Region
Kyushu
Island
Ryukyu Islands
Largest City
Naha
Population
1,318,281

Shuri Castle

The castle of dragons.

Inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2000, the red Shuri Castle is a reminder of the flourishing Ryukyu Kingdom, when overseas trade networks linking China, Taiwan, and the Korean Peninsula helped create a unique melting pot that gives Okinawa its distinctly colorful vibe.

Believed to have been built in the 14th century, this independent island kingdom meshed its cultural influences to create Shuri Castle’s distinct architectural style. It’s a fierce look that stands out from your average tiered affair found on mainland Japan.

"Naha City. Traditional dance performers make their way down "Kokusai St." (International St.) during a local festival."

Today a tourist-highlighted area on the map of Naha, Shuri was once the kingdom capital; radiating as the center of Ryukyu until Okinawa became a prefecture of Japan in 1879.

Shuri Castle is the setting for the last American mission in Call of Duty: World at War.

Set high on a hill, the crimson castle is covered with dragons – the symbol of the Ryukyuan King. Spot them leering on the pillars and red-tiled roof before you head inside to the luxurious interior of the Seiden (Main Hall) at the top, that contains the King’s throne and crown, inlaid with gold foil. More dragons here; this time with elongated necks, standing upright in a pose distinct to this southernmost part of the Japanese archipelago.

Unfortunately, the buildings that remain at this iconic site are replicas of the original, left in ruins during the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. During the war, the underground of the castle served as the headquarters for the Japanese military until it was shelled for three days by an American Battleship. Reconstruction began in the late 1980s and Shuri Castle was reopened to the public in 1992.

The onsite museum is brimming with ancient artifacts, such as Ryukyuan classical instruments and traditional textiles and clothing. Once you reach the castle summit, you can make like a Ryukyu ruler and take in the natural beauty of your ocean kingdom, stretching all the way out to Taiwan.

Shuri Castle in Okinawa, Japan

Follow the route round through the castle grounds, heading under Shureimon Gate to the Nanden (South Hall) first.

You’ll need to set aside a couple of hours to tour the castle and surrounding sites, which include the Tamaudun Mausoleum, another UNSECO World Heritage.

Trivia

The Shuri Castle in Okinawa, Japan was a capital of Ryukyu kingdom.

Shuri Castle is the setting for the last American mission in Call of Duty: World at War.

At the end of the game, a scene unfolds where the Americans storm Shuri Castle. As air strikes and mortar shelling continue, the American soldiers battle with the Japanese troops until American air strikes destroy the last of the resistance. The mission is called Breaking Point.

Things To Know

Entrance Fees

Adult: ¥820/Child: ¥310

Opening Hours

April – June, October – December: 8:00 – 19:30/July – September: 8:00 – 20:30/December – March: 8:00 to 18:30. Closed the first Wednesday of July and the next day.

Daily Events

Head to the castle for 8:25 to watch the ceremonial “Opening of the Gate” held each morning. You can also catch traditional Ryukyu dancing three times a day during high season (check at the castle for details).

How To Get There

Address

Shurijo Castle, 1 Chome-2 Shurikinjōchō, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken 903-0815, Japan

By train

Take the Yui Rail (Okinawa Urban Monorail) to Shuri Station. From there, the Shuri Castle is approximately a 15-minute walk. Just follow the multilingual signposts.

By bus

Take the Shuri-Jokamachi Line bus No. 7 or 8 to Shurijo-mae bus stop. Alternatively, if you’re accessing the site from Naha’s city center (Kokusaidori), take the inner city bus line No. 1 to Shurijo-koen Iriguchi bus stop. Both bus stops are approximately 3-5 minutes away from the Shuri Castle’s main gates.

Where To Stay

Itomin YOU Home
  • Shuritoubarucho 1-26 Naha-Shi, Okinawa 903-0822
  • 8.9/10
  • 0.9 km
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DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Naha Shuri Castle
  • Shuriyamagawa-cho 1-132-1 903-8601
  • 8.1/10
  • 1.0 km
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Novotel Okinawa Naha
  • Matsukawa 40 Naha-Shi, Okinawa 902-0062
  • 8.7/10
  • 1.3 km
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A&B Omoromachi Station
  • Makabi 3-19-35 Blue Shell Seigo 2F Naha-Shi, Okinawa 902-0068
  • 8.6/10
  • 1.7 km
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