded in the ground. If you are lucky you may find them on your walk too!
Lastly, once you arrive at the Shukujunmon (gate) in the Ouchi bara (residential area), which is located behind the Seiden (main hall), you will be introduced to a Ryuka (traditional Okinawan poem) written by the women who resided in the area.
Although I have been to Shuri Castle on several occasions, I realized that I have passed places by and failed to notice the deep history and stories involved. By receiving detailed explanations of where exactly the World Heritage Sites are located I was able to experience several new findings.
The city-walking guide, Naha machi maai, is not only for first timers to Shuri Castle, but I highly recommend the course for those who wish to learn even more about Shuri castle!
Naha machi maai Shuri jou mono gatari ～ Omote butai・ura butai wo mite aruku～ translated as “The Story of Shuri castle ～Viewed from the Front and Back Stages on Foot.～”
Fee: Adults-￥1000 + 820 Admission fee into Shuri Castle
Okinawa Clip Photowriter Hiroshi Kuwamura