CONTRIBUTED BY JENNIFER MARTINEZ
After our trip to Cape Zanpa Lighthouse, my family and I saw a small sign to Zakimi Castle Ruins — 1.6km. We were on our way home, but thought why not finsh the day strong? If we didn’t make it to the castle that day we may never have made it. One thing I’ve noticed after 2 years of living in Okinawa is how easy I can still get lost, find a great place, forget how I got there, and never find the spot again! Especially if it’s a location that isn’t on the maps.
Zakimi Castle was an amazing site all around. We saw people in kimonos who seemed happy to allow me to take their photograph. The location had a true feeling of calm. It was like an old village, a small reminder of what Okinawa may have been in ancient times. There was no city view for the majority of the walk through the castle grounds which allowed us to really absorb the natural vibe.
The kids enjoyed playing in a small hut-type gazebo, running up the wide staircase and down the old roads between the trees. There was also a beautiful log bench to sit down and rest. I recommend this site to those who enjoy a piece of Japanese history or anyone in need of a moment of relaxation.
Zakimi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for good reason. It is full of historical goodness and worth studying up on. The visitor center is in the building that sits in the parking lot. It doubles as the Yomitan Village History Folklore Museum. We did not go in, but I hear it has all the information you need and can answer any questions you may have. It has over 400,000 items on display. We will be going back soon to discover it for ourselves. It costs 200yen to enter the museum. The information is in the link below. There is an abundance of information online if you’re interested in finding out more about Zakimi Castle Ruins history here are a few resources to get you started:
Gusuku Sites of Ryukyu Kingdom
Yomitan Village History Folklore Museum
Directions: Take Highway 58 north towards Nago. Keep left and continue through Kadena Circle. Turn left onto Route 12 towards Zakimi Castle Ruins. Follow the road for 1.7 kilometers, and then turn right up a steep hill. Turn right into the parking lot.
Hours: Open 24 Hrs a day
Yomitan Village History Folklore Museum
Admission: 200 yen
Open hours: 9am-5:00pm Closed days: Mondays and Japanese Holidays
Address: 708-6 Zakimi, Yomitan-son, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa Phone 098-958-3141
WOW, back in the later half of the 1960s I was on a Nike missile site on the rise above the castle walls and was one of the few soldiers who went outside our compound to explore the entrance to the ruins of the castle. In addition to our site, I recall finding old concrete rings that we thought were Japanese artillery bases. It is difficult to believe this is the same place. Also, if anyone has a chance, I would like to try and contact an old friend I explored caves with, Yoshio Arakaki, his father was priest at the Futema shrine/cave. Okinawa is the one place in this world I hope to return to one day. It would be good to see Yoshio again and see how much things have changed on Okinawa.
Took my 1 year old and almost 4 year old here today. Both of them loved rolling down the hills inside the castle ruins. We were the only people there. Looks like they light it up at night. We went on the way back from Zampa Cape and found it easily with the signs. Thanks for the tip
Yes had we known it was a museum that day we would have gone in. We stumbled upon it by accident really… and when we tried to go back I got lost! But I went by memory instead of following directions thinking how hard can it be to get back to a place we’ve already been!
We visited this site last weekend, and it was lovely. There is a spectacular view from the castle walls. The history museum has a small but interesting collection of archeological exhibits, and the second floor houses rotating art exhibits.