The Nakijin Castle Ruins (今帰仁城跡, Nakijinjōato) are located on the Motobu Peninsula of northern Okinawa Honto and are among the UNESCO World Heritage designated Castles of the Ryukyu Kingdom. In contrast to other castles on Okinawa, Nakijin Castle stands in an area of low population density with lush forests, that bestow the ruins with a unique atmosphere.
Nakijin Castle was built in the late 1200s. During the Sanzan Period (1322-1429), Okinawa Honto was divided into three kingdoms: the Hokuzan in the north, the Chuzan in the middle and the Nanzan in the south. Nakijin served as the castle of the Hokuzan king until it was taken over by the Chuzan on their way to unifying the island and forming the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Besides the castle ruins stands the Nakijin Village History and Culture Center with a small museum displaying items unearthed on the castle grounds, such as Chinese pottery, coins and documents. There are also exhibits about everyday life and culture of Nakijin Village.
By Yanbaru Express Bus
The Yanbaru Express Bus directly connects the airport and city center of Naha with Nakijin Castle. Get off at Nakijin Joseki Iriguchi (今帰仁城跡入口), from where it is a 15-20 minute walk uphill to the castle ruins. The one way trip takes about 2.5 hours and costs around 2000 yen. There are six round trips per day. In central Naha, the bus stops at the Prefectural Office (県庁北口), Tomari Port and Furujima Station along the Yurail monorail among other locations.
By regular buses
Take highway bus number 111 from Naha to Nago Bus Terminal (90 minutes, 2100 yen from Naha Bus Center; 105 minutes, 2190 yen from Naha Airport; 1-2 buses/hour) and transfer to bus number 65 or 66 that run counterclockwise and clockwise respectively in a loop around the peninsula. Get off at Nakijin Joseki Iriguchi (今帰仁城跡入口, 45-60 minutes, 790-1000 yen, 1-2 buses per hour), from where it is a 15-20 minute walk uphill to the castle ruins.
By car, take the Okinawa Expressway from Naha all the way to its northern end near Nago (1020 yen one way) and then follow regular roads across the Motobu Peninsula to the Nakijin Castle Ruins. In total, the journey takes about two hours one way (more during rush hours).