Shuri (首里, Okinawan: スイSui or Shui, Northern Ryukyuan: しよりShiyori ) is a district of the city of Naha, Okinawa. It was formerly a separate city in and of itself, and the royal capital of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. A number of famous historical sites are located in Shuri, including Shuri Castle, the Shureimon gate, Sunuhyan-utaki (a sacred space of the native Ryukyuan religion), and royal mausoleum Tamaudun, all of which are designated World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Originally established as a castle town surrounding the royal palace, Shuri ceased to be the capital when the kingdom was abolished and incorporated into Japan as Okinawa prefecture. In 1896, Shuri was made a ward (区, ku) of the new prefectural capital, Naha, though it was made a separate city again in 1921. In 1954, it was merged again into Naha.
Shuri Castle was first built during the reign of Shunbajunki (r. 1237–1248), who ruled from nearby Urasoe Castle.This was nearly a century before Okinawa Island would become divided into the three kingdoms of Hokuzan, Nanzan, and Chūzan; nearly two centuries before the unification of those kingdoms and establishment of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. The island was not yet an organized or unified kingdom, but rather a collection of local chieftains ( anji ) loyal to the chief chieftain in Urasoe.
Historian George H. Kerr describes Shuri 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."
By 1266, Okinawa was collecting tribute from the communities of the nearby islands of Iheya, Kumejima, and Kerama, as well as the more distant Amami Islands; new governmental offices to manage this tribute were established at the port of Tomari, which lay just below the castle, to the north.
Shō Hashi (r. 1422–1439), first king of the unified Ryūkyū Kingdom, made Shuri his capital, and oversaw expansion of the castle and the city.Shuri would remain the royal capital for roughly 450 years. The castle was burned to the ground during succession disputes in the 1450s, but was rebuilt, and the castle and city were further embellished and expanded during the reign of King Shō Shin (r. 1477–1526). In addition to the construction of stone dragon pillars and other embellishments upon the palace itself, the Buddhist temple Enkaku-ji was built on the castle grounds in 1492, the Sōgen temple on the road to Naha was expanded, and in 1501 construction was completed on Tamaudun, which would be used as the royal mausoleum from thence forward.
Throughout the medieval and early modern periods,the residents of Shuri were primarily those associated with the royal court in some way. While Naha was the economic center of the kingdom, Shuri was the political center. Residence at Shuri was prestigious into the 20th century.
Samurai forces from the Japanese feudal domain of Satsuma seized Shuri Castle on 5 April 1609.The samurai withdrew soon afterwards, returning King Shō Nei to his throne, and the castle and city to the Okinawans, 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.
The kingdom was formally abolished when, on 27 March 1879, Japanese Imperial forces led by Matsuda Michiyuki proceeded to the castle and presented Prince Nakijin with formal papers expressing Tokyo's decision. King Shō Tai and his court were removed from the castle, which was occupied by a Japanese garrison, and the main gates of which were sealed.The castle, along with the nearby mansions of former court nobles, fell into disrepair and decay over the ensuing years, and the ways of life of the aristocrats of Shuri were shattered. Royal pensions were shrunk or abolished, and income from nobles' nominal domains in the countryside likewise dried up. Servants were dismissed, and the aristocratic population of the city scattered, seeking employment in Naha, the countryside, or the Japanese Home Islands.
Census figures from 1875-79 show that roughly half of the population of Okinawa Island were living in the greater Naha-Shuri area. Shuri had fewer households than Naha, but each household consisted of more people. Roughly 95,000 people in 22,500 households were of the aristocracy at this time, out of a total population of 330,000 royal subjects throughout the Ryūkyū Islands, with most of the aristocracy living in and around Shuri. Over the following years, however, Shuri shrank in both population and importance, as Naha grew.
Pressure to restore, conserve, and protect the historical sites of Shuri began in earnest in the 1910s, and in 1928 Shuri Castle was declared a National Treasure. A four-year plan was laid out for the restoration of the structure. Other historical monuments came under protection soon afterward.
Though the Japanese garrison which had originally occupied Shuri Castle in 1879 withdrew in 1896,the castle, and a series of tunnels and caverns below it, were made to serve as general headquarters for Japanese military forces on Okinawa during World War II. The city first suffered Allied air attack in October 1944. Civilian response preparations and organization were extremely inadequate. Bureaucrats, almost all of them native to other prefectures, and tied up in obligations to military orders, made little effort to protect civilians, their homes, schools, nor historical monuments. Civilians were left to their own devices to rescue and protect themselves, their families, and their family treasures.
The official Custodian of the Family Treasures of the Okinawan royal family returned to the family's mansions in Shuri in March 1945 and sought to rescue a great number of treasures, ranging from crowns granted the kings by the Chinese Imperial Court to formal royal portraits. Some of these objects were sealed away in vaults, but others were simply buried in the earth or amongst the greenery here and there around Shuri. The mansions were destroyed by fire on 6 April, and the Okinawan guards appointed by the Custodian were sent away when the Japanese military occupied the grounds afterward.
As Shuri was the center of the Japanese defense, it was the prime target of American assault in the battle of Okinawa which was fought from March to June 1945. Shuri Castle was leveled by the USS Mississippi, and much of the city was burned and destroyed in the course of the battle.
The city was rebuilt over the course of the post-war years. The University of the Ryukyus was established on the site of the ruins of Shuri Castle in 1950, though later moved and today has campuses in Ginowan and Nakagusuku. The castle walls were restored shortly after the war's end, and reconstruction of the palace's main hall (Seiden) was completed in 1992, on the 20th anniversary of the end of the American Occupation in Okinawa.
Shuri was one of the sites used by the US Army to test biological weapons in the 60's.[ citation needed ]
A number of primary, middle, and secondary schools are located in Shuri, along with one university. The Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts is located just outside the grounds of Shuri Castle. One of the university's buildings sits on the site of the former Office of the Magistrate of Mother of Pearl (貝摺奉行所, kaizuri bugyōsho), an office of the royal administration which oversaw the kingdom's official craftsmen, chiefly lacquerers.
The village of Tobari in Shuri was the home of Masami Chinen, who founded and taught the martial art Yamani ryu specialising in Bōjutsu.
Gibo and Shuri Stations on the Okinawa Urban Monorail lay within the boundaries of Shuri. Shuri Castle Park, Tamaudun, and other major sites are within easy walking distance of Shuri Station, which is currently the terminus of the monorail line, though there are plans to extend it in the future.
Okinawa Island is the largest of the Okinawa Islands and the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands of Japan in the Kyushu region. It is the smallest and least populated of the five main islands of Japan. The island is approximately 106 kilometres (66 mi) long, an average 11 kilometres (7 mi) wide, and has an area of 1,206.98 square kilometers (466.02 sq mi). It is roughly 640 kilometres (400 mi) south of the main island of Kyushu and the rest of Japan. It is 500 km (300 mi) north of Taiwan. The total population of Okinawa Island is 1,384,762. The Greater Naha area has roughly 800,000 residents, while the city itself has about 320,000 people. Naha is the seat of Okinawa Prefecture on the southwestern part of Okinawa Island. Okinawa has a humid subtropical climate.
Tamaudun (玉陵) is one of the three royal mausoleums of the Ryukyu Kingdom, along with Urasoe yōdore at Urasoe Castle and Izena Tamaudun near Izena Castle in Izena, Okinawa. The mausoleum is located in Shuri, Okinawa, and was built for Ryūkyūan royalty in 1501 by King Shō Shin, the third king of the Second Shō Dynasty a short distance from Shuri Castle.
Shō Shin was a king of the Ryukyu Kingdom, the third of the line from the second Shō clan. Shō Shin's long reign has been described as "the Great Days of Chūzan", a period of great peace and relative prosperity. He was the son of Shō En, the founder of the dynasty, by Yosoidon, Shō En's second wife, often referred to as the queen mother. He succeeded his uncle, Shō Sen'i, who was forced to abdicate in his favor.
Shō Tai was the last king of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the head of the Ryukyu Domain. His reign saw greatly increased interactions with travelers from abroad, particularly from Europe and the United States, as well as the eventual end of the kingdom and its annexation by Japan as Ryukyu Domain. In 1879, the deposed king was forced to relocate to Tokyo. In May 1885, in compensation, he was made a Kōshaku, the second tier of nobility within the Kazoku peerage system.
Shō En was a king of the Ryukyu Kingdom from the second Shō clan. Prior to becoming king, he was known as Uchima Kanemaru (内間金丸).
Shō Jun was a Crown Prince of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, the son of King Shō Tei.
Shō Shitsu was a king of the Ryukyu Kingdom who held the throne from 1648 until his death in 1668.
Hiroshi Shō was the head of the Shō family, the former Ryūkyūan royal family. He was the great-grandson of Shō Tai, the last king of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and was the last member of the family to hold the title of Marquess. Like most members of the kazoku system of peerage, and all heads of the Shō family since the abolition of the Ryukyu Kingdom, he lived in Tokyo for his whole life.
Sonohyan-utaki is a sacred grove of trees and plants (utaki) of the traditional indigenous Ryukyuan religion. It is located on the grounds of Shuri Castle in Naha, Okinawa, a few paces away from the Shureimon castle gate. The utaki, or more specifically its stone gate, is one of a number of sites which together comprise the UNESCO World Heritage Site officially described as Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, and has been designated an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese national government.
Gosamaru was a Ryukyuan Lord (Aji) of Yomitanzan and, later, Nakagusuku. He was also known as Seishun (盛春), and by the Chinese name Mao Guoding. He supported Shō Hashi, first king of the Ryukyu Kingdom, in his conquest of Hokuzan and unification of Okinawa Island. He committed suicide in 1458 during a battle with the Katsuren Aji, Amawari.
Amawari was a Ryukyuan Lord (Aji) of Katsuren Castle, known for his ambitions for the throne of the Ryukyu Kingdom and scheme and attack against Gosamaru, Aji of Yomitanzan and Nakagusuku.
Shō Taikyū was a king of the Ryukyu Kingdom, the sixth of the line of the first Shō clan. His reign saw the construction of many Buddhist temples, and the casting of the "Bridge of Nations" Bell.
The "Bridge of Nations" Bell is a famous bronze bell associated with the Ryūkyū Kingdom.
Ōta Chōfu was a prominent Ryukyuan journalist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, famous for his involvement in the Kōdō-kai Movement, advocating the maintenance of hereditary rule of Okinawa under the heirs to the royal family of Ryūkyū.
Shō Yūkō Ginowan ueekata Chōho, also known more simply as Giwan Chōho, was a Ryukyuan government official and emissary; at the time of the Meiji Restoration in Japan, he was a member of the Sanshikan, the Council of Three top government ministers in the Ryūkyū Kingdom.
Urasoe yōdore is one of the three royal mausoleums of the Ryukyu Kingdom, along with Tamaudun at Shuri Castle and Izena Tamaudun near Izena Castle in Izena, Okinawa. It is located in Urasoe, Okinawa, in a cave on a cliff to the northeast of Urasoe Castle. It houses the remains of three rulers of the Ryukyu Islands, along with one king of the Ryūkyū Kingdom separated from the others by several centuries.
Tamagusuku Ueekata Chōkun, also known by the Chinese-style name Shō Juyū, was a Ryūkyūan aristocrat-bureaucrat credited with the creation of the Ryūkyūan dance-drama form known as kumi odori.
Imperial Chinese missions to the Ryukyu Kingdom were diplomatic missions which were intermittently sent by the Yuan, Ming and Qing emperors to Shuri, Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands. These diplomatic contacts were within the Sinocentric system of bilateral and multinational relationships in East Asia.
Shō Tei was the 11th King of the Second Shō Dynasty of the Ryukyu Kingdom, who held the throne from 1669 until his death in 1709. He was the ruler of Ryukyu at the time of the compiling of the Chūzan Seifu.
The second Shō clan ruled the Ryukyu Kingdom from 1469 to 1879, under the title of King of Chūzan. This clan took the clan name from the earlier rulers of the kingdom, the first Shō clan, even though the new royal family has no blood relation to the previous one. Until the abolition of Japanese peerage in 1947, the head of the family was given the rank of marquess while several cadet branches held the title of baron.