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Visit Shikinaen, the largest second residence of the Ryukyu royal family. Come stroll the grounds with James Knott as he ...
explores the history and architecture of this World Heritage Site.
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When the Ryukyu Royal family needed a break, they traveled about a mile south to their largest vacation home, Shikinaen. This peaceful garden sits atop a hill in the Shikina section of Naha. Built in 1799, this residence had it’s heyday in the 1800s when the Ryukyu royal family used this second home to entertain envoys of the Chinese Emperor. Shikinaen is a circular landscape garden that became popular in Japan amongst feudal lords, but it has subtropical plants and several Chinese influences that make it uniquely Ryukyuan. A hexagonal Chinese-styled gazebo called Rokkaku-do sits on an island in the pond and can be reached by crossing a small bridge. Shikinaen is a great place to take a stroll. A path circles the pond and takes you over two Chinese- styled bridges. The water in the pond is provided by a spring and boating was once a popular activity for visitors. The Udun or palace is the largest building on the grounds and has a distinctive, Ryukyuan red-tiled roof. There were separate spaces for the carriers and hired help along with a guard house. Like many of Okinawa’s historical treasures, Shikinaen was destroyed in World War II’s battle of Okinawa. However, it has been completely restored and makes you feel like you’re back in the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Up next, the royal tombs of Tama-Udun. Don’t forget to head to my website StrayCompass.com for more great travel adventures. Thanks for watching. I’m James Knott. Goodbye.