Invasion of Ryukyu

The invasion of Ryukyu (琉球侵攻 Ryūkyū Shinkō) by forces of the Japanese feudal domain of Satsuma took place from March to May 1609, and marked the beginning of the Ryukyu Kingdom's status as a vassal state under Satsuma. The invasion force was met with stiff resistance from the Ryukyuan military on all but one island during the campaign. Ryukyu would remain a vassal state under Satsuma, alongside its already long-established tributary relationship with China, until it was formally annexed by Japan in 1879 as Okinawa Prefecture.

Invasion of Ryukyu
Map of Ryukyu Kingdom

Map of Ryukyu Kingdom
DateMarch–May 1609
Result Satsuma victory; Ryukyu becomes a vassal state
Ryūkyū Kingdom Ryukyu Kingdom Maru juji.svg Satsuma Domain of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Greater than 3,000 men; unknown number of ships 3,000 men in 100 ships
Casualties and losses
At least 1,500 No more than 500


The war was called the Disturbance of Kiyū (己酉ノ乱 Kiyū no ran) (1609 being a kiyū (己酉) year in the sexagenary cycle) or the Japanese Disturbance of Kiyū (己酉倭乱 Kiyū Wa ran) by the Ryukyu Kingdom.[1] In Japanese, the war was called the Ryukyu Expansion (琉球征伐 Ryūkyū Seibatsu) or the Ryūkyū iri (琉球入り, "entry into Ryukyu") during the Edo period,[2] and was called the Okinawa Expansion Campaign (征縄役 Sei Nawa no Eki) by many Japanese scholars before WWII.[3]


Satsuma's invasion of Ryukyu was the climax of a long tradition of relations between the kingdom and the Shimazu clan of Satsuma. The two regions had been engaged in trade for at least several centuries and possibly for far longer than that; in addition, Ryukyu at times had paid tribute to the Ashikaga shogunate (1336–1573) of Japan as it did to China since 1372.

In the final decades of the 16th century, the Shimazu clan, along with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who ruled Japan from 1582 to 1598, requested or demanded various types of aid or service from the kingdom on a number of occasions. King Shō Nei (r. 1587–1620) met some of these demands. Shō Nei sent a tribute ship, the Aya-Bune, to Satsuma in February or March, 1592,[4][5] and agreed to provide approximately half of his allocated burden in preparation for the invasion of Korea, in 1593.[6] However, Shō Nei also ignored many communications from Shimazu and Hideyoshi, which spurred the Shimazu, with the permission of the newly established Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1867), to invade Ryukyu in 1609, claiming it a punitive mission.

One of the chief events which spurred Satsuma to aggression occurred when Hideyoshi launched the first of two invasions of Korea. In 1591, Shimazu Yoshihisa said that "Hideyoshi ordered Ryukyu and Satsuma to contribute 15000 troops in order to invade China;[7] however, Ryukyu is a far country and Japanese military strategy is unfamiliar to your forces. I exempt you from mobilization of the troops. In exchange, however, you must supply 10 months' rations for 7000 troops.[8][9] " Sho Nei supplied only half in 1593.

Following Hideyoshi's death in 1598, and Tokugawa Ieyasu's subsequent rise to power, Shō Nei was asked by Satsuma to formally submit to the new shogunate, a request which was ignored. In 1603, some Ryukyu sailors were cast ashore on the coast of the Sendai domain. Tokugawa Ieyasu sent them back to Ryukyu.[10] The Shimazu asked Ryukyu to thank Ieyasu again, but Ryukyu ignored the request.[11][12] The Shimazu then requested to launch a punitive mission against Ryukyu. Approximately 100 ships carrying roughly 3,000 soldiers concentrated at Yamakawa harbor on March 1, 1609. Ichirai Magobee, who was one of them, would write a diary documenting the expedition. The fleet left harbor on March 4, under the command of Kabayama Hisataka and Hirata Masumune.


Amami Island

The Satsuma fleet arrived at Amami Ōshima on April 7, where the Amamian people did not resist, but assisted the Satsuma army. Tameten (笠利首里大屋子為転), the chief of Kasari, was a subject of Kabayama, and called on the Amamian people to surrender.[13] Shigetedaru (焼内首里大屋子茂手樽), the chief of Yakiuchi, supplied the Satsuma army.[14] On April 10, Shō Nei was informed of Satsuma's landing on Amami, and he sent Ibun (天龍寺以文長老), the priest of Tenryu temple,[15] to Amami in order to surrender, but Ibun missed the Satsuma army for unknown reasons. On April 16, 13 Satsuma ships then left for Tokunoshima in advance,[16] and the others left Amami at 6am on April 20.

Tokuno Island

On April 17, 13 ships arrived at Tokunoshima and dispersed. Two ships arrived at Kanaguma,[17] but nothing happened. Eight ships arrived at Wanya.[18] The ships were besieged all night by 1,000 people. On April 18, Satsuma troops disembarked, fired into the crowds, and killed 50 people. Three ships arrived at Akitoku,[19] and were attacked at the water's edge by the Akitoku people. However, troops quickly fought back and killed 20-30 people.[20] The Satsuma fleet also arrived at Akitoku at 4pm, April 20. On April 21, Kabayama left for Okierabu Island with 10 ships in advance. Others left Tokunoshima at 10am, April 24, and arrived at Okierabu at sunset. They met Kabayama and his ships there, and quickly departed for Ryukyu Island.

Ryukyu Island

The Satsuma fleet arrived at Unten harbor on the Motobu Peninsula of Ryukyu Island on April 25 at 18:00. On April 27, some disembarked. They found Nakijin Castle deserted, and set fires in several places.[21] As soon as Shō Nei heard of Satsuma's arrival at Nakijin, he called Kikuin (菊隠[22]), the zen master, giving him a royal order: "You had lived in Satsuma for several years, so you know three lords of the Shimazu clan[23] very well. Go and make a proposal for peace."[24] Kikuin and his diplomatic mission (Kian was an assistant) left the Ryukyuan royal capital, Shuri at 8am, April 26, and arrived at Kuraha[25] at 12pm. They left Kuraha for Onna by boat. On April 27, they left Onna, and arrived at Nakijin. Kikuin parleyed with Kabayama, who then ordered peace talks at Naha.

In the early morning of April 29,[26] the Satsuma fleet and Kikuin left Unten harbor. They arrived at Ōwan, near Yomitanzan[27] at 6pm. The Ryukyuan Mission left immediately, and arrived at Makiminato at 10pm, where they left their boat, and arrived late at night. Kikuin reported Kabayama's order to Shō Nei, and went down to Naha in the early morning. At Ōwan, Kabayama sent some of his officers to Naha in order to fulfill his promise, while he disembarked his other men, because he heard that there was a chain at the entrance of Naha harbor. "If there is a chain, no ship can enter the harbor."[28] Kabayama and his army then landed at Ōwan, and marched to Shuri.

At 2pm, May 1, the Satsuma ships entered Naha harbor, and immediately held peace talks at Oyamise (親見世).[29] At that time, there was a fire in Shuri, and Kabayama's force reacted and surged forward. Some Satsuma officers[30] ran up to Shuri from Naha, and calmed down troops. Because Shō Nei gave Kabayama his own brother Shō Ko (尚宏[31]), and all three of his ministers as hostage, Kabayama ordered his men to return to Naha from Shuri, and all of the Satsuma army were there by 4pm, May 1. On May 4, Shō Nei left Shuri Castle, and on May 5, some Satsuma officers entered the castle, and started making an inventory of treasures they found there.


On May 17, Shō Nei departed Unten harbor for Satsuma along with roughly one hundred of his officials. In August, 1610, he met with the retired Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu in Sunpu Castle. He was then taken to Edo, for a formal audience with Shōgun Tokugawa Hidetada on August 28. On December 24, he arrived at Kagoshima, where he was forced to formally surrender and to declare a number of oaths to the Shimazu clan. In 1611, two years after the invasion, the king returned to his castle at Shuri. In the king's absence, Kabayama Hisataka and his deputy Honda Chikamasa governed the islands on behalf of their lord Shimazu Tadatsune. 14 samurai officials from Satsuma, along with 163 of their staff,[32] examined the kingdom's political structures and economic productivity, and conducted land surveys of all the islands. Following the king's return to Shuri and the resumption of governance under the royal establishment, some Ryukyuan officials went to Kagoshima as hostages.

The surrender documents signed at Kagoshima in 1611 were accompanied by a series of oaths.[33] The king and his councilors were made to swear that "the islands of Riu Kiu have from ancient times been a feudal dependency of Satsuma",[34] and that there was a long-standing tradition of sending tribute and congratulatory missions on the succession of the Satsuma lords, though these were clearly not true. The oaths also included stipulations that the kingdom admit its culpability in ignoring and rejecting numerous requests for materials and for manpower, that the invasion was justified and deserved, and that the lord of Satsuma was merciful and kind in allowing the king and his officers to return home and to remain in power. Finally, the councilors were forced to swear their allegiance to the Shimazu over their king. Tei Dō, a royal councilor and commander of the kingdom's defense against the invasion, refused to sign the oaths, and was subsequently beheaded.

The Ryukyus remained nominally independent, an "exotic realm" (異国, ikoku)[35] to the Japanese. The kingdom's royal governmental structures also remained intact, along with its royal lineage. However, Amami Ōshima and a number of other northern islands now known as the Satsunan Islands were annexed into Satsuma Domain, and they remain today within Kagoshima Prefecture. Though the king retained considerable powers, he was only permitted to operate within a framework of strict guidelines set down by Satsuma, and was required to pay considerable amounts in tribute to Satsuma on a regular basis. Efforts were also made to obscure Satsuma's domination of Ryukyu from the Chinese Court, in order to ensure the continuation of trade and diplomacy, since China refused to conduct formal relations or trade with Japan at the time.

This framework of guidelines was largely set down by a document sometimes called the Fifteen Injunctions (掟十五ヶ条, Okite jūgo-ka-jō), which accompanied the oaths signed in Kagoshima in 1611, and which detailed political and economic restrictions placed upon the Kingdom. Prohibitions on foreign trade, diplomacy, and travel outside of that officially permitted by Satsuma were among the chief elements of these injunctions. Ryukyu's extensive trade relations with China, Korea, and Southeast Asia were turned to Satsuma's interests, and various laws were put into place forbidding interactions between Japanese and Ryukyuans, and travel between the two island nations. Likewise, travel abroad from Ryukyu in general, and the reception of ships at Ryukyu's harbors, were heavily restricted with exceptions made only for official trade and diplomatic journeys authorized by Satsuma.

Campaign gallery

Ryukyu Invasion Phase1

Satsuma fleet bypasses Tokara Islands to secure Amami Island. 20 March – 11 April 1609.

Ryukyu Invasion Phase2

Satsuma army captures Amami Island; Satsuma fleet moves to secure Tokuno Island. 11 April – 24 April 1609.

Ryukyu Invasion Phase3

Satsuma army captures Tokuno Island; Ryukyuan fleet moves towards Amami Island; Satsuma fleet moves to secure Okinoerabu Island. 24 April – 26 April 1609.

Ryukyu Invasion Phase4

Satsuma army captures Okinoerabu Island; Satsuma fleet bypasses Yoron Island. 26 April – 28 April 1609.

Ryukyu Invasion Phase5

Satsuma fleet anchors near Kouri Island; Satsuma army lands at Unten and moves to secure Nakijin Castle; Ryukyuan army moves to attack Satsuma army. 29 April – 1 May 1609.

Ryukyu Invasion Phase6

Satsuma destroys Nakijin Castle; Ryukyuan army retires; Satsuma army lands at Yomitan and advances towards Urasoe; Satsuma fleet advances towards Naha. 1 May – 3 May 1609.

Ryukyu Invasion Phase7

Satsuma destroys Urasoe Castle; Satsuma fleet moves to breach Naha Harbor; Satsuma army moves to secure Taihei Bridge. 3 May – 4 May 1609.

Ryukyu Invasion Phase8

Satsuma fleet withdraws to Makiminato; Satsuma army moves to secure Shuri Castle. 4 May – 6 May 1609.

See also

Further reading

  • The Samurai Capture a King, Okinawa 1609. Author: Stephen Turnbull. Osprey Raid Series #6; Osprey Publishing, 2009. ISBN 9781846034428
  • 琉球大学リポジトリ「喜安日記(伊波本)(Kian diary)」
  • 鹿児島県歴史史料センター黎明館編「旧記雑録後編4」鹿児島県,1984年.No.557「琉球渡海日々記(My diary of crossing sea to Ryukyu)」No.659「琉球入ノ記」
  • 鹿児島県歴史史料センター黎明館編「旧記雑録拾遺家わけ2」鹿児島県,1991年.No.640「肝付兼篤書状」
  • 亀井勝信編「奄美大島諸家系譜集」図書刊行会,1980年.
  • 外間守善編「琉球国由来記」角川書店、1997年。No.69「達磨峰西来禅院記」
  • 上原兼善「島津氏の琉球侵略」榕樹書林、2009年。("Ryukyu invasion by Shimazu clan". Author: Uehara Kenzen.)


  1. ^ Chūzan Seikan (中山世鑑), chapter 2: "琉球徃古ニハ金銀満ッテ或ハカンサシヲ作リ或ハ祭噐ヲ作リ又ハ大明暹羅日本ナトヘ往来致シ商賈ヲシケルモ察度王金宮ヨリ堀出給ケル金トソ聞ヱシ其ノ祭噐モカンサシモ数百年ノ後尚寧王ノ時マテ傳リケルカ己酉ノ乱ニ失セタリキ"
  2. ^ 高良倉吉『琉球王国の構造』吉川公文館、1987年、ISBN 9784642026536 pp.234
  3. ^ 国土交通省 奄美群島の概要
  4. ^ 「雑録後編2」No.851
  5. ^ 上原 pp.64
  6. ^ 「大日本古文書巻16・島津家文書之3」No.1452「去々年貴邦の軍役について天下の命に任せて使礼をもって演説のところ、過半を調達、珍重々々」
  7. ^ 入唐. China was the original target of the war.
  8. ^ 上原 pp.60
  9. ^ 「雑録後編2」No.785
  10. ^ 「島津家文書之二」(「大日本古文書・家わけ16」)No.1119
  11. ^ 「雑録後編3」No.1862尚寧宛義久書状「別て貴国の流人、左相府の御哀憐を以て本国に之を送らるる。其の報礼の遅延然る可からず。急ぎ一使を遣わすに謝恩の意の厚きを以てすべし。其の期に莅めば馳走を遂ぐ可き者也」
  12. ^ 「雑録後編4」No.532島津家久「呈琉球国王書」「今際聘せず、明亦懈たれば、危うからざるを欲して得べけんなり」
  13. ^ 「奄美大島諸家系譜集」「笠利氏家譜」「慶長十三年、日本薩州縦り御攻め取りの刻、両御大将舟を召し、一艘は笠利湊江御着岸、先一艘は同間切の内、雨天湊江御着岸。先一番佐文為転江御勢を向けられ、畢、為転薩州の御手に属し奉り、大島中の手引きをして、 則ち島人を降参せしむ」
  14. ^ 「奄美大島諸家系譜集」「前里家家譜」「然処に、鹿府より樺山美濃守様、本琉球対地の為、当津大和浜江御差入之宛、則ち茂手樽降参いたし、用物薪草野等捧げ奉り、首尾好く此の地相納り、之より数日ご滞在に及び、順風を以て、本琉球え御渡海なられ・・・」
  15. ^ Shō Taikyū constructed Tenryu-ji. No one knows its location.
  16. ^ 「渡海日々記」「十六日・・・此日とくと申嶋江類船之内十三艘参候」
  17. ^ unknown
  18. ^ a harbor of Amagi town. 天城町・湾屋港
  19. ^ present Kametoku harbor in Tokunoshima town.徳之島町・亀徳港
  20. ^ 「肝付兼篤書状」「公(肝付越前守兼篤)の船及ひ白坂式部少輔の船唯二艘、徳の島の内かなぐまに着す、此間18里、従者の舟は同嶋の内わいな(湾屋)に着す、共に着する船7艘なり、ここにて敵一千ばかりかけ来り、通夜舟の辺を囲居るの際、翌18日、各船より下りて鉄炮を放ちかくれば、暫も支へず崩れ行を追打に首50ばかり討取けり、内当手の士前田左近将監・伊達斛兵衛尉・白尾玄蕃允・有馬藤右衛門尉・坂本普兵衛尉各分捕して5人を得たりと云々、同20日、同嶋の内あき徳に至(原注:かなくまより五里)、味方の舟二三艘此所に着けるに、敵寄せ来たりしをここかしこに追詰、二三十人討取しと云々、同21日、あきとくを出、海路七八里程行けるに、俄に風悪くなりしかば、辛して漕戻し又元の泊の隣かめそう(亀津)と云所へ着す、あきとくにて樺山氏を始兵船二十艘渡海、同湊に入、当手の小舟もここにて追付奉る、都合舟数70余と云々、」
  21. ^ 「渡海日々記」「ときじんの城あけのき候、巳之刻程に俄に打ちまわり候て、方々放火共候」
  22. ^ He became Zen priest in early life,and went Japan to study Zen. 10 years later, he came back to Ryukyu, became the chief priest of Enkaku-ji (円覚寺). When Satsuma invaded, he was old and had retired from chief of the temple. After this war, Shō Nei constructed Seirai temple (西来院) for Kikuin. Sho Nei gave Kikuin the title of prince, and ordered him to succeed the prince regent Shō Ko. Kikuin assisted Sho Nei for several years, and then he retired again. He died October 13, 1620. 「琉球国由来記」No.69
  23. ^ Shimazu Yosihisa, Yoshihiro, Iehisa
  24. ^ 「喜安日記」「西来院は数年薩州に住居ありて殊更御両三殿御存知の事なれば行向て無為和睦を申調られよ」
  25. ^ 久良波. Currently a part of Onna village
  26. ^ 「喜安日記」「二十九日早天」
  27. ^ 大湾 or 大湾渡具知 (Ōwan Toguchi) downstream of the Hijya River
  28. ^ 「雑録後編4」No.553「樺山権左衛門久高譜中」「明くる日悉く那覇の津に到らんと欲するも、爰で津口に鉄鎖の設け有るを之聞き、鉄鎖有る、則ち豈に一船の津隈に入るを得んや、且つ亦、他江の軍船繋ぐ可き無し。是を以って四月朔日に、物主等の乗る船五、六艘をして、件の指南を以って那覇津に到らしめ、其の余は悉く陸地に上がらしめ、干戈を手に共にして進み向かうに・・・」
  29. ^ Satsuma delegation: 大慈寺, 市来織部, 村尾笑栖. Ryukyu: 具志上王子尚宏, 西来院(菊隠), 名護, 池城安頼, 豊美城續, 江栖栄真, 喜安, 津見. "Kian diary"
  30. ^ Ichirai-Oribe (市来織部) and Murao-Syosu (村尾笑梄) with their troops. "Kian diary"
  31. ^ He was the regent of the Kingdom. He assisted his brother very well, but died at 33 years old in Japan, on August 21, 1610. 上原 pp.201
  32. ^ Kerr. p159.
  33. ^ These can be found in translation in Kerr. pp160-163.
  34. ^ Smits. p16.
  35. ^ Toby, Ronald. State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984. pp46–47.
Hirata Masumune

Hirata Masumune (平田 増宗, 1566 – 7 April 1610) was a Japanese samurai of the early Edo period. He was a retainer and karō in the service of the Shimazu clan of Satsuma Domain.

Hirata took part in Battle of Sekigahara. After Western Army lost the war, he saved Shimazu Yoshihiro's wife and Shimazu Iehisa's wife, let them go back to Satsuma safely.

Shimazu clan decided to invade Ryukyu Kingdom in 1609, Hirata Masumune was appointed vice general. The invasion of Ryukyu was successful, Satsuma troops captured King Shō Nei and his ministers, and took them to Kagoshima. But Hirata got involved in family conflict of Shimazu clan, and was murdered by Oshikawa Kimichika (押川 公近) in the next year.

Kabayama Hisataka

Kabayama Gonzaemon Hisataka (樺山 権左衛門 久高, 1560 – 1634) was a Japanese samurai of the early Edo period. He was a retainer, senior advisor (karō), and senior deputy commander in the service of the Shimazu clan.


Keichō (慶長) was a Japanese era name (年号, nengō, "year name") after Bunroku and before Genna. This period spanned from October 1596 to July 1615. The reigning emperors were Go-Yōzei-tennō (後陽成天皇) and Go-Mizunoo-tennō (後水尾天皇).

Kian (tea master)

Kian (喜安, 20 January 1566 – 10 August 1653) was a Japanese tea master and priest who was active in the Ryukyu Kingdom. In Ryukyuan history records, his full name was Bin-shi Kian Nyūdō Bangen (閔氏 喜安入道 蕃元) or Bin-shi Kian Ueekata Bangen (閔氏 喜安 親方 蕃元). He is best known for his diary, the Kian Nikki (喜安日記), which chronicled the 1609 Invasion of Ryukyu.Kian was born in Sakai, Izumi Province, Japan. He studied tea ceremony from Kōin (康印), a disciple of Sen no Rikyū. Later, he learned Waka and Classical Chinese poetry.

Kian came to Ryukyu at the age of 35. He enjoyed a widespread reputation there and several years later he was appointed Chamberlain of the palace and was given the Chinese style surname, Bin (閔).

In the spring of 1609, Satsuma Domain invaded Ryukyu and captured the strategically important Nakijin Castle. Kian went there to request a peace negotiation together with a Buddhist monk named Kikuin, but they were arrested by Satsuma troops. After the war, he was taken to Kagoshima together with King Shō Nei and a number of high officials by Satsuma troops. After Shō Nei returned to Ryukyu, Kian was appointed "imperial tea master" (御茶道).

Kian wrote a Gunki monogatari called Kian Nikki (喜安日記, "Kian Diary") during King Shō Hō's reign. It is a very important account of Satsuma's invasion.

Kunigami Seisoku

Kunigami Wōji Seisoku (国頭 王子 正則, ? – ?), also known by his Chinese style name Ba Kokuryū (馬 国隆), was a bureaucrat of Ryukyu Kingdom.

He was the seventh head of the aristocrat family called Kunigami Udun (国頭御殿), and was also the eldest son of Kunigami Seiya (国頭 正弥). His rank was Aji (lord) at first. In 1643, he was elevated to the rank Wōji (prince) though he had no royal blood, and dispatched to express the gratitude of King Shō Ken's accession to Edo, Japan. He reached Edo in the next year, and sailed back to Ryukyu in winter. He was also dispatched to celebrate Tokugawa Ietsuna become the new shōgun in 1653.Prince Kunigami was sent to Satsuma Domain for several times and played important role in diplomacy to Satsuma. He was a friend of Shimazu Mitsuhisa (島津 光久), the daimyō of Satsuma. After the invasion of Ryukyu, a member of sanshikan should be taken as hostage in Kagoshima for three years. Henza Chōchō (平安座 朝暢, also known by Chatan Chōchō) was sent to Kagoshima to seek rescission of it, but was rejected by karō of Satsuma. Prince Kunigami requested it in a banquet and was approved by Mitsuhisa.Prince Kunigami was a political opponent of Haneji Chōshū.

List of wars involving Japan

This is a list of wars involving Japan.

Mie Castle

Mie Castle (三重城, Mie jō, Okinawan: Mii gushiku) is a Ryukyuan gusuku in Naha, Okinawa. It is located on the northern mouth of the Kokuba River in Naha Port.

Military of the Ryukyu Kingdom

The military of the Ryukyu Kingdom defended the kingdom from 1429 until 1879. It had roots in the late army of Chūzan, which became the Ryukyu Kingdom under the leadership of King Shō Hashi. The Ryukyuan military operated throughout the Ryukyu Islands, the East China Sea, and elsewhere that Ryukyuan ships went. Ryukyu primarily fought with other Ryukyuan kingdoms and chiefdoms, but also Japanese samurai from Satsuma Domain and pirates. Soldiers were stationed aboard ships and Ryukyuan fortifications. The Ryukyuan military declined after the 17th century.

Minamoto no Tametomo

Minamoto no Tametomo (源 為朝, 1139 – April 23, 1170) (also known as Chinzei Hachirō Tametomo (鎮西 八郎 為朝)) was a samurai who fought in the Hōgen Rebellion of 1156. He was the son of Minamoto no Tameyoshi, and brother to Yukiie and Yoshitomo.

Tametomo is known in the epic chronicles as a powerful archer and it is said that he once sunk an entire Taira ship with a single arrow by puncturing its hull below the waterline. It is also added in many legends that his left arm was about 4 in. longer than his right, enabling a longer draw of the arrow, and more powerful shots. He fought to defend Shirakawa-den, alongside his father, against the forces of Taira no Kiyomori and Minamoto no Yoshitomo, his brother. The palace was set aflame, and Tametomo was forced to flee.

After the Hōgen Rebellion, the Taira cut the sinews of Tametomo's left arm, limiting the use of his bow, and then he was banished to the island of Ōshima in the Izu Islands. Tametomo eventually killed himself by slicing his abdomen, or committing seppuku. He is quite possibly the first warrior to commit seppuku in the chronicles.

Motobu Peninsula

The Motobu Peninsula (本部半島, Motobu hantō, Okinawan: Mutubu) is a peninsula in the Yanbaru region of Okinawa Island. It is surrounded by Nago Bay to the south, the Haneda Inland Sea to the north, and the East China Sea to the west. It is mostly mountainous, with a few plains. The peninsula's northeasternmost point is Cape Bise. Its highest point is Mount Yae, whose summit is 593 metres (1,946 ft). Due to a US military communications tower, the summit is off-limits. The peninsula was the center of power for the kingdom of Hokuzan in medieval times, and was the site of fierce fighting during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

Nakijin Castle

Nakijin Castle (今帰仁城, Nakijin Gusuku) is a Ryukyuan gusuku located in Nakijin, Okinawa. It is currently in ruins. In the late 14th century, the island of Okinawa consisted of three principalities: Nanzan to the south, Chūzan in the central area, and Hokuzan in the north. Nakijin was the capital of Hokuzan. The fortress includes several sacred Utaki groves, reflecting the castle's role as a center of religious activity. It is today known for the Hikan cherries which bloom in northern Okinawa between mid-January and early February, providing the first cherry blossoms each year in Japan.

Ryukyu Domain

The Ryukyu Domain (琉球藩, Ryūkyū han) was a short-lived domain of Japan, lasting from 1872 to 1879, before becoming the current Okinawa Prefecture and other islands at the Pacific edge of the East China Sea.

When the domain was created in 1872, Japan's feudal han system had developed in unique ways. The domain was a political and economic abstraction based on periodic cadastral surveys and projected agricultural yields. In other words, the domain was defined in terms of kokudaka, not land area. This was different from the feudalism of the West.

Ryukyuan missions to Edo

Over the course of Japan's Edo period, the Ryūkyū Kingdom sent eighteen missions to Edo (琉球江戸上り, ryūkyū edo nobori, "lit. 'the going up of Ryūkyū to Edo'), the capital of Tokugawa Japan. The unique pattern of these diplomatic exchanges evolved from models established by the Chinese, but without denoting any predetermined relationship to China or to the Chinese world order. The Kingdom became a vassal to the Japanese feudal domain (han) of Satsuma following Satsuma's 1609 invasion of Ryūkyū, and as such were expected to pay tribute to the shogunate; the missions also served as a great source of prestige for Satsuma, the only han to claim any foreign polity, let alone a kingdom, as its vassal.


Shunten (舜天, 1166–1237), also known as Shunten-Ō (舜天王, lit. "King Shunten"), was a chief of the Ryūkyū Islands. Shunten is the earliest chief in Okinawa for whom a name is known. He is said to have taken power after defeating a usurper to the throne by the name of Riyū who had overthrown the 25th chief of the Tenson Dynasty.

Shō Hō

Shō Hō (尚豊, 1590–1640), also known as Shengfeng, was a king of the Ryukyu Kingdom. He succeeded Shō Nei, whose reign saw the invasion of Ryukyu by Japanese forces in 1609 and the subjugation of the kingdom to Satsuma Domain, and ruled from 1621 until 1640.

Shō Hō was the fourth son of Shō Kyū, the third son of King Shō Gen. In 1616, he was appointed kokushō, a high government position akin to prime minister or chief royal advisor, which would later be replaced with sessei.

Three years later, Shō Hō was named Prince of Nakagusuku and given Nakagusuku magiri as his domain. King Shō Nei died without an heir in 1621, and Shō Hō was selected to succeed him. As the first king to be enthroned since Satsuma's invasion in 1609, formal permission and acknowledgment of the king's authority and legitimacy was required before performing the coronation ceremony, sending heralds to China, and assuming the responsibilities of the throne. In addition, while Shō Hō retained powers related to organization of offices and administration of punishments, along with all the ritual prestige of the throne, Shō Nei was the last king of Ryukyu to rule personally, directly, and absolutely as monarch. Much of the decisions and behavior of Shō Hō's government were subject to Satsuma's approval.Relations with China were also strained. At the start of Shō Hō's reign, Okinawan tribute ships were only welcome in Fuzhou once every ten years. The Chinese Imperial Court had reduced the tribute missions to this frequency following the Japanese invasion in 1609, claiming that it was done in consideration of the instability and poverty that the chaos of the invasion must have brought to the kingdom. In fact, these tribute missions, the only legal method of trading with Ming China, were essential to the kingdom's economic prosperity. Therefore, in 1623, when investiture missions were exchanged, the Ryukyuan officials pushed for a return to the system of sending tribute every other year; it was decided that missions would be allowed once every five years.After a twenty-year reign, Shō Hō died in 1640, and was succeeded by his son, Shō Ken.

Shō Nei

Shō Nei (尚寧, 1564–1620) was king of the Ryukyu Kingdom from 1587–1620. He reigned during the 1609 invasion of Ryukyu and was the first king of Ryukyu to be a vassal to the Shimazu clan of Satsuma, a Japanese feudal domain.

Shō Nei was the great-grandson of Shō Shin (尚真, r. 1477–1526) and the adopted son-in-law of Shō Ei (尚永, r. 1573–1586).

Tōma Jūchin

Tōma Pekumi Jūchin (当間 親雲上 重陳, 4 February 1591 – 16 May 1676) was a Japanese samurai of Satsuma Domain during Edo period, later became a bureaucrat of Ryukyu Kingdom.Tōma Jūchin was born to a Japanese clan, Ijichi-shi (伊地知氏) of Ōsumi Province, and was given the name Ijichi Tarōuemon (伊地知 太郎右衛門). He was a descendant Hatakeyama Shigetada.

In his early years, he was appointed as Yamato yokome (大和横目, "supervisor of Japan") and sent to Ryukyu. Later, he became a bureaucrat of Ryukyu in 1634, started to wear Ryukyuan clothes, and started to use Japanese style name (大和名, Yamatona) "Tōma Jūchin" and Chinese style name (唐名, Karana) "Hei Keishō" (平 啓祥).After Satsuma's invasion of Ryukyu in 1609, Ryukyu were getting poorer and poorer. Ryukyu had to borrowed money from Satsuma, but the debt was getting heavier and heavier and Ryukyu was unable to pay off it. Tōma Jūchin established government monopoly system of muscovado and turmeric in 1645, which alleviated the intense economic difficulties faced by the kingdom successfully. He also minted Hatome-sen (鳩目銭, "pigeon-eye coins") in 1656.

Urasoe Castle

Urasoe Castle (浦添城, Urasoe jō, Okinawan: Urashii Gusiku) is a Ryukyuan gusuku which served as the capital of the medieval Okinawan principality of Chūzan prior to the unification of the island into the Ryukyu Kingdom, and the moving of the capital to Shuri. In the 14th century, Urasoe was the largest castle on the island, but today only ruins remain.

Yarazamori Castle

Yarazamori Castle (屋良座森城, Yarazamori jō, Okinawan: Yarazamui gushiku) was a Ryukyuan gusuku in Naha, Okinawa. It was located on the southern mouth of the Kokuba River in Naha Port.

Campaigns of the Shimazu clan


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