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Three of Okinawa's Most Fascinating Castles

By: Michael Davis

Date Posted: 2000-06-23

Permanent fortifications are monuments to the stupidity of man" said General George S. Patton in North Africa in 1942. Sometimes war is inevitable, but if war is unavoidable; hit first, hit hard and bring hostilities to a conclusion quickly. The world is replete with ancient fortresses, castles and citadels.

These structures are often the sites of humanity's inhumanity and were always built as defensive bastions against some looming terror. History has proven that defensive strategies against terrorists are receipts for disasters. The history of Okinawa has such a story...

The Okinawan Prefecture has approximately 300 castle ruin sites. Facts on many of these locations are obscure and lost in history. With the exception of Shuri Castle, three of the best documented and truly fascinating castle are Zakimi (Yomitan Village), Nakagusuku (Nakagusuku Village) and Katsuren (Katsuren Town) Castles.

Zakimi and Nakagusuku were built in the first half of the 15th century by Lord Seishun Gosamaru, a loyal vassal of King Sho-Hashi at Shuri. Zakimi was built first, then the King ordered Gosamaru to construct a castle at Nakagusuku. The move was strategic and implemented to protect the kingdom against a looming terror, Lord Amawari, Master of Katsuren Castle. (See map).

Find Shuri Castle (the throne), then find Zakimi, Nakagusuku and Katsuren Castles. By moving Lord Gosamaru to Nakagusuku, the King moved the forward Edge of the battle Area into Amawari's "backyard".

"Hind sight is 20/20!" If Gosamaru had simply attacked Katuren from Zakimi, then, Amawari may have been defeated. However, Gosamaru was defeated and killed by Amawari's assult on Nakagusuku Castle in 1458.

The Management and Consulation Committee of Nakagusuku offers the following information, "The conflict between Lord Gosamaru and Lord Amawari; traditionally depicts the former as the king's loyal retainter and the latter as the treacherous rebel. However, studies recently published show that their dispute arose over the Amami islands and unresolved trade conflicts. "Power, money and lust are the root causes of all human conflict!

"Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it!"

If this an accurate statement, then, we should endeavor to learn the history of humanity. Don't be bored on your tour-of-duty in Okinawa. Go out into the world you live in and understand the Okinawan people. It will not be an easy task, but it just might be rewarding.

Information: Zakimi and Katsuren Castles have no admission fees and are opent to the public 24 hr. a day, 7 days a week.

Nakagusuku castle charges the following rates:
Adults-300 (group 100)
H.S. Students-200 (group 100)
G.S. Students-100 (group 50)

*Pre-schoolers accompanied by a sponsor are admitted free-of-charge
*Group rates apply to 20 people and above.
Hours of operation are 8:30am to 5:00pm. Mon-Sun

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