Shuri Castle is a Ryukyuan castle (or gusuku) in Shuri, Okinawa. It was the palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom. In 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa, it was almost completely destroyed. Beginning in 1992, it was reconstructed on the original site based on photographs, historical records, and memory.
The date of construction is uncertain, but it was clearly in use as a castle during the Sanzan period (1322–1429). It is thought that it was probably built during the Gusuku period, like the other castles of Okinawa. When King Shō Hashi unified the three sections of Okinawa and established the Ryūkyū Kingdom, he used Shuri Castle as a residence. At the same time, Shuri flourished as the capital and continued to do so during the second Sho dynasty.
For 450 years from the beginning of the 15th century, it was the royal court and administrative center of the Ryukyuan Kingdom. It was the focal point of foreign trade, as well as the political, economic, and cultural heart of the Ryukyus.
According to records, Shuri Castle was burned down several times, but rebuilt each time. Before World War II, it was designated a national treasure. However, during the war, the Japanese military set up its headquarters in the castle underground, and, beginning on May 25, 1945, the American battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41) shelled it for three days. On May 27, it burned. After the battle, a Confederate battle flag (which personally belonged to the company commander) was hoisted above the castle by the "Rebel Company" A of the 5th Marine Regiment. It was visible for over two miles and stayed above the castle for three days until it was removed by General Simon B. Buckner, Jr. (son of Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.), who stated that Americans from all parts of America helped to win the battle.
After the war, the University of the Ryukyus moved to the castle site, where it remained until 1975. In 1958, the Shureimon gate was reconstructed and, in 1992, the main building of the castle was reconstructed. At present, the entire area around the castle has been established as Shuri Castle Park. In 2000, along with other gusuku and related sites, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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