I’m more than ashamed that I have lived on this little island for two years and have just visited my first castle ruin. I could give a bunch of excuses like I had a newborn when we first got here, I didn’t know anyone and wouldn’t want to go alone, my husband has a crazy schedule, I started working the second year…I could go on and on, but they’re just excuses. The truth is it was just so easy to settle into the daily routine of things and a little bit scary to venture out into a world full of unfamiliar Kanji symbols and people that didn’t speak my language.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been to lots of neat places here, but mostly the touristy ones that have lots of English options like the Churaumi Aquarium. And that’s great, but Okinawa is full of so much history it really is shameful that I haven’t started getting around to see it all sooner.
Keegan and I started meeting up with a group of other moms and kiddos for a weekly play group and it’s been decided that we ought to visit all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Okinawa. There are a total of nine sites here that are collectively listed as “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.”
Last week we headed to Katsuren Castle Ruins, which was only about a 15 minute drive from where we live. The site is open 24 hours and has open access, though there is a visitor center located directly acrosse the street.
It probably doesn't strike you as the most kid friendly place, but honestly it was great for them to just be able to run around... K was knocked out no more than 2 minutes into the car ride home. Plus it was free.. and you know I love free!!
There was quite a large hill and plenty of stairs, but I was 39 weeks pregnant and I did it with my two year old, so don't let that scare you... although it's likely that I was just trying to get my water to break.
The view was gorgeous! The ruins are located on a peninsula so you could view the Pacific on both sides.
You might not be able to tell, but there is a rather large hole next to this shrine. I wonder if they made sacrifices here...? hmm?
While we we're there they seemed to be excavating a portion of the ruins. I thought that was pretty neat. It seems crazy to me that there are still hidden treasures from the 15th century!
An here is some information about the castle in it's hay-day!
If you want to know even more, here are a few links that might help you out:
Keep an eye out for future posts on other sites we'll visit!