Shurijo Castle & Tropical Beach

We woke up bright and early, intending to take a ferry with friends to another island to explore, only to pull up exactly as the ferry was leaving the port. Rather than allowing crushing disappointment to overtake us, we quickly came up with an equally awesome plan B.

IMG_1611

First up, Shurijo Castle! A World Heritage Site, the castle was destroyed in a fire (for the fourth time in its history, seriously. Get some fire proofing already.) during the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, and a series of reconstructions began in the 1950s and continue today. The castle is one of the best-beloved examples of the Ryukyu Kingdom of Okinawa, which ruled for hundreds of years.

The serious hike up the hill, carrying a toddler nonetheless, was worth the view from the top of the island.

IMG_1600

I’m not saying I was winded by the time I got there, just that it was worth it. 🙂

IMG_1603

The castle itself was stunning. I had no idea that the Chinese influenced so much of Eastern architecture and culture, but one look at the multiple golden dragons and the style of the exterior, and I began to realize just how closely interconnected things had been over the past centuries.

There were plenty of Japanese touches too – halls of tatami rooms, with sliding paper windows (maybe THIS is why this place is so fire-friendly) open to the Okinawan breezes.

IMG_1616IMG_1613

After Shurijo Castle, our gang headed back toward home, with a stop for lunch and fun at Tropical Beach.

Too cold to swim and not quite the start of swim season, anyone who dared set more than a toe in the water was quickly reprimanded via loudspeaker in either Japanese or English, depending on the offender. It was incredibly Big Brother-esque, particularly as there was no lifeguard on the beach.

We made the best of the situation, however, when my son started creeping closer to a group of Okinawan young men about to play soccer, clearly intent on joining the game. I caught up with him just as he was about to interfere, but once the guys realized that’s what he wanted, they were actually delighted to include him.

IMG_1625

DELIGHTED. It’s one of my favorite memories from Japan so far, because they were so friendly and excited to play with him. We’re having a slightly different Japan experience, I suspect. Most Japanese people are incredibly reserved, yet they adore children, and I’m most often traveling with my son, so we are typically met with friendly gazes wherever we go.

For most of the childless friends we were traveling with however, they continually remarked upon how much more laid-back and friendly the Okinawans had been than folks nearer to Tokyo.

IMG_1626

After this picture, I’d agree. 🙂

IMG_1628

Information on tickets and access to Shurijo Castle is here. Tropical Beach is an approximate 20 minute drive away, with lots of parking and a gorgeous view of the ocean.

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Shurijo Castle & Tropical Beach

  1. You sound like you are having such a good time. Thanks for sharing! I loved the architecture and the sweet story at the end. Keep them coming!

    Like

  2. […] On Day Two of our Osaka-area trip, we headed down to Himeji Castle to tour Japan’s most famous castle of all. It’s one of the few that wasn’t destroyed in WWII or by natural disasters, and so it’s one of the only surviving examples that is not a reproduction (looking at you, Shurijo Castle). […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s