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Izena gusuku

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  • Type: Okinawan gusuku
  • Built: 14th century(?), Samekawa
  • Status: Ruins
  • Japanese: 伊是名城 (Izena gusuku)

Izena gusuku is a fortress located on the island of Izena, a small island about 17 km in circumference, which lies roughly 23 kilometers north of Okinawa Island. The fortress sits on a limestone outcropping on the southeast side of the island, about 100 meters above sea level.

The gusuku is said to have been built by Samekawa, grandfather of Shô Shishô, king of Chûzan, and thus great-grandfather of Shô Hashi, who united Okinawa and established the Kingdom of Ryûkyû. Samekawa is said to have been sent to Izena by his father, Yagura, lord of neighboring Iheya Island.

The fortress is defended on three sides by sheer cliffs - one to the east, dropping down to the sea, and cliffs to the south and west as well. The fortress is thus approached from the north side, where steps have been cut into the hillside. Walls of uncut, piled pieces of coral limestone three meters high divide the site into several enclosures. These enclosures include several utaki, sacred spaces of the native Ryukyuan religion, where excavations have revealed celadons, Sueki wares, and other imported objects, as have been found at most gusuku sites.

Izena-Tamaudun, a royal mausoleum for Shô Shishô, his wife, and daughter (i.e. the father, mother, and sister of King Shô Hashi), is located at the foot of the hill.

References

  • Kitahara Shûichi. A Journey to the Ryukyu Gusuku 琉球城紀行。 Naha: Miura Creative, 2003. p107.
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