Castle ruins beat mere beer on Okinawa

Base Info
A group of local youth poses for photos in front of the Katsuren Castle ruins on Okinawa, Japan, on Jan. 25, 2015. The group dressed in period costume to perform dances and sing songs in honor of Lord Katsuren, the first lord of the castle in the 13th century. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tim Flack)
A group of local youth poses for photos in front of the Katsuren Castle ruins on Okinawa, Japan, on Jan. 25, 2015. The group dressed in period costume to perform dances and sing songs in honor of Lord Katsuren, the first lord of the castle in the 13th century. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tim Flack)

Castle ruins beat mere beer on Okinawa

by: Tim Flack, 18th Wing Public Affairs | .
Kadena Air Base | .
published: December 14, 2016

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Less than a beer -- that was my challenge last weekend. I wanted to explore Okinawa and find something cool to do that would cost less than one beer.

Why? Because some people here are wasting their time being wasted. Some people are throwing away a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience this wonderful island we all live on. And a few people are threatening to ruin it for the rest of us with their alcohol-fueled stupidity.

I wanted to prove that there are countless off-base adventures you can enjoy for less than the cost of a beer.

My weekend challenge took me about 300-feet above the coastline, peering out over limestone cliffs into the scenic distance from the ruins of Katsuren Castle.

The castle dates back to the 13th century, and was added to the World Heritage List in 2000. As my family and I slowly climbed our way through five separate areas, we were able to trace the incredible history translated into English on various plaques.

We learned that the castle had been passed down through 10 lords, from the original Lord Katsuren through Lord Awamari in the mid-15th century. Awamari resisted the monarch of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and suffered a crushing defeat attempted when trying to take Shuri Castle.  His own Katsuen Castle was destroyed in a counter-attack in 1458, and was never rebuilt.

Standing atop the ruins, gazing out over Kin Bay to the north, and the Chinen Peninsula to the south, I was amazed by how majestic the site was.

I like to think that I won my challenge last weekend with a free trip to this castle. And now I'll challenge you to do the same.

Getting There
- Exit Kadena Gate 3 and turn right at the light on Route 74. (This is the road that follows the perimeter of the base).
- At the second light, turn left. (Route 74).
- Continue straight, and the road will turn into Route 16.
- Keep going straight; you'll start seeing signs for Kaichu-doro and Katsuren-jo.
- After about 10 minutes, you'll see the castle on the right side of the road. A parking lot and welcome center is located on the left side.