Nakagusuku Castle: A Tale of Loyalty and Betrayal


When I was in Okinawa several years ago, I paid a visit to Nakagusuku Castle.  This is an interesting ruin, with still impressive walls and fortifications.  While it may well have changed some from when I made the visit decades ago, more recent photographs seem to indicate that the site is still virtually unchanged.

Apart from the views and impressive stonework, the story behind the castle is enthralling.  Here is one variation of the tale as it was told to me.

King Sho Taikyu of the Ryukyus ruled over a kingdom divided by ambitious nobles. Chief of these was Amawari who had power in the north.  The loyal Lord Gosamaru, built the impressive Nakagusuku Castle as a buffer between the king and Amawari.

In 1458 CE, Amawari went to the king and told him that Gosamaru had built the fortress, not to defend, but to overthrow the king.  As a result Sho Taikyu  commissioned Amawari to lead the royal army against Nakagusuku to preempt any rebellion.

The king’s army arrived as Gosamaru was observing a moon viewing celebration, and seeing the approaching army flying royal banners, the loyal baron, rather than defying the king, committed suicide.

This was not the victory over his rival that Amawari had hoped.  For when Gosamaru’s head was taken to the king, a note was found in his mouth explaining Gosamaru’s treachery.  The king soon turned his armies against the Amawari’s stronghold, Katsuren Castle, and the baron was defeated and executed.

This again is a great story, and the ruins themselves a great site to visit if in Okinawa.



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