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In Memory of our Dea
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
There's at least 12 fortresses and 2 major mausoleums in Okinawa from the period of 3 kingdoms period to the end of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

they are referred to as Gusuku グスク in Okinawan. It is a broad term, which includes fortress, castles, and fortress towns. So it differs from 城 and 砦 in Japanese, although Gusuku is usually written as 城 in Kanji. All Gusuku in Okinawa are located on the top of a hill or mountain

Most of them are on UNESCO's world heritage list.

Next to Shuri Castle, Katsuren is one of the bigger ones. Only the walls remain.
Katsuren is most well known for its former Chief, Amawari.. which is also the name of the play that Okinawan's always read about, watch shows on, etc.
Basically, during the Ryukyu Kingdom period.. Amawari was a powerful local chief who'se town was very successful in maritime trading. The King of the Ryukyu Kingdom suspected Amawari may be plotting to over throw him, so he built another "Gusuku" in modern day Nakagusuku, commanded by the chief, Gosamaru. However Amawari accused Gosamaru of being the one who wanted to over throw the king instead.. The King sent his army to attack Gosamaru's forces.. but Gosamaru refused to fight against the King and committed suicide. Later Amawari's plot was discovered and the King had Amawari killed.

Katsuren is originally believed to have looked like this

This fortress belonged to chief Gosamaru. It was built to monitor Katsuren's activity as the King suspected Amawari of wanting to take over the throne.
Like Katsuren, only its walls remain. Its smaller than Katsuren

Before the Ryukyu Kingdom unified all the Okinawan Islands. there was the 3 kingdom period, in which Okinawa Island (the largest one) had 3 kingdoms. Hokuzan, Chuzan, and Nanzan. Chuzan would go on to unite Okinawa Island, then later the other islands, creating the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Nanzan fell first, Hokuzan fell last. Hokuzan is located in the north in modern day Kunigami and Nago areas.. Its castle is Nakijin. Again only the walls remain

How it used to look like

Urasoe gusuku
Before Shuri was made the main castle and the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom, Urasoe was the center since the period of King Eiso. It has a long history, as it was the site where the city state of Chuzan defeated a small Mongol contingent. It was destroyed when the Satsuma of Kagoshima invaded the Ryukyus.
It is partially reconstructed today
It is also next to the Urasoe Yodore (see later)

Again in ruins, but the walls have been restored. During WWII, the Japanese military used the castle for artillery. When the US took over Okinawa, they turned it into a radar site.

This fortress was used by the chief of Agena, but was not used for very long

its inside all these trees

Probably the most famous of the fortress/castles, is Shuri (pronounced Suigusuku in Okinawan). The original one (in this black and white picture) was destroyed during WWII. it was rebuilt right after. The remains of the old one are located underneath the rebuild, which you can see if you enter the castle.

The original Shuri castle

Current one

outer walls

entrance into

shureimon, the famous second gate to Shuri. It is on the 2,000 yen bill

Commodore Perry visiting shureimon. He stop by Okinawa first before going to Japan

The Royal Mausoleum for the Ryukyu Kingdom. Most of the Ryukyu's kings and family are buried here. Although damaged during WWII, most of the tomb is intact

Urasoe Yodore
This is the Mausoleum for the kings and leaders of the Chuzan Kingdom (preceding Ryukyu Kingdom), it is next to the Urasoe castle. However Ryukyu King Sho Nei is also buried here because he was too ashamed to have himself buried in Tamaudun, as his period saw the fall of the Ryukyu Kingdom to the Satsuma of Kagoshima.

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