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“Shikina Royal Garden” Second Residence of Ryukyu Royal Family Known as a World Heritage Site
post : 2014.07.29 18:00
The Shikina Royal Garden is the largest second residence of the Ryukyu royal family and was registered as a World Heritage site in 2000.
The Shikina Royal Garden was constructed at the end of the 18th century. (The present buildings have been reconstructed.)
The large grounds have a circular garden to allow guests to enjoy changing scenery while walking around the pond. It was used as a favorite holiday getaway for the royal family and for entertaining Chinese guests called “sappoushi”(investiture envoy).
First, going through the entrance gate, you will be surprised to find a tranquil world through woodlands, away from the hustle and bustle
Gajumaru (banyan) trees stretch their limbs to the sky in comfort and develop their deep roots into the earth.
Hearing the birds singing pleasantly, you will enjoy the sun filtering through the lush green.
The sceneries of the Ryukyu Kingdom period cover the land as if time stopped only there.
After entering the Shikina Royal Garden, you will immediately find the “guardhouse” on the left.
Then, following the route and passing the larger main gate, you will walk onto a beautiful winding stone pavement.
On sides of the path, akagi (bishop wood), gajumaru (banyan), Ryukyu matsu (Ryukyu pine) trees have grown.
The tree tunnel extends down the pavement, which makes you wonder if kijimuna (spirit of the forest which is believed to live in the old gajumaru tree) comes out of somewhere.
Passing through the gentle downward curve, you feel excited about what is waiting for you ahead.
In the next moment, this fantastic landscape will come into your sight.
It is a “stroll garden” surrounded by beautiful greenery.
A walking path was built around the pond, so you can enjoy changing scenery as you stroll around it.
When the pond is seen from the air, it looks like an out of shape Chinese character “心,” which is why, it is called “Shin (心) Ji (Chinese character), Ike (Pond).
A red-tiled roof building on the left in the photo is Udun, a second residence of Ryukyu royal family. It includes 15 rooms, and was used to entertain royal family members and Chinese investiture envoys.
As you can enter the Udun, you can go around the palace including No.1 Room (shown on the above picture), where only royal family and Chinese investiture envoys were allowed to enter, and a kitchen (shown on the below photo). You can catch a glimpse of how life was like in those days.
By the pond is the Ikutoku-sen Spring, the water from which is one of the water sources for the pond.
It is a quite a sight to see a graceful curved line of stone walls, constructed with the unique Ryukyuan masonry technique called “aikata-zumi” (with which, stones are processed into different shapes in order that the stones fit into each other).
Two stone bridges were built for people to enjoy the view from the center of the pond. The two bridges, large and small, are Chinese style, arched bridges made of Ryukyu limestone.
The small hexagonal rest house “Rokkaku-do” is also in a Chinese style.
The hexagonal gazebo built on the floating island in the pond has a unique shaped roof and black-colored tiles, which have a flavor of China.
Leaving the pond and climbing up the slope, you will reach the Kanko-dai observatory platform.
The gazebo overlooks the entire southern part of Okinawa, and was designed to be where the ocean cannot be seen. It is said that Chinese envoys could see that “Ryukyu is so large that we cannot see the ocean from here.”
Just by the Kanko-dai is a banana garden.
Now it was just a small area but the whole wider area used to be covered with banana trees in those days.
Behind the guardhouse is an orchard, where shikuwasa (Citrus depressa Hayata or Okinawan lime) and guava trees bear fruit.
Strolling around the Shikina Royal Garden, you can observe flora special to Ryukyu as well as Chinese-style architecture, by which the Ryukyu Kingdom was influenced.
Spectacular Shuri Castle is also a must-see spot, but you cannot miss the Shikina Royal Garden to learn about the culture of Ryukyu.
Walking around the quaint, tasteful garden, would you like to think of the ancient kingdom?
Shikina Royal Garden
Address: 421‐7, Maji, Naha City
Hours: 9:00 to 17:30 （9:00 to 17:00 for October to March）
Closed on Wednesdays (If it falls on a holiday or Memorial Day, it is closed on the following day.)
Admission 400 yen for Adult, 200 yean for Child (Elementary School Student to Junior High Scool Student)
Okinawa CLIP Editorial Department (Text by Akiko Ono, Photo by Taiki Gushiken)