JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.57

~Scenery of Japan~ Shurijo Castle

Shurijo Castle

Five hundred years of Ryukyuan history (12th–17th centuries) are represented by Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, which are also famous as a World Cultural Heritage. Among other magnificent castles and gates, “Shurijo Castle” has once functioned as the central structure of Ryukyu Kingdom. The gorgeous carvings of golden dragons and auspicious clouds of zuiun decorated on the “Seiden,” a central structure of Shurijo Castle, show highly sophisticated techniques of the artisans. Unfortunately, the brilliant and stylish architecture was reduced to ashes during the battle of Okinawa in WWII. However, they were reconstructed on the original sites in 1992 based on the photographs and historical records.

The scar of the battle still remains deep on the island. Even now, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit of the GSDF 15th Brigade stationed in Okinawa is continuously engaging in the disposal of unexploded shells in the city area such as the neighborhood of the Shurijo castle. In FY2013, there were 1,560 such cases, weighing aprrox. 57.1 tons in total. In particular, cases handled in Okinawa Prefecture accounted for 48% of the total.

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