Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nakagin Castle

Nakijin Castle Remains (notes taken from tour pamphlet)

Located towards the Northern part of Okinawa, Japan and occupies the northeastern part of the Motobu Peninsula. Entry is ¥400 and the parking free.
From 600 to 700 years ago, three parts of the island competed with each other. The Hoku-zan Kings (Northern Kingdom) resided in the Nakijin Castle. The Central Kingdom took over the Northern who unified the Ryukyu people, but rebellion ensued by the North and governorship was inherited.
It sits atop an elevation of 330 feet and commands the view of mountains of northern villages and remote islands in the ocean. The stone walls are built with Paleozonic limestones.
The castle has a main gate, where guards protected during battles. There was a field inside used to raise and train war horses. One of the holiest sites inside was reportedly the living quarters for the court ladies. Excavation surveys have identified different transition periods from it’s construction to its abandonment.
Shigema Utudaru, a legendary woman and of rare beauty believed to be the concubine of the last king Han’anji was given a monument in the castle. Engraved with a traditional poem, translated it says:
Orange Fruit Out Of Season
In The Castle Of Nakijin
Pretty Shigema Utudaru Wears And Takes Off A Lei Again And Again
Made By Passing Ivy Through Oranges
It describes the peaceful life, comparing an orange tree laden with out-of-season fruit to the way Shigema fondles her child with whom she was blessed in her old age.

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