On our first weekend in Okinawa, our new friends Claira and Slade picked us up from the hotel and introduced us to some Okinawan history! It took us awhile to find it, but deep in the hills we found the historical site of Nakagusuku castle, a 14th century fortress with a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape.
The castle was constructed without the use of any mortar or cement, which is incredible considering the longevity of the structure. They carved the limestone so that each piece would fit perfectly with the adjoining pieces. Not only has it survived the intense weather of the last 7 centuries, but it also survived some fierce battles in WWII!
This is one of multiple castle sites on the island, although it is one of the best preserved. In the ancient Ryukyu period (between the 14th and 17th centuries), Okinawa was divided into 3 kingdoms. The kingdoms co-existed peacefully for many years, thriving on trade with China, until at some point one ruler conquered the rest in a story I’ll have to save for a day when I have my facts straight. 🙂 When Japan annexed Okinawa (then known as the Ryukyu Kingdom), these castle sites became designated as National Historic Sites.
From the top of the enclosure, you can see where the Pacific Ocean meets the East China sea.
We had a great time checking out the ruins of Nakagusuku castle, but then our friends told us they had more to show us. Walking distance from the castle was the creepiest place I’d ever seen… the old abandoned construction site of the Royal Hotel.
Apparently, this hotel was being built in the 70s, and was supposed to be the most extravagant hotel on the island. Weird things started to happen during the hotel’s construction, and the construction workers came to believe the site was haunted. I’ll have to explain Okinawan spirituality more in depth in a later post, but I will tell you that they believe that the dead remain on the earth, and their spirits can and do cause harm to the living. Whether the owner of the hotel went bankrupt or was encouraged by an unfriendly spirit, he committed suicide and the hotel has not been touched since. (Except by graffiti artists and copper collectors)!
I have no idea how someone managed to get a car onto the 3rd floor! This would not exist in America- it would either be bought and taken over by someone else or torn down. We were able to climb concrete staircases without any siding up 5 flights- a law suit waiting to happen (in America, that is)!
The view from the top was amazing! If I were an Okinawan ghost, I’m sure this wouldn’t be a bad spot to haunt. Stay tuned for snorkeling, flying, shopping, driving, beer-drinking adventures!