Shuri Castle

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Name in Japanese: 首里城
Area: Okinawa
Address: [map]
Hours: 8:30am to 6pm, open until 8pm from July to September and until 7pm from October to November
Admission: Adults: ¥820
High School students: ¥620
Middle School students: ¥310
Elementary School students: ¥310
Payment options: Cash & Credit Cards
Parking options: Parking available

Also known as Shurijo Castle (jo means ‘castle’), this was the palace of the Ryukyu kings from 1429 until 1879.

Most of the castle was destroyed in the fierce Battle of Okinawa at the end of World War II. After the war, Ryukyu University occupied the site. At the same time, various parts of the complex were restored and reopened. Shureimon gate was restored in 1958 and the Kankaimon gate was restored in 1974. Finally, in 1989, work began on restoring the main buildings of the castle—including the Seiden. Then, in 1992, the fully restored castle and park opened to the public.

Shureimon Gate
Shureimon Gate | Photo by Gregory Lane

The main gate when entering the castle is the iconic Shureimon, which was built between 1527 and 1555. The gate features on the rare 2,000 yen bank note.

Kankaimon Gate
Kankaimon Gate | Photo by Gregory Lane

As with castles on the mainland, there are a series of gates to pass through before reaching the central palace buildings. Entering the grounds of the castle is free, but passing through the inner Koufukumon gate requires a ticket which can be purchased just to the left of the gate.

View from the ramparts of Shuri Castle
Photo by Gregory Lane

Once through the Koufukumon Gate, you will be right in front of the Seiden—the hall which was the King’s residence and which housed the throne room. Photography inside the Seiden is not permitted.

Shuri Castle Main Hall
The Seiden at Shuri Castle | Photo by Gregory Lane

After leaving the Seiden at the rear there are more fortifications and smaller buildings to explore.

Exiting again through the Koufukumon (the place where they collect tickets), continuing straight ahead will take you to a large complex called Suimuikan (Shurijo Castle Park Rest Center) with souvenir shops, restaurants and an underground carpark.

Opening hours and admission

Hours of admission vary by season. Opening time is 8:30am throughout the year. From April to June and again from October until the end of November, the park closes at 7pm. From July to September closing time is 8pm. During the cooler months of December to March, the park closes at 6pm. The park is also closed completely on the first Wednesday and Thursday of July each year.

Admission for adults is ¥820. High School students can get in for ¥620, while younger school students are admitted for ¥310.

Getting there

Shuri Castle is a 15 minute walk, or a 3 minute bus ride from Shuri Station on the Okinawa Monorail. Okinawa Bus buses run from the Okinawa Bus sales office in Naha to Shurijo-mae bus stop once or twice an hour from 6:39am to 7:05pm (see the timetable in Japanese here). Take the number 7 or 8 bus. The journey takes approximately 30 minutes.

If going by car, be aware that the approach road gets extremely busy and traffic grinds to a halt—especially when cruise boats from China are in port. Parking is ¥320 for a regular car.