The Tamaudun Mausoleum (玉陵) was erected at the beginning of the 16th century. As a mausoleum for the Ryukyu Kingdom’s royal dynasty. After sustaining considerable damage during the war, it was repaired. The mausoleum is within a short walk from Shuri Castle. And is one of the UNESCO World Heritage recognized Ryukyu Kingdom Castles and Related Sites.
The tomb is divided into three closed chambers: one on the left for kings and queens. One on the right for princes and princesses. And one in the center for keeping freshly departed remains. Until a bone cleansing procedure is completed a few years later.
The stone balustrades in front of the tomb are embellished with carvings of mythological monsters. Like dragons and phoenixes and themes common in Chinese art, such as lions and lotuses. Shurijo Castle has similar embellishments.
Three stone pedestals topped with lion sculptures keep watching at the center and on either side of the burial chamber. As if guarding the royals who slumber within. In the mausoleum’s central courtyard. There is also an engraved stele that is said to be the oldest kana (Japan’s phonetic alphabet) inscription. The sculptures and the stele are composed of diabase, a rugged igneous rock.
The Sho Dynasties
Two separate Sho Dynasties governed the Ryukyu Kingdom. The Sho family, which included Ryukyu Kingdom unifier Sho Hashi (1372–1439), formed the first dynasty in 1406. The first dynasty reigned from 1469 until 1469. Kanemaru, a court subordinate, created the second dynasty. By adopting the Sho name and ruling the country as Sho En (1415–1476).
The second dynasty reigned for 410 years until the islands were annexed by Japan in 1879. At Tamaudun, only the royalty of the second Sho Dynasty is interred.
Opening Hours – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm – (last entry at 5:30 pm)
Closed – never, open the whole year
Admission Fee – Adults: 300yen