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Thursday, November 3, 2011

"The Sueyoshi Shrine of Naha City"

The Sueyoshi Shrine of Naha City

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Sueyoshi Shrine

     N 26 13.804E 127 42.846

The Sueyoshi Shrine of Naha City

This commanding structure is the Sueyoshi Shrine. It lies prominently high at the Sueyoshi Park of Naha City and can also be seen from a distance at the grounds of Shuri Castle. The path to get there can be quite a trek depending where you start. You have several options however. Please see the post on 'The Sueyoshi Forest Park' for detailed instructions on how to get there and where to park. Around the shrine itself is a network of trails, burial tombs, and sacred prayer sites interspersed along the hillside. If you visit, chances are you may see families or Holy people paying their respects along these trails. If you happen to walk upon such a private gathering, just keep a  proper distance or avoid it all together and you should be fine. It is understood that people come to see the main shrine itself.  A sense of quietness should be maintained at all times as you enjoy the tranquility of nature and peace that accompanies the area.

The shrine's origin can somewhat be explained by a stone marker along the path that was also translated in English. It reads...
The Sueyoshi Shrine, commonly called 'Shadan' was a guardian shrine of the Taikei-zan Manjuji Temple. According to tradition, the Kumano Gongens (Shinto Avatars) were enshrined here during the reign of King Sho Taikyu (1454-1460).
The stairway laid with Ryukyu limestone leads up the stone to the main shrine. The main shrine, one of Japan's National Treasures before World War II, was entirely destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The site is a place of scenic beauty as well. The Shrine  building was restored in 1972.
March 1990
Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education,
Naha City Board of Education.  
The explanation does give insight to its origin but also gives rise to more questions about the details. For example, the only reference I could find about the Manjuji Temple was of a Buddhist Temple in Kyoto, Japan (see source). So being very far away from the Ryukyu Kingdom, it is not sure what is meant that the Sueyoshi Shrine (a Shinto Shrine) was considered a  'guardian shrine' of a Buddhist temple, if this is indeed the temple. This may give insight to somewhat of a complex, yet compatible and peaceful integration of both the Shintoism and Buddhism as religion was becoming more and more popular in old Japan. Perhaps it is important to understand the human aspect of the Japanese people and the context of those times as well as religion was being spread throughout Asia. 

More information on the Sueyoshi Shrine can also be found  here.

Reader's Note. There are two buildings to this shrine. One lies behind the other. I am not sure of the particular significance one has over the other. Also keep in mind that some of the stone paths are uneven, so please watch your footing as you walk,.. and recommend avoiding any unbeaten side trails if you encounter them.

Other places of interest nearby: The Sueyoshi Forest Park, The Tomb of Ginowan Udun.


  1. A very useful and inspiring post. My daughter and I visited the Sueyoshi Shrine a few days ago after reading your article. We got off the Yui at Gibo Station, entered the park from the top, walked downhill for awhile. then cut to the right via a very small, muddy path. We passed some very interesting prayer sites to local kami, then eventually found the main shrine. It seemed very simple and beautiful.

  2. Neveridol, I'm glad you got a chance to visit the Shrine. The nature surrounding this location is what makes this place really special. I hope you get to see some other beautiful places on Okinawa. Gambaru Yo!