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Gushikawa gusuku (Kume)

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  • Type: Okinawan gusuku
  • Status: Ruins
  • Japanese: 具志川(Gushikawa gusuku)

Gushikawa gusuku was a fortress located on a promontory on the northwest coast of the island of Kumejima, the westernmost point in the islands immediately surrounding Okinawa, about 100 km west of Naha, and facing the East China Sea.

It was first built by Madafutsu anji, and later fell to Manikudaru, the second son of Ishikinawa anji. The Ryûkyû-koku yurai-ki relates that a peasant from Nakachi village, named Nakachi-niya, discovered the site when going up into the hills to find firewood. He informed Madafutsu anji (who is said to have been an outsider and an invader, though from where is unclear), who was at the time building a fortress at Aona-misaki, of the excellent defensive qualities of this hill, and Madafutsu anji then built his fortress here instead.

The castle was then destroyed entirely in the late 15th century, after Kume came under the control of the newly united/established Kingdom of Ryûkyû.

The main gate, known as Tiger's Mouth Gate, faced southeast. Cliff drops about 20 meters high defended the site from all other sides. Stone walls of uncut, piled andesite and Ryukyuan limestone survive today, dividing the site into four enclosures which rise higher as one moves deeper into the grounds, to the northwest. The innermost section, once used as a watchtower, remains a site of worship today, as do several other spots within the grounds.

Porcelains and ceramics from China and elsewhere have been found here, as they have at most gusuku, suggesting an involvement in overseas trade. However, as Kumejima is a bit more isolated than the gusuku on Okinawa Island proper, it can be assumed that this gusuku was more directly involved in overseas trade than many on Okinawa, which may have simply obtained their import goods from other ports. The fact that there is a place nearby named "Yamato-domari," or "Japan port," would seem to support this notion.

The castle was designated a National Historic Site in 1975.

Other fortresses by the same name, including one in Itoman City, on Okinawa Island, are said to have been founded by lords (anji) of this fortress on Kumejima.

References

  • "Gushikawa jôseki." Okinawa konpakuto jiten (沖縄コンパクト事典, "Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia"). Ryukyu Shimpo. 1 March 2003. Accessed 24 May 2011.
  • Kitahara Shûichi. A Journey to the Ryukyu Gusuku 琉球城紀行。 Naha: Miura Creative, 2003. p103.
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