Recently, I came upon a rather interesting place in Naha, just above the north side of Kokusai-dori 国際通り. It seemed like mysterious entrance gates from the outside… so I decided to look further. It is on the site of a public park, Sogen-ji park.
Sogen-ji 崇元寺 (perhaps also written as Sohgenji, Sogenji, or Sougenji) was a Buddhist temple and royal mausoleum during the Ryukyu kingdom era, built during the reign of King Sho Shin in the 15th century, but unfortunately like many other important landmarks it fell victim to the ravages of the Battle of Okinawa (WWII) and was destroyed.
You can see in the picture some info about “dismounting tablets.” Apparently stone tablets with instructions for anyone entering the temple grounds (including the king himself) had to dismount to enter the temple on foot out of respect for previous rulers. On the temple grounds, stone gates, foundations, and walls are pretty much all the remain. Of the two stone tablets set outside on either side of the gates to warn visitors to dismount, only one is still remaining.
Though the royal memorial tablets were enshrined in Sogen-ji for many centuries, the actual royal remains were entombed in the Tama-udun mausoleum, just a short distance from Shuri-jo (castle). Spirit tablet of three royalties were placed here: Sho Shoku (尚 稷), father of King Sho En; Sho Kyu (尚 久), father of King Sho Ho; and Sho I (尚 懿), father of King Sho Nei.
This spot has an interesting history, and within the ruins is sort of a spiritual feeling. This is likely contributed by the large “Gajumaru” (banyan tree) ガジュマル, that it is said the Kijimuna (tree spirits) キジムナー live. Some people burn incense and pray under these types of trees, which you can see at this location as well… just take a peek where there is a small altar nestled among the branches. Overall, it is not a very large area, but if you are near Kokusai-dori, it is an interesting and peaceful yet quick stop to check out.