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The Real Ruins at Nakagusuku Castle April 19, 2010

Posted by Jojo in History.
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A few months ago at the beginning of our trip, Elisa’s brother Allan and I stumbled upon a mysterious abandoned hotel behind Nakagusuku Castle. The sign in Japanese probably said something like: “あぶない!はいるない!” But of course neither of us are able to read Kanji, so naturally we started to explore the inside.

The whole place was gutted and filled with graffiti, but it felt a hell of a lot scarier than similar places I’ve been to back home. Mostly there were guest rooms with beds, but also gigantic deep-soak tubs and a few large reception halls. Curiously none of the rooms had sufficient natural lighting (or none at all), leading me to believe that it must have been a mega-brothel for Vietnam-era American soldiers.

After crossing a modest-sized bridge and passing a tradition Japanese style gate (now it might as well have been Spirited Away. I was spooked!), we entered the second section of the hotel. It towered high over Nakagusuku Castle, but didn’t appear to be more than a concrete shell. It was perhaps a parking lot, because there was a small car in the basement floor, which looked like it was doused in gasoline and scorched. The view from the top was as Allan’s dad best described, “commanding,” allowing one to look out in all directions over the entire island.

Yeah, it was amazing.

Unfortunately we lacked a proper camera to document the experience completely, so we had planned to go back again and get new shots of some pieces, throw ups, the view, the burnt up car, and the eerie おはか-esque grave entrances. But then suddenly Allan’s time in Okinawa had run out and Elisa and I moved from Kitanakagusuku to Urasoe to begin an English teaching internship.

About a month later on a fishing trip in Motobu, I asked Ben the English teacher about the real ruins behind Nakagusuku Castle. He said that the place was seriously dangerous and that I never should have entered. Apparently it was never a functioning establishment, because every time anyone tried to finish construction on the building, the owner died. He regaled us with stories of friends who wandered in and had come out cursed for life, encountering all sorts of ghosts and spirits in the outside world. Okinawans are definitely superstitious, but I believed his stories. That place was fucking scary.

Now Elisa and I are staying in Okinawa City, which is a mere 10-minute bus ride from Kitanakagusuku and the Nakagusuku Castle ruins. Since Allan and I emerged unscathed and without curse from the hotel, I had been considering going back soon to take proper photographs with my digital camera. But last night I had a seriously disturbing dream about the consequence of re-entering:

I was in my hometown of Berkeley, California with a few friends from Okinawa, Danny DeVito from “It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia,” and a few other random old dudes. We came across a ruined hotel filled with trash, similar to the one behind Nakagusuku Castle, and we went in to explore it. My friend Hiroaki claimed to see ghosts of his grandparents in the walls from the Battle of Okinawa, and we decided to high-tail it out of there. All of us having been thoroughly freaked-the-fuck-out decided never to go back again.

The next day my mom told me that my cousin Eliza got caught on a steel door inside of the hotel and she needed help getting out. I set out with the same boys as before, and when we arrived at the scene, five women walked out of the hotel onto a dilapidated balcony and started toward us. Two of them were blond Americans, two of them Okinawan, one of them an old woman of mixed race. We were enticed by the strange women and somehow ended up back on University Avenue at a Japanese izakaya.

I sensed that there was some sort of danger in staying with these girls (yet somehow completely forgot about my cousin) and began to try to ditch them. Luckily, Katya, my friend from Berkeley High School walked in at just that moment. I quickly explained that this restaurant was filled with ghosts and spirits trying to curse me for life and begged her to yell at the Okinawan girl who had locked arms with me, pretending to be my real girlfriend or something. She agreed and I successfully ditched all my friends and their bad company.

I was at ease again and I stopped in a public bathroom to relieve myself. I noticed that I had forgotten to put my shoes back on (in most traditional Japanese restaurants you remove your shoes) and jacket. My feet felt pretty gross on the floor. After I took a piss, a different pair of shoes appeared on the floor and the room started to fill with random garbage. I tried to put on the shoes but for some reason they kept appearing back in the same place as they were before.

Katya and I had trash bags full of arbitrary shit and walked up University Ave in socks only. Suddenly walking became rather hard and my sensory organs began to shut down. I lost my eyesight, hearing, touch, smell, and the taste in my mouth. I was left with only an ambiguous painful ting somewhere in blackness.

I know that sounds REALLY lame, but seriously that was some frightening business. I still don’t think I’m cursed, but it was probably a stern warning from the greater spirits at Nakagusuku’s hotel ruins to stay away.



1. Allan Hough - April 19, 2010


Jojo - April 20, 2010

new band name!

2. tn - April 20, 2010

If you’re interested, check out this other “haunted” locations in Okinawa!


Jojo - April 21, 2010

woah thanks, this is a pretty comprehensive list!
i’ll definitely look into checking some of these out, also i’ll repost this on the main page. great list!

3. okidu - April 20, 2010

Akisamio! Sugoi yume. I think you’re becoming Okinawan – the spirit world is very much a part of their real world! You’re right about the dream’s warning – stay away! Tari says when he was there with you guys he got an eerie feeling- that’s why he didn’t want to go any further and left before you got to the top.

4. Eric - April 20, 2010

Ah! The Kogen hotel! The “Haunted Hotel” story on the page tn linked is the exact place you’re talking about.
i think i still have a business card from there, we found a stack of them in the office area. that was one of my hangouts back in high school.

saw it again for the first time in like 10 years back in 2007, definitely not as scary as it used to be – there used to be beds, hay in the stables, the occasional toilet that wasn’t shattered, nowhere near as much graffiti, more stuff in the office (where we got the business cards), and more stuff in the front lounge that looks out to the castle (they’ve now got some anti-communist billboard on the roof of this part).

The first time i went in like 95 it was pitch black and scarier than heck!

The last time some friends and I went in 97, one of our friends cut his hand when we were jumping the walls over by that huge water slide.

There’s a section off of the site that has a ridiculous number of buddhist paper blessing hanging from the trees in this one clearing.

There was an old monk that used to live near that temple (the 5 story concrete structure). Was hanging around once kinda close to his shack. There was a section that i think had been a very large tatami – the frame of it being a good foot or so above the concrete. Trash all over the place. Poking through it, I stumbled across some china ware/dishes wrapped in newspaper. It had been there a loooong time and wasn’t the monk’s. Took home one of the saucers as a souvenir, but when i was back at school i guess my mom threw it away, she didn’t know anything about it when i asked though.

There’s a lot of stories about that place. I didn’t hear that tourists were captured. Only that it was a brothel at some point. Also that it was the developer that flipped out, that he chained people up in the cave under the rock between the castle & the hotel. I’ve driven by his insane asylum, can’t remember if it’s in awase or naha.

I’ve also been in the cave. Inside, it’s hard to describe. Around the walls, where the walls met the floor, they would never meet – just descend to a lower level. There used to be a rope that went down to the lower level. My friends went down and snapped the rope in 97. I remember having to meet up with them later because they couldn’t get back up; like over by the castle. I think the cave is closed up now, with the castle being a national historical site.

The first time i was there i got the hebeejebies. The time when my friend cut his hand, i felt something was a little off, but nothing that made me scared/nervous. The last time i went it was almost a serene feeling.

To be honest, maeda point at night was worse. This was waaay back when the parking light went almost up to the scenic view, before the dive shop and snack bar and all that. That was the worst “I gotta get outta here” feeling I’ve ever had. It was only later that i found out that some of the ghosts of ladies/schoolgirls that jumped from the cliffs like to assault blonde guys on the cliffs at night.

Jojo - April 21, 2010

I poked my head into the cave, it was too dark to see anything though. And agreed, the graffiti definitely makes the whole thing easier to digest. Especially the dude who wrote “I died up here” and then put a Japanese Soft Bank phone number next to it, haha. Sounds legitimately creepy back in ’95.

And seriously? Seems like the Okinawan prefectural government would be the only government that would take big pains to make sure a big tourist spot like that wouldn’t be haunted. I guess Gaijin and Americans aren’t getting cut any slack.

Also, mind if I repost this up on the front site? Great story and insightful write up, for certain!

Eric - April 22, 2010

Sure, your’s to use however you want. 🙂

BTW – “seriously?…” is that in regards to Maeda? I don’t know if it’s haunted anymore. I was talking about back before they started charging for parking, when the parking lot was much bigger, and when that building on the left side (bathroom?) was still under construction. I think there was a hospital pretty near by that’s supposed to be haunted as well.

FYI – half of that japanupdate link was based on a popular book they used to sell at the USO. It’s the same book where I found out about the Maeda thing (a few months after my experience) and it has a bunch of other stories in it as well – like Tako o-Yama road, where the racers used to race all the time & if you’re going to fast, ghost hands are supposed to reach up from the floor and grab your feet.


5. kevin w - January 7, 2011

1973. I was at the old castle at night, walking up the path towards the step to the arch. There was a large glow hovering above the steps. My freind saw it too and started ranting. Later we learned of the local lore about the queens ghost. The queens well is just beyond the gate. Stone steps spiral about 60 feet down a steep depression to a small pool.

We “partyed” out there every weekend night for years. Was never really scary to us. We stumbled aroung all the jungle paths below the walls and the primitive little zoo that they had going there. Great fun. Wish I could go back someday.

6. kevin w - January 7, 2011

link to wikipedia – local religion and sprits


7. kevin w - January 7, 2011

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