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Courtesy of Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau

Gusuku Sites and Related Properties
of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

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  • Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu

Gusuku Castles a lasting monument of Ryukyu history

Gusuku Castles a lasting monument of Ryukyu history Gusuku Castles a lasting monument of Ryukyu historyCourtesy of Naha City

The World Heritage Gusuku sites and related properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu are the pride of Okinawa Prefecture. Gusuku is the Ryukyu, or Okinawan word for castle, and the remains of Shuri Castle and Nakijin Castle are also registered on the World Heritage list.
However, these Gusuku castles are a very different form to the usual image of a castle.This area was once the independent Kingdom of Ryukyu.
Ryukyu flourished for 450 years from 1429 to 1879, the economy supported by trading with Japan, China, Korea, and South-east Asian countries, which led to the development of a unique, rich international culture. These Gusuku castles are a lasting monument of this region’s history.

Local ruling families build Gusuku in struggle for power.

Local ruling families build Gusuku in struggle for power Local ruling families build Gusuku in struggle for powerCourtesy of Shurijo Castle Park

With the start of the 12th century, the long tradition of hunting and gathering came to an end in Ryukyu, and an agricultural society began to develop.Each local area had what was known as an Aji Chieftain, and as they increased their power, conflicts broke out.
The ruling families built Gusuku castles to act as strongholds while they struggled to hold onto and increase their power, and this time in Ryukyu is known as the Gusuku Period. As these conflicts continued, several major powers formed on the main island of Ryukyu. Each ruling family’s Gusuku castle had unique characteristics; some reflected beliefs, some were more robust like forts, and depending on the period, the Gusuku had many different functions.
In this way, the idiosyncrasies that these sites developed through independent trade with other countries and that cannot be seen in the rest of Japan, as well as the archeologically-significant sites the agriculturally-based ruling families built were highly evaluated, leading to these sites being registered as World Heritage in the year 2000.

Data

Site : Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu
Location : Okinawa Prefecture
Date of Inscription : 2000
Criteria : (ii) (iii) (vi)
Property : 55 ha
Buffer zone : 560 ha

The official website of The World Heritage Centre
"Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu"
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/972

Location map

No. Heritage Assets
1 Shuri-jo Site
2 Nakijin-jo Site
3 Zakimi-jo Site
4 Katsuren-jo Site
5 Nakagusuku-jo Site
6 Tamaudun
7 Sonohyan-utaki Ishimon
8 Shikina-en
9 Sefa-Utaki
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