The castle was originally founded somewhere in the 13-14th centuries. It was modified and expanded several times coming into its height of power during as a palace and fortress for the Ryukyu kings who established the unified Ryukyu kingdom in 1429. These kings ruled for abour 400 years until the Meiji government ousted the king in 1879 and established the prefecture of Okinawa. From 1609 the kingdom was under the control of the Satsuma clan and thereby the Tokugawa Shogunate but they kept some freedom regarding their relationships with China.
Obviously Shuri Castle was neither influenced by the same factors as typical mainland castles nor does it have many of the same structures or types of architecture. The castle and other related sites in the area were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.
Shuri Castle is the top remaining testament to the Ryukyu Dynasty. It’s also one of nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Okinawa.
At least a few hours are needed to tour the magnificent site and surrounding shrines. At certain times of the year, the castle is the scene of reenactments of royal processions and other important moments in history.
Shuri is the only Okinawa castle that’s been restored to its full, former glory.
It was almost completely destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. In 1992, it was rebuilt based on historical documents and pictures.