Nakijin Castle



Nakijin castle is estimated to have been built in the 13th Century by the AJi lords. It was the home of the Aji until the Hanji took control in the 14th century and established the Hokuzan Kingdom whose base was Nakijin Castle. In 1416 the Chuzan Kingdom conquered the Hokuzan Kingdom and stationed their governor at Nakijin Castle. The governor, Lord Gosamaru, was said to have been a descendent of the Aji lords who originally built Nakijin Castle.

Nakijin Castle, along with Shuri Castle and several other related sites in Okinawa, were desiganted a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2000. They are also designated a National Historical Site.

Visit Notes

not personally visited

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  • picture by Terry P.
  • stone walls
  • stone wall and gate
  • stone wall, steps and gate
  • stone walls and courtyard
  • stone walls and gate
  • stone walls and courtyard
  • stone walls and courtyard
  • stone walls
  • stone walls and courtyard
  • stone walls and courtyard
  • stone walls and courtyard
  • Miimun Gusuku
  • Outer Bailey's walls
  • Outer Bailey's walls & Fui Dunchi Shrine
  • Osumi Bailey's walls
  • Kazafu Ravine & stone walls
  • Original pathway to Umiya Bailey
  • Hinukan (God of Fire) Shrine, Main Bailey
  • Model of Nakijin Castle

Castle Profile
English Name Nakijin Castle
Japanese Name 今帰仁城
Alternate Names Nakijin-gusuku, Hokuzan-jo
Founder Aji clan
Year Founded 13 Century
Castle Type Mountaintop
Castle Condition Ruins only
Designations Top 100 Castles, UNESCO World Heritage Site, National Historic Site
Historical Period Pre Edo Period
Features stone walls
Visitor Information
Access bus
Visitor Information
Time Required
Website naj.html
Location Nakijin, Okinawa Prefecture
Coordinates 26° 41' 24.43" N, 127° 55' 50.66" E
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Added to Jcastle 2006
Admin Year Visited Viewer Contributed

(7 votes)
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Matthew WardGunshi

12 months ago
Score 0++
I went to Nakijin Castle about 10 years ago. Although I slightly prefer Nakagusuku, Nakijin is a fabulous ruin. The highlight is the walls--they remind me of a gigantic ancient ship or something. As you can see in the pictures above, there are also some neat stone gates, which is something you don't see at mainland Japanese castles (at least, not gates with tops that you can walk under). And it has a very big scale. Another 5-star ruin that is deserving of its World Heritage status.


15 months ago
Score 0++

I revisited this castle last week. On my first visit here in late December 2021 (see my previous comment below), the Shijimajo Bailey was off limits as some restoration work was being done at the time. There is a great view of the Main Bailey’s stone walls (ishigaki)looking up from the Shijimajo Bailey. One section of the stone wall has obviously been repaired recently as a whole section of the wall has much newer stones than most of the wall. Checking the photos from my first visit in December 2021, I could see there was indeed some scaffolding over that section of the Main Bailey’s stone walls near the gate leading down to the Shijimajo Bailey.

The view looking up from the Shijimajo Bailey reminded me of Katsuren Castle when looking up from the Fourth Bailey. There were few visitors at Nakijin Castle as my wife and I arrived a bit after it had rained. When we left the castle ruins 2 hours later, there were a lot of visitors. Also, parts of the castle, the Outer Bailey and the modern stone path up to the Umiya Bailey look quite different in December and March because of the cherry trees in those baileys. In December, most of the ishigaki can clearly be seen because the cherry trees are bare while in March, after the cherry blossoms in late January, there is a lot of foliage obscuring some of the ishigaki and the Heiromon (Heiro Gate).


28 months ago
Score 1++

My wife and I went to this castle in late December 2021. We had no problem getting seats on the Yanbaru Express from the Kenchokitaguchi stop, which is in front of the Ryubo Department Store opposite the Prefectural Building. I guess there were less passengers because we caught the first coach at 6:45am, and there was(is) still the Covid pandemic going on, so there were few international tourists on the coach. However, the coach was almost full by the time it left the Omoromachi stop. It took a little over 2 hours to get to Nakajin Castle, but it was worth the effort. We got off at the Nakijin Castle Iriguchi stop (今帰仁城跡入口) . There are two ways up to the castle. One way is by walking along the modern road up to the castle. The other way is to take the Hanta Trail (ハンタ道). We took the Hanta Trail, a path through the forest, stopping at Miimun Gusuku (ミームングスク), one of seven outposts dotted around Nakijin Castle. Miimun Gusuku is the stone foundation remnants of a watchtower outpost, and from there you can see the Shigemajo Bailey part of Nakijin Castle in the distance.

Nakijin Castle is much bigger than Nakagusuku Castle and Katsuren Castle, and of a similar size as Shuri Castle. Nakijin Castle has lots of stone walls, many of them restored over the last couple of decades. They were still restoring some of the stone walls when we visited, so the Shigemajo Bailey was closed to visitors until 23rd March 2022. I guess we will have to come back to Nakijin Castle in the future to visit every bailey of this huge castle ruin. The castle is well signposted, and you can pick up a pamphlet in English at the ticket office.

About a hundred metres from the Heiromon Gate, the entrance into the paid part of Nakijin Castle, there is a topographical model of the Nakijin Castle site including the village ruin, stone walls, and some of the outposts. Also, near this model are different examples of limestone used for the construction of Katsuren, Nakagusuku, Nakijin, and Shuri Castle.

In the Nakijin Village History and Culture Centre, there is another model of Nakijin Castle. Also, beyond the castle’s outermost stone walls are the ruin of the Nakijin Village and several sacred places such as the Tomonokane Priestess Hinukan Shrine and Nakijin Priestess Hinukan Shrine. When we visited, my wife and I were the only ones checking out these shrines. Everyone else just make a beeline for the castle from the ticket office.

Nakijin Castle is certainly worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage status. I hope when I re-visit this castle ruin in the future, it would be on a sunny day instead of an overcast one.


112 months ago
Score 0++
Nice ruins good signage. Bus is 2100 each way. Best to get at airport (bus stop sign #2. Yanbaru Express) as it fills quickly with tour groups for the aquarium. This happened at the 3rd stop today (municipal building?), after that was full and no more passengers allowed on from subsequent stops. Left on the 8:40 (arrived 11:05) returned on next available which was 14:55. Ample time.