The Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom
of Ryukyu were designated on the list of UNESCO World
Heritage Sites in the year 2000. These sites and
monuments are located in Okinawa. Over 500 years of
Ryukyuan history can be traced back to these properties,
which developed a unique culture in the Ryukyu Islands,
much different from mainland Japan and its neighboring
East-Asian countries. From the 12th and 17th centuries,
the Ryukyu Islands served a prominent role in the
economic and political exchange between China, Korea,
Japan, and south-east Asia.
A total of nine sites represent the World Heritage properties: five castles, two stone monuments, and two cultural landscapes. Specifically, there is the Shuri Castle, Najikin Castle, Katsuren Castle, Nakagusuku Castle, and Zakimi Castle. The two stone monuments refer to the Sonohyan Utaki Gate and the Tamaudun mausoleum. The cultural landscapes include Shikina En Garden and Sefa Utaki, a historical sacred spot. These properties symbolize the flourished history and trade of the Ryukyu Islands, which gave rise to a distinct culture and influences in art, academics, religion, and politics.
Although the entire region suffered substantial damages during WWII, the area’s authenticity and integrity remain high thanks to the efforts in reconstruction and restoration using proper materials. Many of its archaeological excavations have also been preserved underground. Given these reasons, the Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu distinguish the unique history and culture of the domain’s 500 years’ regime.