Seiden (main hall) of Shuri Castle
|Controlled by||"Chūzan (14th century–1429)
"Ryūkyū Kingdom (1429–1879)
"Empire of Japan (1879–1945)
"" "United States Military Government of the Ryukyu Islands (1945–1950)
"" "United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (1950–1972)
|Condition||Reconstructed, "UNESCO "World Heritage Site|
|Built||14th century, last rebuilt 1958–1992|
|In use||14th century–1945|
|Materials||Ryukyuan limestone, wood|
|Demolished||1945, numerous times previous|
|Occupants||Kings of "Chūzan and "Ryukyu Kingdom
"Imperial Japanese Army
Shuri Castle (首里城 Shuri-jō, "Okinawan: Sui Gushiku) is a Ryukyuan "gusuku in "Shuri, Okinawa. Between 1429 and 1879, it was the palace of the "Ryukyu Kingdom, before becoming largely neglected. In 1945, during the "Battle of Okinawa, it was almost completely destroyed. After the war, the castle was re-purposed as a university campus. Beginning in 1992, the central citadel and walls were largely reconstructed on the original site based on historical records, photographs, and memory.
The date of construction is uncertain, but it was clearly in use as a castle during the "Sanzan period (1322–1429). It is thought that it was probably built during the Gusuku period, like many other castles of Okinawa. When King "Shō Hashi unified the three principalities of Okinawa and established the "Ryukyu Kingdom, he used Shuri Castle as a residence. At the same time, Shuri flourished as the capital and continued to do so during the "Second Shō Dynasty.
For 450 years from 1429, it was the royal court and administrative center of the "Ryukyu Kingdom. It was the focal point of foreign trade, as well as the political, economic, and cultural heart of the "Ryukyu Islands. According to records, Shuri Castle was burned down several times, and rebuilt each time. During the reign of "Shō Nei, samurai forces from the Japanese "feudal domain of "Satsuma seized Shuri Castle on 6 May 1609. The Japanese withdrew soon afterwards, returning King "Shō Nei to his throne two years later, and the castle and city to the Ryukyuans, though the kingdom was now a vassal state under Satsuma's "suzerainty and would remain so for roughly 250 years.
The American "Commodore Perry, when he came to Okinawa in the 1850s, forced his way into Shuri Castle on two separate occasions, but was denied an audience with the king both times. Later, the Kingdom was annexed by "Japan in 1879, and the king was removed and the castle was used as a "barracks by the "Imperial Japanese Army. The Japanese garrison withdrew in 1896, but not before having created a series of tunnels and caverns below it.
In 1908, Shuri City bought the castle from the Japanese government, however they did not have funding to renovate it. In 1923, thanks to Japanese architect "Ito Chuta, the Seiden survived demolition after being re-designated a prefectural "Shinto shrine known as "Okinawa Shrine. In 1925, it became a "national treasure. Despite its decline, historian "George H. Kerr described the castle as "one of the most magnificent castle sites to be found anywhere in the world, for it commands the countryside below for miles around and looks toward distant sea horizons on every side."
During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army had set up its headquarters in the castle underground, and by early 1945, had established complex lines of defense and communications in the regions around Shuri, and across the southern part of the island as a whole. Beginning on May 25, 1945, and as the final part of the Okinawa campaign, the American battleship "USS Mississippi (BB-41) shelled it for three days. On May 27, it burned.
Due to this, the 32nd Japanese Army withdrew to the south and thus the Marines had a relatively easy task of securing Shuri Castle. On 29 May, Maj. Gen. "Pedro del Valle — commanding the 1st Marine Division—ordered Captain Julian D Dusenbury of  Company A, "1st Battalion, "5th Marines to capture the castle, which represented both strategic and psychological blows for the Japanese and was a milestone in the campaign.
After the war, the "University of the Ryukyus was established in 1950 on the castle site, where it remained until 1975. In 1958, "Shureimon was reconstructed and, starting from 1992, the 20th anniversary of reversion, the main buildings and surrounding walls of the central castle were reconstructed. At present, the entire area around the castle has been established as "Shuri Castle Park". In 2000, along with other "gusuku and related sites, it was designated as a "UNESCO "World Heritage Site.
Unlike Japanese castles, Shuri Castle was greatly influenced by Chinese architecture, with functional and decorative elements similar to that seen primarily in the "Forbidden City. The gates and various buildings were painted in red with lacquer, walls and eaves colorfully decorated, and roof tiles made of Goryeo and later... red Ryukyuan tiles, and the decoration of each part heavily using the king's dragon. Given that Nanden and Bandokoro were both used for reception and entertainment of the "Satsuma clan, a Japanese style design was used here only.
Ryukyuan elements also dominate. Like other "gusuku, the castle was built using Ryukyuan limestone, being surrounded by an outer shell which was built during the Second Shō Dynasty from the second half of the 15th century to the first half of the 16th century. Similarly, Okushoin-en is the only surviving garden in a gusuku in the Ryukyu Islands, which made use of the limestone bedrock and arranged using local "cycads.
The current renovation is designed with a focus on the castle's role as a cultural or administrative/political center, rather than one for military purposes. The buildings that have been restored as original wooden buildings are only in the main citadel. Seiden was rebuilt using wood from Taiwan and elsewhere after rituals blessing the removal of large trees from mountains in the "Yanbaru region of Okinawa took place.
Other buildings, such as Nanden or Hokuden were only restored as facades, with interiors made using modern materials such as steel and concrete. Old walls remain in part, and were excavated and incorporated during the construction of the new castle wall, forming the only surviving external remains of the original Shuri Castle.
Due to its central role in Ryukyuan political and religious life, Shuri is composed of and surrounded by various sites of historical interest. The Shuri Castle complex itself can be divided into three main zones, namely a central administrative area (including the Seidan and Ura), an eastern living and ceremonial space (behind the Seidan) called the Ouchibara (literally "inside field"), and a southwestern ceremonial area including the Kyo-no-uchi (literally "inside capital").
All of the buildings located at Shuri Castle are modern reconstructions, the originals being lost in 1945.
Shuri Castle operated not only as a base of political and military control, it was also regarded as a central religious sanctuary of the Ryukyuan people. Formerly there were 10 "utaki (shrines) within the castle and the large area on the south-western side of the citadel was occupied by a sanctuary called the Kyo-no-uchi. This was a place where natural elements, such as trees and natural limestone rocks were utilized. Although "Noro (priestesses) carried out a number of nature rituals (as also sometimes occurs in "Shinto), the contents of the rituals and the layout of the inner part of the sacred areas remain unclear. After the war, limited religious observance continued on the site, mostly with the placement of incense sticks on places formerly considered sacred. However, restoration of Shuri Castle stopped general access to these sites, and for this reason, "Shuri Castle was resurrected, but it was destroyed as a place of worship".["citation needed]
Contacts between the Ryukyu Islands and China began in 1372 and lasted five centuries until the establishment of "Okinawa Prefecture in 1879. When a new king commenced, the "Emperor of China sent officials to attend the investiture ceremony at Shuri Castle. Through this ceremony, the kingdom reiterated its ties with China, both politically, commercially, and culturally. This custom also granted the new monarch official international recognition within east Asia.
The Chinese delegation included about 500 people, including a Sapposhi (ambassador) and a representative, both appointed by senior officials of the emperor. The envoys departed from "Beijing and proceeded by land to "Fuzhou in "Fujian Province, where they sailed to the "Ryukyu Islands, sometimes via "Kumejima, on Ukanshin ("Crown Ships").
Among the first tasks of the Chinese delegation was a Yusa (religious ceremony) in memory of the late king. Words of condolence from the emperor were spoken in "Sōgen-ji in Naha, and (after 1799) envoys were then received in "Shikina-en. Then the investiture ceremony took place in the Una, where two platforms were erected between the Nanden and Seiden, called Kettei, reserved for the envoys, and Sendokudai. The imperial official recited the formula for the appointment of the new king and bowed deeply.
Later, inside the castle, there was a "Feast of Investiture," followed by a "Mid-autumn Banquet", accompanied by songs and dances. This banquet was held on a temporary platform opposite the Hokuden, a platform on which the Imperial envoys stood. On the shore of Ryutan and in the castle, the "Choyo Banquet", during which a boat race and musical performances took place, was also held in the presence of the delegation. Two successive farewell banquets were then held opposite the Hokuden, and finally a banquet at the Tenshikan, where the king gave the Chinese delegation gold presents as an august sign for their return.
In the 2002 computer game, "Deadly Dozen: Pacific Theater, the last mission takes place assaulting Shuri Castle. In the 2008 video game, "Call of Duty: World at War, the last American mission ("Breaking Point") takes place in Shuri Castle, where U.S. Marines make their final push to take Okinawa. In the game, main characters in the plot die alongside several US forces as the player proceeds upwards under mortar and small arms fire to the Ura, the courtyard of the ruined castle, which was targeted by US airstrikes to soften Japanese forces entrenched there.
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