Chibana Castle Ruins is one of the forgotten castle sites here on Okinawa. It’s location might surprise you being that it is only a short drive out of Kadena Air Base’s Gate 3. Chances are you many people drive by it every day and don’t even know it’s there. Nevertheless with a little bit of luck you can find it.
The site is not difficult to get to and is marked with signs although they are in Japanese. Once you arrive you will see that there is a decent size area for parking. The site itself lacks the spender that you may find at other castle ruins which I anticipate is due to lack of funding, time and interest.
There are still signs in place which show what ceremonies were (and possibly still are) practiced in the area however one of the signs which explains the area is now no longer present. The sign once said:
CHIBANA GUSUKU (CASTLE)
This castle was build on a hill 88 meters above sea level in the era of Gusuku and is a site where much Chinese earthware, porcelain, etc. has been unearthed. It is an important region geologically and botanically as it is located at the point where distinctive kind of soil of Northern Okinawa edges the distinctive kind of soil found in the South. It is also the place where Uni-Ufugusuku, a martial arts expert, lived in his later years in the 15th century.
Unlike other castle ruins that you may be familiar with this site has a bit of a different layout. The first thing that you will see when visiting the castle site is a small staircase which leads up to a bed of coral and shells. If you look closely you can see that there is a small alter here. As depicted in the sign you can tell that this is an area where ceremonies take place.
You can go up the small staircase, very carefully, however it will lead you to only this small area. To get to the actual height of the castle site you will need to start down the path which is off to your right. A staircase will lead you up through the foliage towards the top of this hill which sits in the middle of the city. There are a lot of stairs which lead to the top and the climb is not safe for children as some areas lack handrails and stairs are very steep and narrow.
Once arriving at the top you will see that there is some sort of structure. Just a few more stairs and you will find yourself at the top of the hill looking over the entire city from all sides. Like other castle ruins this is a spectacular view on a clear day, it’s almost like you can see forever.
On our way back down the stairs I saw a sign which seems to indicate that this structure may have been built in the 60’s. Unfortunately the kanji is a bit too difficult for me to translate entirely so I am not entirely sure but if I find out any information regarding this I will be sure to share it with you in the future.
Sites like this always make me wonder what it is that has caused them to become so deserted. After returning home I did my best to research the area but it was very difficult to find much more then I already knew. One of the interesting things that I did find, however, is that according to some of the local residents the site is haunted. As some of the information I found was in Japanese it is not entirely clear to me what the story is but there were at least 5 separate mentions. There is also mention of a house which is near the area and considered to be haunted however we found no such house on the site. There was, however, a plot of land where a house was being built. Could this be the reason that this location has become so forgotten?
As for me I have a few speculations as to why the site has been forgotten but they all seem to end with more questions than answers. For now I suppose that the Chibana Castle Ruins will remain a mystery at least to me.
This site is old, in disrepair and in some areas can be dangerous. Please proceed with caution and watch your step. I do NOT recommend visiting this site on a rainy day or when it has rained recently.