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Chinese-style bridges in Shikina-en

The gardens of Shikina-en (識名園?) are located on a small hill to the south of Shuri Castle in Naha, Okinawa.[1] The residence and its gardens are also known as Shichina-nu-Udun (シチナヌウドゥン?) or Southern Gardens (南苑?), as opposed to the Eastern Gardens (東苑?) or Uchayaudun (御茶屋御殿?), laid out on a small hill east of Shuri Castle in 1677.[2] In 1992 Hiroshi Shō, the great-grandson of Shō Tai, the last king of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, donated the royal mausoleum of Tamaudun and Shikina-en to the City of Naha.


The stroll garden features a pond with two small islands; a Chinese-style hexagonal pavilion; other pavilions with red tiles, the use of which was reserved for the upper classes; Chinese-style arched bridges; and seasonal plantings of plum, wisteria, and bellflower.[2][3] This blend of Japanese and Chinese design and features has been acclaimed as "uniquely Ryukyuan" by UNESCO and advisory body ICOMOS.[3][4]


The gardens were laid out in 1799 to embellish one of the residences of the Shō family, rulers of the Ryūkyū Kingdom; they were used for the reception of an envoy from China the following year.[5][6] First designated for protection in 1941 in accordance with the 1919 Law, they were completely destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa.[5] Restoration began in 1975 and took around twenty years, at a cost of some eight hundred million yen.[5] In 1976 the gardens were once again designated a Place of Scenic Beauty; in 2000 they were re-designated a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and included within the inscription of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu.[5][4][7] The gardens stretch over an area of 4.2 ha and the UNESCO nomination includes a buffer zone of a further 84.2 ha.[8]

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Coordinates: 26°12′16″N 127°42′55″E / 26.20444°N 127.71528°E / 26.20444; 127.71528


  • Mansfield, Stephen (2011). Japan's Master Gardens - Lessons in Space and Environment (Hardback). Tokyo, Rutland, Singapore: Tuttle. ISBN 978-4-8053-1128-8. 

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