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Okinawa's gusukusOkinawa, Japan

As well as being one of the world’s most underrated dive spots, and home to awesome wilderness retreats and delicious food, there’s also plenty of history in Okinawa Prefecture.

For almost 500-years, Okinawa and its surrounding islands were part of the Ryukyu Kingdom. This Kingdom once ruled from south of Kyushu in southern Japan, all the way down until (but not including) Taiwan.

Zakimi-jo Castle. It is estimated that there were once as many as 5000 castles total in Japan.

The historic era saw the Ryukyuans become prosperous, a key cog in the maritime trading route of Asia, traders, with evidence in 2022 to be found in the series of pretty epic castles that you can actually go and visit.

get lost have found the three best gusukus on Okinawa Island for you to step back in time in.

Katsuren-jo Castle site

The Pacific Ocean sandwiches Katsuren-jo Castle on two sides, which would have created a formidable lookout in the 13th to 14th century when it was built. Nowadays, it has lost its defensive purpose but retains its domineering beauty. In 2016, both Ottoman and Roman Empire currency was dug up at Kasturen, a nod to Okinawa’s status as a major maritime player.

Visit Katsuren

Katsuren is near Uruma, on Okinawa Island's east coast.

Nakijin-jo Castle site

Nakijin Castle was seemingly built in the 13th century with tourism in mind. You can actually walk along the top section of the castle and you’ll get some pretting incredible views of the forest and surrounding ocean, and Japan’s famous cherry blossoms bloom around the castle in January and February. Nakijin changed hands a few times in history and was actually burnt to the ground in 1609. It's size is seriously impressive for the era in which it was constructed.  

Visit Nakijin

Nakijin-jo Castle has pretty impressive views whichever way you look.

Zakimi-jo Castle site

Zakimi Castle’s walls were built so strongly in 1420 that you can still walk along them today. It’s pretty special to be able to admire the handiwork of masons, whose work has withstood several hundred years of civil war. There’s also a vreally interesting, informative museum on site, the perfect place to learn more about the gusuku and Okinawa's rich culture and history.

Visit Zakimi

Zakimi from above.

get there

A variety of airlines fly to Naha via mainland Japan from Australia.

Ready to go?

Tags: Asia, castle, japan, okinawa

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