Nakagusuku Castle, Okinawa. ©
Attractions, Okinawa

Nakagusuku Castle Ruins

Nakagusuku Castle ruins (中城城) are the remains of an important 15th century castle of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The ruins are beautifully located with great views, but they are also an important part of Ryukyu history, and is therefor also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Located on top of a ridge, which stretches along the bottom half of Okinawa Honto‘s eastern coast, the once impressive and fortified Nakagusuku Castle was constructed in the early 1400’s by lords of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The castle was expanded over the years. In 1440 the legendary commander Gosamaru moved from Zakimi Castle to Nakagusuku Castle on orders of the king, with the purpose of keeping an eye on another Lord named Amawari who resided in Katsuren Castle just 10km from Nakagusuku Castle. Amawari’s power and wealth was growing, and posing a potential thread to the king. In 1458 however, Amawari informed the king that Gosamaru planned to revolt against the kingdom, and so the kings army, lead by Amawari, went on to attack Nakagusuku Castle. It is said that Gosamaru knew that the attack was coming, and so preventively killed himself during a moon viewing banquet.

Soon after the attack on Nakagusuku Castle, and the death of the legendary Gosamaru, lord Amawari was executed. Lengend has it, that a written note was found in the mouth of the dead Gosamaru, revealing the duplicity of Amawari. However, it doesn’t seem unlikely that Gosamaru and Amawari were purposely used against each other by the king, with the purpose of eliminating both of them.

Nakagusuku Castle in modern times

Through the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s, the remains of Nakagusuku Castle have been used for administrative purposes, and housed a school. At the time it was not uncommon to use the old castles for schools and city offices.

In 1945, parts of the castle were destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa, but just a few years later plans were initiate to transform the castle ruins into an official park. During the 1950’s, shops, restaurants, play grounds and bull fighting rings were constructed by the castle, making it a local attraction.

Today, the Nakagusuku Castle Ruins can be explored by foot. The ruins a beautiful, and beautifully located atop a high ridge overlooking the southern part of the island. Large parts of the fortified walls remain today, and give a great impression of the scale and strength of the castle which was built here around 600 years ago.

The castle is listed as UNESCO world heritage, through the list UNESCO Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, together with Zakimi Castle, Tamaudun Royal Mausoleum and other historic Ryukyu sites.

Planning your visit

Hours8:30 – 17:00 (oct-feb)
Last admission 30 minutes before closing
Entrance feeAdult: ¥400
Highschool students: ¥300
Elementary school: ¥200
Reduced rates for large groups
AccommodationFind hotels near Nakagusuku Castle Ruins

Getting there

By car: from Naha, catch the E58 express way north for 5-10 minutes. Take the exit Kitanakagusuku towards 沖縄県道29号 and Kitanakagusuku. From here there are signs pointing you towards Nakagusuku-jo.

By bus: from Naha Bus Terminal, take bus no 30 to the stop Nakagusuku Shogakko-mae (中城小学校前). From there, it is a 30 minute uphill walk to the castle entrance. The bus ride takes between 60 and 75 minutes depending on when you catch it.

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