Bodies and Structures

Heritage - Nakagusuku Castle

Nakagusuku Castle was constructed during the mid-to-late 14th century, when several kingdoms struggled for dominance, marking a particularly turbulent time in Ryūkyū's history. Like most of the archipelago's archeological structures, the castle is made of coral limestone and impressively designed to account for both structural and aesthetic principles. 

In the early 1950s, much of Okinawa's cultural heritage remained in tatters from the devastation of the war. Shuri Castle, for example, had been completely destroyed. It's very likely that Nakagusuku was one of the few locations in the southern part of the main island where Americans like Gail could experience Okinawan archeological heritage. The plaque at the entrance to the castle, written in English, shows that this location was meant to draw in American soldier-tourists. The plaque and the opening of this space is also indicative of American government mandates that sought to spotlight Ryūkyūan history and identity as a Cold War strategy for carving the islands away from Japanese cultural and political dominance. 

"The steps of Nakagusuku"

"Entrance to Nakagusuku Castle"

Nakagusuku Castle Wall
The castle, and much of the Nakagusuku period construction, consists of two different construction styles: Nunozuni and Aikatazumi. Nunozuni style refers to stone blocks that are stacked in horizontal allignment, while Aikatazumi blocks often appear to be stacked hexagonally or randomly, as it appears in Gail's photo. In 2017, project team members returned to Okinawa to continue research. One group of students went to Nakagusuku Castle to try to find the exact location from which Gail took this photo of the wall, but the task proved difficult. Even measuring the intricate stonework and trying to match it with the photo did not result in positive identification. 
Of final note here is Gail's description, in which he compares the walls of Nakagusuku to those of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. However, Gail refers to the Emperor's palace "in Japan," rather than "in Tokyo," which seems to indicate that he understood Okinawa to be distinct from Japan proper. 

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