The second residence of the Ryukyu Kings during the 18th century was a 42,000-square meter property known as Shikinaen Royal Garden. Its size was considered to be the largest of all secondary homes built during that time. It also became the place where high-ranking foreign officials were accommodated and entertained.
The gardens were primarily laid out in 1799 as a way of adorning the second home of the royal family. It can be found on a small hill to the south of Shuri Castle, the palace of Ryukyu Kingdom, in Okinawa. It contains a large circular pond with two small islands featuring Chinese-style hexagonal pavilions. It also consisted of arched bridges, a wooden palace, an observatory, a guard house and seasonal plantings of wisteria, plum and bell flowers. This design was claimed to be a blend of both Japanese and Chinese features unique to Ryukyuan culture.
During the Battle of Okinawa, the garden was completely devastated. The restoration was only started in 1975 which took 20 years to complete and entailed a great expense of 800 million yen. The gardens were designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty in 1976 and were re-designated as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty in 2000.
The palace building was built in a wooden structure which can be seen near the pond’s shore. The interior floors are covered with tatami while the whole place overlooks the garden. This place used to serve as the entertainment area of the royal family.
The garden is best enjoyed if you put away your electronics while having a relaxing walk which is an ideal romantic journey. You can surely admire the neatly groomed groves and architectural beauty of the whole place. The scenic views are a stress reliever which can bring out the best photographer in you. Everyone just wants to take as many pictures as they can of every angle!
The beauty of a second home can be clearly seen in Shikinaen Royal Garden. It visibly shows how the Japanese culture of adorning homes shaped over the years.