You Can Visit Castles in Japan

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Did you know that you can visit castles in Japan? I didn’t. At least not until I visited one when I was in Japan a few years ago. The one I visited was Nakagusuku on the island of Okinawa, but apparently there are around one hundred castles you can visit in Japan! And according to Wikipedia it is estimated that at one time there were over five thousand castles in Japan.

The entrance to the castle ruins
The entrance to the castle ruins

Nakagusuku castle

The Nakagusuku castle was built in the 1400s by the Ryukyu people (Okinawa did not become part of Japan until the late 1800s. Before that, it was part of the Ryukyu kingdom of islands.) Parts of the ruins have been fixed and reconstructed, but many parts of what you see today are what is left of the original construction.

These steps have borne the weight of many a person down through the centuries. You must be careful when walking down them, as they are disintegrating and dangerous.
These steps have borne the weight of many a person down through the centuries. You must be careful when walking down them, as they are disintegrating and dangerous.

Planning your visit

The ruins are well-preserved and definitely worth a visit when in Okinawa
The ruins are well-preserved and definitely worth a visit when in Okinawa

If you would like to visit Nakagusuku castle on your next trip to Okinawa, you can find directions here.  The entrance fee is 300 yen (less than $3.00). While not a large complex, you can still spend a few hours exploring here or just enjoying the wide expanse of lawn out behind the castle. The views out to the sea and ocean are amazing! Why not bring a picnic lunch and a book and make a day of it?

In one direction you can see the East China Sea and in the other direction you can see the Nakagusuku Bay and Pacific Ocean
In one direction you can see the East China Sea and in the other direction you can see the Nakagusuku Bay and Pacific Ocean
The sturdy walls around the castle are an impressive sight to see, and to walk on.
The sturdy walls around the castle are an impressive sight to see, and to walk on.
Watch out for snakes! We never saw any, but we did see these signs around the grounds.
Watch out for snakes! We never saw any, but we did see these signs around the grounds.

Bring your camera

Be sure to bring a camera along with you, as you will want to capture not only the sweeping vistas of the sea, but also the fantastic castle ruins. Nakagusuku is one of the best preserved castles in all of Japan, and you will definitely have the chance to get some good pictures here.

Steps lead down to a well that is full of water, and coins.
Steps lead down to a well that is full of water, and coins.
The castle is a fascinating place to explore
The castle is a fascinating place to explore
Everything is so green!
Everything is so green!

Out behind the castle you can also see the ruins of an unfinished hotel. Entrance to the grounds is forbidden, but the sight of graffiti on the walls lets you know that many people have made use of the building for various purposes. The building is also rumored to be haunted.

The Nakagusuku hotel (or Royal Hotel) is an unfinished and abandoned hotel behind Nakagusuku castle
The Nakagusuku hotel (or Royal Hotel) is an unfinished and abandoned hotel behind Nakagusuku castle
View of the hotel ruins through an arch of the castle ruins
View of the hotel ruins through an arch of the castle ruins
Wear good shoes when you visit!
Wear good shoes when you visit!

Have you been to Japan before? Did you make it over to Okinawa? Okinawa not only boasts castle ruins, but also a fantastic aquarium and a musical road. There are lots of things to see and do in Okinawa!

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