Nakijin Castle (Ruins)
CONTRIBUTED BY DASHA GARIEPY
Are you eager to try the restaurant from Kelly’s last post, but don’t want to drive all-the-way-to-Nago “just” for that? Are you looking for something to do around Nago that doesn’t involve pineapples, citrus fruits, or fish tanks? Then read on, because hiking around Nakijin Castle Ruins and its related Museum is definitely worth the trip!
The adventure begins at the visitor’s center, part of a little cultural strip mall type place across the street from the actual castle, where you can buy souvenirs, food, local hand crafts and of course entrance tickets. While I didn’t get a picture of the visitors center, here’s one of a cool little booth outside the main castle gate:
Stepping through the main gate feels like stepping back in time. I envisioned a royal procession walking down the loooooong paved pathway lined with cherry trees (this is what they look like when they are not in bloom but imagine them bursting with color):
…and beautiful mountains on the other. The walls reminded me of the Great Wall of China. (Okay, they reallyreminded me of the scene from Mulan when the Huns attack. I was expecting Shan Yu to show up any moment!)
This Shishi is guarding the goods.
I say hands-on because many of the artifacts, like the excavated pots below, are just sitting out in the open. This is great for some people, but a potential nightmare if you have “investigative” little ones, or are gracefully-challenged. I can’t tell you how many of these things I knocked into…
More artifacts on display:
Another unique room has a time-line which runs around the walls, with corresponding piles of papers/documents for each year. There are tables in the middle of the room, where patrons can examine any of the documents.
February is a great month to visit the castle and museum. To prove the old adage that Great Minds Think Alike, Bill Charles features this very place in this weeks issue of Japan update:
“The tempo picks up this weekend at Nakijin Castle, the second largest castle on Okinawa, where the Cherry Blossom Festival began last Friday. It runs through February 8th. As with Nago Castle, the view from Nakijin, which is on the World Heritage Register, is breathtaking with the contrasts of the castle ruins, cherry blossoms, the lush green forest and the view of the East China Sea.
Nakijin’s festivities Saturday include Ryukyu classical music and dance, rolling on into Eisaa and traditional Okinawa dance, drum dances and choral music through February 8th. Organizers are offering free cherry tea throughout the festival.”
Thanks, Bill, I couldn’t have said it better myself!
My Directions*: 58 North thru Nago to 84. You’ll see signs for other routes to Nakijin and the castle, but the easiest (perhaps not fastest… er, is “fastest” a word?…) is to stay on 84, and just before Ocean Expo turn right on Highway 449 – you’re only two kilometers away. Follow the signs from there.
4874 Imadomari, Nakijin Village
*Here’s a question for experienced Nago-drivers: Does 449 intersect with 58? I’ve wondered if we can by-pass the whole 58-thru-Nago-to-84 leg of this route and just take 449? I keep forgetting to try it!