Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Labor Day, Space A Adventure - Part 3

On our last full day in Okinawa, we set off to do some sight-seeing around Naha.  We started at Shurijo Castle Park.  The Ryukyu Kingdom was an independent kingdom which ruled over the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th to the 19th century.  Okinawa was one of the Ryukyu Islands.   Shurijo Castle functioned as the central structure of the Ryukyu Kingdom over a period of approximately 500 years.  The original castle was almost completely destroyed in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.  It was restored in 1992.

Shureimon Gate

Sonohyan-utaki Stone Gate
The King would pray in front of this stone gate for a safe journey upon his departure from the Castle.

Zuisenmon Gate

Ryuhi - this spring provided drinking water for the royal family

Koufukumon Gate

A geisha performance in the courtyard

Seiden - the main castle building

It was unfortunately under construction and covered in scaffolding while we were there

Me + J.!

Inside the Seiden - this is where the King would conduct political affairs and ceremonies

The castle was restored 70 cm above the original castle ruins - here you can see through the floor to the original castle ruins

Usasuka - where the King presided over political and ceremonial activities

Gorgeous paintings on the pillars!

Replica of a ceremony at the castle

Castle grounds

We've seen many shrines, temples and castles here in Japan, but this one was interesting because it had both Chinese and Japanese influences.  It was different from most of the traditional castles that you see on mainland Japan.

From Shurijo Castle Park, we headed to the Former Navy Underground Headquarters.  The headquarters are dug into a hillside outside of the city and was the Japanese headquarters on Okinawa during World War II.  It was built by civilians using pickaxes and shovels and remains almost exactly as it was in 1945.  It was truly fascinating and heartbreaking to learn more about the part that Okinawa played in World War II.  You couldn't help but feel a sense of loss for the native Okinawans who lost so much of their population and had so much of their beautiful island devastated during the Battle of Okinawa.

Former Navy Underground Headquarters


Peace Cranes

The entrance into the tunnel

When it became obvious that the Japanese were losing, General Ota and several of his soldiers committed suicide in these tunnels.

The view from the headquarters

After our somber morning, we headed back to our hotel to spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach.

View of our hotel from the beach area

Gorgeous views!

Delicious sushi on our last night in Okinawa

A sign at the airport reminding us not to bring our hand grenades through security ...

I find it absolutely fascinating to be living somewhere where so much history has occurred - and just a few decades ago.  I am looking forward to reading more about World War II and what occurred on Okinawa before my next trip to the island at Thanksgiving.

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