Hubby has sworn that he will not leave the house until summer is over. To those who have been and are in Okinawa, you will know what I mean. This island sizzles in summer! But weekends are meant to be outdoors so we braved the sun and drove to Katsuren Castle located on the east side of the island. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful backyards we have in Okinawa and probably my new favorite. A gusuku (fortresses of regional chieftains when Okinawa was an independent Ryukyu Kingdom) nestled on top of a hill in Uruma City, it is one of Okinawa’s proud UNESCO World Heritage Sites designated in 2000. It is also one of the nine Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu and a Designated Historical Monument (史跡Shiseki) by the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1972.
It is said that King Sho Taikyu of Ryukyu Kingdom was threatened by the power of an aji lord (ruler of a petty kingdom in the history of the Ryukyu Islands), Amawari of Katsuren, so he arranged a marriage between Amawari and his daughter, Momoto Fumiagari. However, the king learned that Amawari plotted to attack Shuri Castle and overthrow him as a king so he had his royal forces defeat and killed Amawari. There were no powerful lords that arose from Katsuren Castle thereafter.
The castle has 4 enclosures.
3rd Enclosure – Ceremonies and rituals took place in this enclosure.
2nd Enclosure – It is believed that a pillard building as grand as Shurijo Castle stood within, serving as a core of the castle and a public office of the region.
1st Enclosure – It is speculated as a repository for valuables.
There are numerous gods being worshipped in ancient Okinawa, believed to protect the island and the Okinawans in daily life. There are some of these altars at Katsuren to protect the Aji and the castle itself.
FROM THE TOP
And the reward after the climb? A beautiful panorama view from the top!