The gardens of Shikina-en are located on a small hill to the south of Shuri Castle in Naha, Okinawa. The gardens were laid out in 1799 to embellish one of the residences of the Sho family, rulers of the Ryukyu Kingdom. They were used for the reception of an envoy from China the following year. The residence and its gardens are also known as Shichina-nu-Udun or Southern Gardens, as opposed to the Eastern Gardens or Uchayaudun, laid out on a small hill east of Shuri Castle in 1677.
The stroll garden features a pond with two small islands; a Chinese-style hexagonal pavilion; other pavilions with red tiles, the use of which was reserved for the upper classes; Chinese-style arched bridges; and seasonal plantings of plum, wisteria, and bellflower. This blend of Japanese and Chinese design and features has been acclaimed as "Uniquely Ryukyuan" by UNESCO and advisory body ICOMOS.
The gardens were completely destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa. Restoration began in 1975 and took around twenty years.
First designated for protection in 1941 in accordance with the 1919 Law, in 1976 the gardens were once again designated a Place of Scenic Beauty. In 2000 they were redesignated a Special Place of Scenic Beauty and included within the inscription of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu. The gardens stretch over an area of 4.2 ha and the UNESCO nomination includes a buffer zone of a further 84.2 ha.