グスク gusuku: in Japanese, it is actually 城 (shiro), meaning “castle.” Though I have recently learned that the entomology of the word “gusuku” is controversial, and could have come about several ways. Anyway, if you see the word “gusuku” in Okinawa, it typically refers to a stone castle or fortress type structure (in ruins these days), surrounded by stone walls. The famous ones remain somewhat intact whereas these smaller ones rarely have anything but traces of stones and foundations.
In Okinawa, most of these gusuku are just the ruins. I previously made a post about some of the more common gusuku ruins sites. Tanabaru gusuku, however, is not well known and quite hidden away in Nishihara. Thought to be honest, there is not much to see.
On a whim, I decided to follow the map to where these supposed ruins were near to the university. So I got in my car and followed the directions… I started to doubt that the GPS was taking me to the right location. The last road I turned onto was not really much of a road, even for Okinawa. I started to feel a bit concerned.
But then… ! I seemingly reached a fielded area and a sign post! Some success already. Apparently, GoogleMaps was correct after all. As to where to park… well… it is an empty field, so just pull over I suppose is fine.
The were only very few trace remains of the gusuku itself, and following the path I was able to find a place of worship. The location was high on top of a hill, but was fairly overgrown, so the view was a little bit difficult to see. To be honest though… this place had a strange feel, and I am not normally superstitious. There were a few tombs around, but that is common in Okinawa… it had sort of an abandoned feel to it I guess (despite the signpost proudly proclaiming the site name looking new). I think there may be rumor of a ghost story in this location, but I am not sure yet. I will update if I find it.
It seems that some excavations of the ruins (finding items like pottery, etc.) have been done in the past according to the Nishihara town website. It originally was built by the brother of one of the lords, as a fortification. During and after the war, many of the stones were removed for quarry to be reused elsewhere, so there is very little remaining of walls and foundations that can be observed. If I have time, I may come back and do some more exploring of the area. I read on a Japanese site that there is some sort of trail nearby.