Monday, December 21, 2009

Castles & Garlic

The castle that Okinawa is most famous for would have to be Shuri Castle. Unlike many of the other ancient castles, Shuri-jo (as the Japanese call it) is the only one that has been restored to its original form while all of the others on the island (as far as I know) are only ruins today. The Shuri Castle site is located a little south of us in Naha, and we decided to take an impromptu trip down there last Sunday night, because we just weren't ready for our weekend to end! It was around sunset, so we got some really neat evening and night shots of the site.

Front Gate

We ended up parking in a pay lot for a few hundred yen and walked up to the castle, which was only about a 5 minute walk. The Shuri Castle site isn't just a castle. Its grounds also include some very pretty gardens, ponds, gates and stone walls. To get into the main castle and courtyard, we each had to pay 400 yen (about $8.00 for the both of us). We were able to take as many photographs as we wanted out in the courtyard, but inside the castle it was more strict. There were designated areas that allowed photography - about half of the interior was off limits. We also were asked to take off our shoes when we entered. They provided us with bags to carry our shoes in as we walked around, and I'm glad they let us go barefoot (as I'm not a big fan of the slippers some places provide).

The front of the main castle - some construction was being done on it while we were there

The inside of Shuri Castle (as well as the outside) was historic and beautiful! I especially loved the interior tatami areas with mats on the floors - this was one of the areas we were not able to photograph. The outdoor "porch" area was also cool with gorgeous views of Okinawa. They handed us an information pamphlet on Shuri Castle when we entered, so I'm going to share a bit of the history with you: Shuri Castle was apparently the palace of the whole Ryukyu Kingdom - probably why it is the only restored castle on the island? The Ryukyu Kingdom (for anyone wondering!) is another name for the Ryukyu Islands, which Okinawa is a part of. Shuri Castle was almost all destroyed in 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa, with only a few walls still partially standing. It was reconstructed in 1992 on the original castle site. All restorations were done according to historical records and photographs to look almost exactly as it did before the war.

The king's hat/crown

Matt and I in front of the king's thrown

Walking along the garden paths around the castle while we were leaving

One of my favorite photos of the night - a cute Japanese building on a perfectly still pond

A farther view of Shuri Castle up on the hillside, all lit up at night, over a river walk

After the castle, we made a stop for dinner at a unique little restaurant called Arin Krin, also called "The Garlic Restaurant" by many of the Americans here. I'm a firm believer that you can never have enough garlic in your life, so when I found out that there was a restaurant on Okinawa that was dedicated solely to garlic, I just had to try it out. And it was AMAZING! Depending on what you order, the portions can be a little small, making it perfect for ordering a bunch of different things and sharing. One of my favorite places to eat on the island for sure, and I can't wait to go back!


Garlic Fried Rice

Garlic, Chicken, Mushroom Pizza (THE BEST) & Fried Garlic (actual cloves of garlic battered, fried, and served with a Garlic Aioli Sauce - you really need to like garlic to like this one!)

Deep Fried Garlic Mashed Potatoes with melted cheese in the center ( I can't make this stuff up!)

I hope you enjoyed! Thanks for following!


1 comment:

  1. Interesting...Always the explorers-love that you didn't want the w/e to end! Nice to have a picture of the two of you! Love all the photography. Huge roots beneath the tree as you left the castle. And you've made me totally famished! Hmmm...garlic! I love it, but can't stand smelling it on people, so I avoid lots of it. To heck with it, I may have some this evening, however! xo Happy day after Christmas!