【World Heritage of Okinawa】Zakimi Castle Remains4.0
Zakimi Castle was built by Gosamaru, a great commander who played an important role during the Sanzan Period (civil war era) and worked hard to secure the Ryukyu Kingdom after its unification. It was built around 1420, with the purpose of keeping an eye on the powers opposed to the King. Even though small in size, it features the most sophisticated and beautiful stone-built wall and gate among all castles in Okinawa. This is an important historical site which indicates the sophisticated techniques of stone structures.
The front walls of the castle are projected as waves, a strategy to thwart enemy attacks. It is believed to be possible to easily make out the enemy without leaning over the wall, and it was also effective for attacking from multiple directions. There is a passageway which seemingly continues endlessly. When you keep going forward, it actually leads to a dead end. This twist, “Musha gakushi,” is to fool the enemies and gives opportunity to attack them. It is obvious that Zakimi Castle was built as a fortified castle in preparation for war.
Zakimi Castle was built on argilliferous red clay soils called Kunigami Maaji. The castle wall’s curved line and thickness of width are likened to a folding screen. It is designed to be effective for compensating the geological condition and making an unbreakable structure. Masonry that interlocks and piled up rocks is called Aikata-zumi, and another technique called Nuno-zumi can be seen in the castle architecture of Japan. These masonry techniques were used to build the castle. Its gate is the oldest arch-shaped gate existing in Okinawa. Wedges were used on the center part of the gate to enhance its strength. This unique structure can be seen only on Zakimi Castle, and it symbolizes the sophisticated degree of Gosamaru’s building techniques.
In 1972, the Japanese government formally recognized Zakimi Castle Remains as a National Treasure. And it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2000 as one of the assets of the “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu”.
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