Nicole teaches at two different locations for the Red Roof English School. One is very close to her apartment in Ginowan
and the other is a little bit farther away in Kitanakagusuku
. Near to this school are two popular historic sites, the Nakamura-ke house and the Nakagusuku Castle ruins, so we decided that on this day I would drive with her to school and make my way to see both those sites. It seems crazy, but we are already running out of days where Nicole is not in school!
The Nakamura-ke is a traditional Okinawa-style house that was built for the Nakamura family back in the 18th century.
The open rooms of the Nakamurake
It has been restored to its original style by the government and is now run as a historical site. One of Nicole's bosses, Kazue, is actually a Nakamura and grew up in the house with her family. Nicole actually got a personal tour from Kazue and she told her where the TV used to be and how her and her cousins used to climb onto the roof and run around. It seems amazing to me that someone lived in this house not long ago! Living in a traditional-style house is just so different from anything else. All the walls open up and tatami mats cover almost all the floors. Everything is very simple and plain, although I'm sure it looked a lot different before it was restored. I had a great time just exploring the rooms and the gardens around the house and taking pictures of everything.
It was really a perfect day to go there and I just took my time to see everything and get some good pictures.
After some complimentary tea in the gift shop, I made the short walk to the Nakagusuku Castle ruins. This castle was part of the Ryukyu Empire (same as Shuri) but it has not been rebuilt. What is left has been well preserved though and it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Behind the large area that makes up the castle ruins there is also the skeletons of what would have been a buddhist temple and another modern cement building. I have heard two different renditions of the story of those buildings.
One is that a rich Japanese man began to build the temple in the early 1900s and he either didn't have the money to finish it or during WWII the Japanese military made him sell the land to them because it is on one of the highest points on the island and from up there you can see the oceans on either side of the island.
So right in front of the unfinished Buddhist temple there is a military installment that has now been abandoned for many years.
The other story is that the building in front of the temple is the old Royal Hotel which was built by an eccentric rich businessman. However, it was abandoned when the nearby monks began warning him that he was building too close to an area with bad spirits. Many of the construction works left and the stories go that the businessman had some bad fortune, went bankrupt and then went insane.
I believe that it was once the Royal Hotel (hence the sign on the front), however, maybe before the building was redone into a hotel it was a military installment. Either way, it is said to be haunted. Not one to pass up a spooky place, I ventured into the building after I walked around Nakagusuku Castle.
Hallway inside the Royal Hotel
It's basically hallways filled with graffiti, broken furniture, glass, and wood. It's pretty eerie in there, as most abandoned buildings are, but I unfortunately didn't find any ghosts. I wish I wasn't by myself or I would have explored more. Creepy old places like that are fascinating, especially ones with good stories. Apparently, there are a lot of those types of places on Okinawa that I won't have time to venture to, but it was fun to see this one.