Nakagusuku Castle Site is venue for weekend Gosamaru Festival
The Nakagusuku Gosamaru Festival rolls into action this weekend at the Nakagusuku Castle Site on Okinawa’s east-central side, providing events, music and food.
The two-day event runs 3 p.m. ~ 9 p.m. both days. Admission is free. Events and activities range from clown to dance shows, capped by a Sunday evening performance at 8 p.m. by Okinawa’s popular Diamantes band.
Organizers note it’s a perfect time to enjoy the mysteries of the Nakagusuku Castle. Comedy from Okinawan comedian Nicky will be on stage at various points during the Saturday and Sunday festival.
The Nakagusuku Gosamaru Festival is named in honor of a legendary hero, Gosamaru, who centuries ago aligned with Shō Hashi, king of the Okinawan kingdom of Chūzan, in his invasion and conquest of the neighboring kingdom of Hokuzan. Hashi would conquer the kingdom of Nanzan to the south several years later, uniting Okinawa Island, ending the Sanzan Period, and founding the unified Ryūkyū Kingdom. In recognition of his support, Gosamaru was made custodian of Hokuzan, and given Nakijin gusuku, which had until then served as the royal seat of Hokuzan.
Gosamaru served the kingdom loyally, and developed ties with the royal family, his daughter marrying King Shō Taikyū. Upon the wishes of the royal government, he oversaw the construction of a castle (gusuku) at Nakagusuku, and established himself there, serving to watch over another local lord, Amawari of Katsuren gusuku, who had grown powerful and wealthy from maritime trade and who had his eye on the throne. In 1458, however, Amawari reported to the royal government that it was Gosamaru who was planning a revolt, and so the kingdom’s forces, led by Amawari, assaulted Nakagusuku. It is said that Gosamaru refused to fight back, out of loyalty to the kingdom, and killed himself rather than betray his loyalties and oppose his king.
Amawari was executed soon afterwards, his duplicity having been discovered by a note to the king which Gosamaru placed in his mouth, knowing Amawari would bring his head to present to the king. An alternate theory claims that the entire affair was organized by the royal government, in order to remove both Gosamaru and Amawari as powerful rivals and potential threats to the succession.
The tale of Gosamaru’s betrayal and destruction by Amawari is among the more famous and popular of local historical legends.