Oni Oshiro

BookCoverPreviewIn the era of Old Ryukyu, a legendary warrior of Okinawan martial arts appeared on the center stage of the historical theatre. Due to his unique appearance and powerful physique—reminiscent of a wolf or a tiger—the people of that time called him Oni Ōshiro, or «Ōshiro the Demon.»

Also known as Uni Ufugushiku in the Okinawan pronunciation of his name, he had been variously described as the originator of the original Okinawan martial art «Ti» as well as the actual ancestor of a number of famous Okinawan karate masters, such as Mabuni Kenwa and others.

This is his narrative. Gleaned from the few primary sources available, which for the first time are presented here in the English language, the original heroic flavor of the source texts was kept intact.

«I invoke the Gods, To quake heaven and earth, To let the firmament resound, And to rescue the divine woman—Momoto Fumiagari.»

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5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
94 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1533486219 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1533486212
BISAC: Sports & Recreation / Martial Arts & Self-Defense

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King Wu Once Buckled On His Armor: The Seven Virtues of Martial Arts

by Andreas Quast

King_Wu_Once_Buckled_Cover_for_KindleTHIS is the true story of the seven virtues of martial arts as described by Matsumura Sokon. Considered the primary source-text of old-style Okinawan martial arts, the “Seven Virtues” are admired for their straightforward advice. Handwritten in the late 19th century by Matsumura Sokon, the most celebrated ancestor of karate, they are considered the ethical fountain and technical key to understand what can’t be seen.

This book includes the extremely rare photography of the original handwritten scroll, approved by the Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum as well as the owner of the scroll. It also shows the family crest of the Matsumura family, sporting the character of “Bu.”

Get your copy now: US ►CA ►UK ►NL ► DE ►FR ►ES ►IT

Matsumura himself pointed out that the “Seven Virtues of Martial Arts” were praised by a wise man in an ancient manuscript, a manuscript that has remained obscure ever since. Now the ultimate source of this wondrous composition has been discovered and verified. Presented and explained here for the first time, it is not only the source of Matsumura’s “Seven Virtues of Martial Arts”… In fact, it is the original meaning of martial arts per se.

5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Black & White on Cream paper
80 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1523685981 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1523685980
BISAC: Sports & Recreation / Martial Arts & Self-Defense

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A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History

A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History Paperback – May 15, 2015

by Andreas Quast (Author)

Paperback edition: available at Amazon US ($14.99), Amazon UK (£9.79), Amazon Germany (EUR 14.97), CreateSpace eStore ($14.99), and at online and offline bookstores and retailers, as well as via public libraries and libraries at other academic institutions.

Kindle edition also availableUSUKDEFRESITNLJPBRCAMXAUIN

Based on his acclaimed previous studies, the author here presents a synopsis of the development of Ryukyu martial arts. The events described herein are all real, that is, they are all historical. Strolling along the chronology of martial arts of Ryukyu provenance, a large number of verified events are not only detailed, but also decorated with dozens of precious illustrations. As such “A Stroll Along Ryukyu Martial Arts History” is for martial arts practitioners as much as it is for aficionados of history and Asia. It simply provides a pristine ground to stand on for the practitioner who wishes to understand the primordial origins of Ryukyu martial arts.

  • For those who read “Karate 1.0”: this new book here is a synopsis of Karate 1.0 plus the “chronology (Part VII)” without significant changes. It is an easier read without all the reasoning and footnotes, but instead with nearly 80 illustrations to make it more suitable for the general public, and not only academic people.

Among the unique information that cannot be found anywhere else are also some of the illustrations. For instance, there is only one picture scroll that shows the Chinese investiture envoys (sapposhi) and their military retinue. Here, for the first time you might see how famous Kusanku actually might have looked like.

Product Details (Paperback edition)

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (May 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1512229423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1512229424
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.4 x 9.7 inches
Cover

Cover

Available at Amazon US ($19.99), Amazon UK (£12.79), Amazon Germany (EUR 19,25 ), CreateSpace eStore ($19.99)

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Karate 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art

The most comprehensive study on the parameters of primordial Karate, this work intrigues readers with rich detail and insights into these ancient combat traditions, the pride of Okinawa.

KARATE 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art. Düsseldorf 2013, by Andreas Quast.

cover (4)

Karate 1.0 front cover

  • Pages: xxvii, 502 pp.
  • Language: English.
  • Hardcover binding in green linen material with gold foil stamping, size 8.25″ x 10.75″ (20.95cm x 27.31cm).
  • Full-color dust jacket in matte finish.
  • Inside: black and white printing on cream archival paper (60# weight). White exterior paper (80# weight).
  • Forewords by Patrick McCarthy, Miguel Da Luz, Cezar Borkowski, Jesse Enkamp, Dr. Julian Braun, Soke Leif Hermansson, and Dr. phil. Heiko Bittmann.
  • All copies ship from the United States.
  • Price: $75.00.

Only the highest quality both in content and production: get it now from Lulu.com!

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Karate and Western-style military training

The Motobu-ryū blog just published an interesting article entitled “Mai no Te and Fluidity.” In it there is a short note mentioning the influence of Western-style military training (heishiki taisō 兵式体操) on the practice of early modern karate. Find corresponding short articles here and also here.

In this regard it should be noted that Hanashiro Chōmo’s “Karate Kumite” of 1905 was a document that was exactly built as the Western-style military training manuals of his era. It even used some very specific terminology not found anywhere else. As an example, there is the expression bōfutsu/fusebarai 防拂, or “defensive sweep.” During Hanashiro’s time this was a phrase typically found in the mentioned manuals for western-style military drill. This kind of manuals included didactically prepared descriptions of individual equipment, the commandos, formations, the methods of moving forward and backward, individual and partner exercises, etc. The structure and general fashion of these manuals match with that of Hanashiro’s “Karate Kumite” to a very high level.

In addition, at one point Hanashiro refers to the practitioners not as pupils, students, gymnasts or the like. Instead, he explicitly designates the practitioners as senhei 選兵, i.e. the selected soldiers. And this was probably the sole initial meaning and content of school karate at that time: pre-military education.

Manual of Western-style military training (heishiki taisō 兵式体操). Since it usually referred to armed methods, Hanashiro's use of the term "Karate" might originally indeed simply referred to "empty hands," and not to an age-old indigenous martial art.

Manual of Western-style military training (heishiki taisō 兵式体操). Since it usually referred to armed methods, Hanashiro’s use of the term “Karate” might originally indeed simply referred to “empty hands,” and not to an age-old indigenous martial art.

Examples of a manual of Heishiki Taisō

Kōryoku Sei: Guntōjutsu jikyō Zen. Tsuke – Jōba Guntō-jutsu (The Complete Instructions in the Art of the Military Sword/Sidearm/Bayonet. Appendix: Horse Riding Military Sword/Sidearm/Bayonet) . Gunju Shōkai, Tōkyō 1910 (Meiji 43) . 紅緑生 著:軍刀術示教 全。『附乗馬軍刀術』。軍需商会、明治43年 (1910).

Gunju Shōkai Hensan-bu: Tenpan-rei Kenkyū no Shiori. Dai San Shū. (Guide to the Study of Standard Orders. Collection 3) . Gunju Shōkai, (1907-08) . 軍需商会編纂部 著:典範令研究ノ栞。第3集。軍需商会、明治40-41年 (1907-08).

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The 36 Clans of the Min-People

Shortly after the establishment of tributary trade relations with China, a group of Chinese from Fujian were granted to Ryūkyū by the Chinese Emperor and started to immigrate to Okinawa in 1392. They came to be known as the people from the ‘36 Clans of the Min-People’ (minren sanshiliu-xing 閩人三十六姓). Min 閩 refers to the lower valley of the Min River in Fujian 福建 Province, China. They settled in a small Chinese colony in Kume village 久米村. At that time, Kume village was situated on the ‘Floating Island’ (Ukishima 浮島) in the harbor of Naha. In official documents this small colony was also frequently referred to as the ‘Chinese encampment’ (tangying 唐營).

It is a fact that they established an overseas colony of Fujian people in Kume in the port city of Naha. In contemporary sources the 36 Clans are variously described as ship craftsmen serving the Ryūkyūan tributary missions to China, as good mariners for navigation, intercourse and tributary affairs, as serving in administration royal government organization, to propagate learning, to take charge of communication with China and to provide interpreters and emissaries, and to keep tributary records.

Entering "Kuninda." Original photo by the author.

Entering “Kuninda.” Original photo by the author.

There are different theories about the immigration of these 36 Clans. One theory says they were bestowed to Ryūkyū during the years of the Hongwu Emperor (rg. 1386–1398). Another theory says they were bestowed during both the years of the Hongwu Emperor and the Yongle Emperor (rg. 1403–1424). Another theory states that they came to Ryūkyū in a spontaneous fashion for trade and other reasons.

Let’s take a look at the sources.

The “Records of the Unity of the Great Ming” (Da Ming Yitong-zhi 大明一統志) notes that the 36 Clans had been dispatched in the year 1392:

“Then they [Ryūkyū] were specially presented with 36 Clans from Min [=Fujian], which were good in operating ships, to facilitate the sending of envoys at the time of their bringing tribute, and who also explained to them the manufacture and handling of the mechanical compass.”

The mentioned mechanical compass was called Zhinanche 指南車. It was a cart with a figure, which – by means of a mechanism – always pointed southward. It had been invented by Zu Chongzhi (429–500).

According to the “History of the Ming Dynasty” (Ming-shi 明史, 1739):

“In the year 1392, thirty-six ship craftsmen were given to Okinawa so that they might render service for the voyages of Ryūkyūan tributary missions to China.”

According to the Chinese investiture envoy Chen Kan (Shi Liuqiu Lu 使琉球錄, 1534),

“Some thirty-six good mariners from Fujian were given to Ryūkyū to facilitate the intercourse and the conduct of tributary affairs.”

The Chūzan Seikan中山世鑑 (1650) noted that,

“The Great Ming Emperor gave thirty-six people from Fujian to Ryūkyū to undertake the task of administration, and the present people of Kume village are their descendants.”

The Ryūkyū-koku Yuraiki 琉球国由来記  (1713), in Chapter IX states that,

“By imperial decree, thirty-six people were presented to propagate learning in Chūzan [=Ryūkyū], to take charge of communication with China, and to keep tributary records.”

And the Chūzan Seifu 中山世譜 (compiled 1697 to 1701) described their aim not as specifically a matter of tribute trade, but rather the as to generally increase cultural standards, or

“… to bring the music in harmony and organize the rites and laws.”

Their activities might best be summarized as assisting the Ryūkyūan kingdom in its development of a stable bureaucratic hierarchy.

Although the number thirty-six might be rhetorical, these people were sent by the Ming to serve the Ryūkyū kingdom as marine laborers (zhougong 舟工), merchants and ship craftsmen or to take charge of navigation in connection with the large seagoing vessels presented to Ryūkyū by the Ming. They were later joined by scholars and took over diplomatic duties within Ryūkyū’s official tribute trade with China. Their descendants, among whom are found many important families of government officials, cultivated Confucian learning and Chinese traditions down to the end of the nineteenth century.

However, the formation of the Chinese community of Kume village was not restricted to these 36 Clans alone. It had been pointed out that

“A Chinese community of people from Fujian formed naturally in Ryūkyū, too, as part of the southward migration and trading activities of seafaring people along the Chinese coast at the time.”

The “Veritable Records of the Ming Dynasty” (Ming-shilu 明實錄) reports on a petition by King Satto in 1392, praising the merits of Xe Xiyin and Cheng Fu程復, the latter a Chinese person who had served King Satto for more than 40 years within the tribute trade. King Satto asked the Emperor to impart official offices and robes to them, which the Emperor approved. Two years later the king requested to promote both of them to “commanders of battalion” (grade 5a), which was also granted. In 1411 King Shishō 思紹 sent the following petition:

“Cheng Fu comes from Raozhou 饒州 [a place in in Hebei, China]. He had served my ancestor King Satto for more than forty years, industrious and reliable. Now he is eighty-one years old. I request to retire him and let him return to his home.”

This petition was also granted. According to the above, Cheng Fu from Raozhou in Hebei province immigrated to Ryūkyū in about 1370, and there is no doubt that an unofficial trade with China existed prior to the establishment of the tributary trade relationship with the Ming in 1372.

Front and back view of the monument of the 36 Clans at Matsuyama park. 36 family names are insribed, so this is what "Clans" actually refers to. Original photo by the author.

Front and back view of the monument of the 36 Clans at Matsuyama park. 36 family names are insribed, so this is what “Clans” actually refers to. Original photo by the author.

There were other persons mentioned in official documents, of which it is not clear whether they belonged to the 36 Clans or to other Chinese groups. In 1410 a certain Lin You, “who is originally Chinese,” was sent as a tribute envoy from the Kingdom of Chūzan 中山 to the imperial court of China and received “robes of office” as gifts. In 1416, on behalf of the King of Nanzan 南山, the envoy Zheng Yicai was sent to China and who was, according to his name, apparently ethnic Chinese. In 1431 King Shō Hashi turned towards the Ministry of Rites in the matter of a person named Pan Zhongsun. Pan was eighty-one years old at this time. He is described as having originated from the district of Changle near Fuzhou. In 1390, on imperial order, he took part as the helmsman of a Ryūkyūan tribute mission to China and in 1405 was promoted to captain. King Shō Hashi petitioned for Pan to return to his home country of China and settle there.

When the investiture envoy Pan Rong came to Ryūkyū in the summer of 1463, he was visited by two dignitaries in his lodging; one of them, called Cheng Jun, asked for an inscription for a newly built temple. On this occasion Pan Rong came to know Cheng Jun better and was quite impressed:

“Master Cheng is Chinese. To alter the barbarians with the customs of the Chinese people – this is the task of Cheng Jun. He is indeed able to spread the ways of the Chinese among the barbarians of the South and the East, to gradually stain, shape, teach and awaken the barbarians. […] And Ryūkyū became a civilized country.”

1469 Cai Jing, who served several times as a Ryūkyū tribute envoy, reported in a request for awarding office to his parents that his ancestors originated in the district of Nan’an in Fujian. At the beginning of the Hongwu era (1368–1398) he received the order to go to Ryūkyū and to participate in the tribute traffic. Some years earlier the same Cai Jing was sent as vice envoy to Korea by the Ryūkyū King, where he provided comprehensive information about the conditions in Ryūkyū.

According to the above, there were not only those who settled in Kume village by official order of the Chinese emperor, but also those who left China in an illegal manner and found a new home in Ryūkyū. Or those who, like Cheng Fu, already had migrated prior to the introduction of the Chinese maritime ban (1371–1567). This is also evidenced by the sporadic hints appearing in the historical sources, namely that Ryūkyū missions to China partly included “criminals” from the Chinese coastal areas.

Around the middle of the 15th century, Kume village consisted of more than one hundred houses painted in red and blue and inhabited by not only Chinese, but also by Koreans. The settlement was surrounded by earthen walls (dojō 土城) and the inhabitants initially retained their Chinese lifestyle, using tables and chairs and Chinese hairdo. Like that, Kume village was a distinguished habitation era within Naha. Compared to other Chinese overseas merchant communities in Southeast Asia, which were more successful in economics, the Kume people were successful in culture and administration. This is considered to be due to the state stipends and privileges provided to them by the Ryūkyū royal government, which provided them similar benefits as the Shuri nobility. For this reason both the Ryūkyūan royal government and the Chinese immigrants themselves had reason to regulate and limit additional influx of people. Besides, due to the maritime ban Chinese coastal inhabitants were prohibited to travel overseas. In light of this, the term ‘36 Clans’ might probably be considered an euphemism for a legal exception for this maritime ban, granted by the Chinese government for the specific case of Ryūkyū.

Ryūkyūan trade routes (end of fourteenth to middle sixteenth century). After China lifted her maritime trade prohibition (haikin), which lasted from 1371 to 1567. Portugal and Spain rushed into Asia. Ryūkyū’s role as an intermediary weakened. As a result overseas travels of Chinese and Japanese seamen and merchants increased in the waters once engrossed by Ryūkyūan ships.

Ryūkyūan trade routes (end of fourteenth to middle sixteenth century). After China lifted her maritime trade prohibition (haikin), which lasted from 1371 to 1567. Portugal and Spain rushed into Asia. Ryūkyū’s role as an intermediary weakened. As a result overseas travels of Chinese and Japanese seamen and merchants increased in the waters once engrossed by Ryūkyūan ships.

In the “Veritable Records of the Ming Dynasty” (Ming-shilu 明實錄) the term ‘36 Clans’ appears for the first time only for the year 1608. So its usage is actually not that old when looking at the primary sources. From this perspective, the term ‘36 Clans’ appears to be a retrospective attribution and an euphemistic expression. In any case, according to that source, in the year 1608 King Shō Nei – unsuccessfully – applied to the Chinese Emperor to “once again” send ‘36 Clans’ from Fujian to serve as tribute envoys, interpreters, seamen etc. Maybe he was also looking for military specialists?

Why was that? We thought Kume village thrived uninterruptedly since its inception?

Ryūkyū’s South-East-Asian overseas trade was in decline since the latter part of the 15th century. Together with this, Kume village declined and its population was drastically reduced. In 1606, Xia Xiyang 夏子陽 visited Ryūkyū as an investiture envoy for King Shō Nei 尚寧王. In his “Records of the Investiture Envoy to Ryūkyū” (Shi Liuqiu Lu 使琉球錄), Xia reported:

“I have heard that in ancient time various subjects of China were dispatched to Ryūkyū to serve as supervisors. Altogether they were 36 clans. But the number of these clans withered and today only six of them survived, namely the clans of Sai 蔡, Tei 鄭, Rin 林, Tei 程, Ryō 梁, and Kin 金. […] Today the ‘Chinese Encampment’ is cut half and the houses lie in ruins!”

Kume village wasted away. Meanwhile, from the end of the 16th to the early 17th centuries, new people from China immigrated. At least eight persons immigrated to Kume village during the years of the Wanli Emperor (1573–1619) and more followed through the years of the Chongzhen, Shunzi, and Kangxi Emperors (1628–1722).

There was a reason for the small but continuous influx: Following the Shimazu invasion of 1609, and while maintaining its tributary relations with China, Ryūkyū had been included into the political sphere of the Japanese shōgunate. From around the middle of the 17th century, the royal government of Ryūkyū took various measures to strengthen Kume village as a part of their promotion policy towards the China trade:

  1. Kume officials were guaranteed official posts.
  2. New human resources were integrated in Kume village. This included Chinese people who drifted ashore, Ryūkyūans who were familiar with the Chinese language and with navigation, and even descendants of Japanese persons.
  3. The were provided economic benefits.

It was exactly by these measures that Kume village regained its importance and prosperity of bygone days. Like this, and unlike the earlier spontaneous settlements, Kume village in the early modern era can be said to have been purposefully created by the political measures implemented by the Ryūkyū royal government. And these measures were nudged by the necessities of the Satsuma rule. Think about it.

Finally, another peculiarity is that – other than the shizoku members of Shuri, Naha, and Tomari – Kume village shizoku did not have a nanorigashira 名乗頭, or specified initial character of a male person’s given name.

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On clans, houses, and families

Recently there was published an article about Lord Yabiku. In this article the author wondered who this Lord Yabiku was and concluded – for good reasons – that he might have been a member of the Ma-clan.

The ancestor of this Ma-clan was Ōshiro Aji Shinbu 大城按司眞武. The house he established was the House Dana 田名家, which was the main house (大宗) of his clan. All other houses are branch houses (支流).

Let me explain:

Within the Ma-clan, there are different “houses.” Each of these has their own genealogy. There are the Ma-clan (House Dana 田名家), the Ma-clan (House Ishimine 石嶺家), the Ma-clan (House Nishibaru 西原家), the Ma-clan (House Sesoko 瀬底家), and the Ma-clan (House Toguchi 渡口家).

Now, these are the houses published in the official genealogies collected by the families and approved by the Bureau of Genealogies of the Royal Government of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. It is as safe as an ID card.

Now, there might have been other houses in such a clan, of which the genealogies were lost. So sometimes we cannot exactly determine the genealogy of a certain person.

When talking about such things it is not enough to just say “this clan” or “that clan,” or to talk about “family” as if it was all the same. No. You always need to clearly state the a) clan name and the b) house name.  For example, you clearly define a person by referring to him by personal name + generation + clan name + house name. That easy.

You need the personal name because there might have been numerous persons of the same generation. Sometimes you will also need the Chinese-style name, or the childhood name.

So, for example, you can say “Shinshin, 10th generation of the the Ma-clan (House Sesoko)”.

Perfect!

Just don’t forget to add the Kanji…

On the other hand, saying something like “He is descendant of the xyz family!!!” is muddy water in a place where weird animals exist.

And this is a huge problem in Karate history research.

Let’s take a look at the family records held by the Naha Museum of History:

  • Ma-clan (Main House Dana 田名家 ): Established by Ōshiro Aji Shinbu 眞武.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Ishimine石嶺家): Established by 8th Generation Gima Chikudun Pēchin Shinshō 眞韶, who was the 2nd son of Gima Chikudun Pēchin Shinshi 眞之, who was 7th generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Matayoshi又吉家): Established by 9th generation Gima Chikudun Pēchin Shindai 眞代, who was the 1st son of Gima Pēchin Shinji 眞時, who was 8th generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Nozaki 野崎家): Established by 9th generation Nozaki Chikudun Pēchin Shinō 眞徃, who was the 6th son of Gima Pēchin Shinji 眞時, who was 8th generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Gima 儀間家): Established by 10th generation Gima Chikudun Pēchin Shinshi 真志, who was the 4th son of Gima Pēchin Shinshū 真周, who was the 9th generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Nishihara 西原家): Established by 11th generation 眞本, who was the 2nd son of Tokashiki Pēchin Shinbō 眞房, who was 10th generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Sesoko 瀬底家): Established by 11th generation 眞守, who was the 3rd son of Tokashiki Pēchin Shinbō 眞房, who was the 10 generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Toguchi 渡口家): Established by 11th generation 眞安, who was the 4th son of Tokashiki Pēchin Shinbō 眞房, who was the 10 generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Tokashiki 渡嘉敷家): Established by 11th generation Tokashiki Satonushi Pēchin Shinhitsu 真弼, who was the 2nd son of Tokashiki Pēchin Shinshō 真勝, who was the 12th generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Tokashiki 渡嘉敷家): Established by 11th generation Shinkō 眞恒, who was the 3rd son of Tokashiki Pēchin Shinshō 眞勝, who was the 12th generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Ōshiro 大城家): Established by 9th generation Oshiro Satonushi Pēchin Sei’i 盛位. Originator Ōsato Uēkata Seikō 盛行, 3rd son of Ōshiro Satonushi Pēchin Seijo 盛序.
  • Ma-clan (Branch House Yoshizato 吉里家): Established by 12th generation Tawada Chikudun Pēchin Shin’eki 眞易, who was the 2nd son of Tawada Chikudun Pēchin Shinshō 眞章, who was the 11th generation of Tawada Pēchin Shingyō 眞尭, who was the 9th generation of originator Ōshiro Aji Shinbu.

As you can see, there are a lot of houses within the Ma-clan.

Let’s take a look at the above House Ishimine 石嶺家 of the Ma-clan. The 7th Generation of the Ma-clan (House Dana 田名家) was Gima Satonushi Pēchin Shinshi 眞之. His son Gima Chikudun Pēchin Shinshō 眞韶 branched off and started the new lineage of the Ma-clan (House Ishimine 石嶺家).

Here we can see a peculiarity of Ryūkyūan family relations and genealogies: although Shinshō 眞韶 branched off and started a new family lineage, he continued the generation count going back to the ancestor Ōshiro Aji Shinbu. In other words, with the establishment of his branch family, Gima Shinshō is counted as the 8th generation of the Ma-clan (House Ishimine 石嶺家).

Another example: The 10. Generation of the Ma-clan (House Dana 田名家) was Tokashiki Pēchin Shinbō 渡嘉敷親雲上眞房. Three of his sons branched off and started new branch houses of the Ma-clan:

  1. His second son Shinhon 眞本 branched off and started the new lineage of the Ma-clan (House Nishibaru 西原家). He assumed the 11. generation of this house.
  2. His third son Shinshu 眞守 branched off and started the new lineage of the Ma-clan (House Sesoko瀬底家). He assumed the 11. generation of this house.
  3. His fourth son Shin’an 眞安 branched off and started the new lineage of the Ma-clan (House Toguchi 渡口家). He assumed the 11. generation of this house.

The above data were all verified in the official genealogies collected by the families and approved by the Bureau of Genealogies of the Royal Government of the Ryūkyū Kingdom.

Now, as regards the family lineage of the senseis Matayoshi Shinkō, Shinpō, and Yasushi, according to the website of the Kingai-ryū Karate Okinawa Kobujutsu the family lineage is as follows:

  • 1. Ōshiro Aji Shinbu 大城按司眞武
  • (…)
  • 9. Shindai 眞代
  • 10. Shin’ei 眞盈
  • 11. Shinjun 眞順
  • 12. Shinyū 眞邑
  • 13. Shintoku 眞得
  • 14. Shinchin 眞珍
  • 15. Shinkō 眞光
  • 16. Shinpō 眞豊
  • 17. Yasushi 靖 (宗家十七代目])

To understand this, we jump back to the official genealogies of the Ryūkyū Kingdom:

Gima Pēchin Shinji 眞時 was 8. generation of the Ma-clan (House Dana 田名家). His oldest son Shindai 眞代 branched off and started the new lineage of the Ma-clan, which he continued as the 9. generation. This is unambiguously indicated in that genealogy by the entry: “he has a separate genealogy” (別有家譜). It also means – just as in all other cases of branch families – that he continued to use the nanorigashira Shin 眞 of the Ma-clan, which goes back to the common ancestor Ōshiro Aji Shinbu. This nanorigashira 名乗頭 is the first character borne by all male family members of all houses of the Ma-clan, i.e. the main lineage (House Dana) as well as all branch houses. However, in some cases there are also exceptions to the rule.

Unfortunately, within the official genealogies of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, the genealogy of Shindai 眞代 is nowhere to be found, and therefore the name of his branch house is not noted, and neither are his sons who would have continued this specific house. But the Ujishū (collections of family records) of Naha City Museum of History as shown earlier say that 9th generation Gima Chikudun Pēchin Shindai 眞代 established the Ma-clan (Branch House Matayoshi又吉家).

According to the website of the Kingai-ryū Karate Okinawa Kobujutsu, Shindai 眞代 had been granted the territory name of Matayoshi 又吉 village located in Urasoe 浦添 district. It should be noted that this was a “nashima” 名島, or a “territory in name only.” That means, he was not the feudal lord of this territory, but only assumed the name of it wihout any other implication. It also means that he was not of Pēchin rank, but below. And as we have seen, indeed he was “only” of Chikudun Pēchin rank.

The rest of the Matayoshi genealogy is very difficult. Best would be to get a copy of the respective Ujishū collection from Naha City Museum of History, and I might just do that in the future.

In any case, there were various reasons why people would be adopted back and forth form one house of a clan to another. For example, if one person had no male heir they would simply adopt someone from another house of the same clan to assume the headship of that specific house of that specific clan. Like this, if necessary people would frequently be repositioned within the various houses of one clan. Therefore, it is difficult to consider the belonging to a specfic house or a clan an absolute entity. Today there are probably hundreds and thousands of descendants of the Ma-clan.

Grave of Ōshiro Aji Shinbu 大城按司眞武, the ancestor of the Ma-clan (House Dana 田名家).

Grave of Ōshiro Aji Shinbu 大城按司眞武, the ancestor of the Ma-clan (House Dana 田名家).

What I am trying to say here is that a clan does not equal a house, and a house does not equal a clan. Just as in the case of the Ma-clan there might have been a main house and numerous branch houses within one single clan. And for various reasons members would sometimes be adopted within the numerous houses of this one clan, with it changing their house name and their generation count. This happened frequently. So even if all the male members of one clan bore the same first character in their names, this is not to be understood as a family in the western sense. And an Okinawan clan heritage is by no means owned by one person from one house. There were many.

In other words, initially mentioned Lord Yabiku might have been a member of the Ma-clan. In that case, his the first character of his name would have been Shin. However, since neither his first name nor his house are known, and appears to be no genealogy in existence which mentions him, the article about Lord Yabiku concluded – for good reasons – that he might have been from the Ma-clan. This is a proper formulation.

In Karate history research, it is important to approximate towards results according to the primary sources available. This said, just because someone was a member of a certain clan allows only very limited – if any – inferences about his martial arts career.

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Kyūyō, Appendix Vol. IV, No. 160: When an epidemic spread out in 1852, all Japanese officials who stayed in this country [Ryūkyū] issued rice and money to provide for the poor homes of all villages. In addition, a medical assistant gave treatment everywhere.

In this year [1852], at the time when an epidemic spread out out, the former kanshukan Shimazu Noboru issued around 450 liter (2 koku and 5 to) of husked rice to be provided to the poor homes in Naha.

Nomoto Ichirō, Hori Yozaemon, and Ijūin Jizaemon issued 2250 kanmon of copper coins to be provided to the poor homes in Izumisaku village.

The product investigator Imai Tōsuke issued 5170 kanmon of copper coins to be provided to the poor homes in the four villages of Naha [i.e. Nishi, Higashi, Wakasa and Izumizaki].

And the medical assistant Yumae Ryūtō made rounds and visited the patients and their families and gave many treatments, and he also provided medicine to the poor homes.


Notes: The title of this little piece unequivocally talks about all Japanese officials who stayed in Ryūkyū at that time. This refers to the Satsuma Resident Commissioner (Zaiban Bugyō 在番奉行) and his personnel stationed in Naha.

According to the above description, Shimazu Noboru 島津登 served as the Satsuma Resident Commissioner stationed in Naha at that time – or, since it says “the former kanshukan,” he had remained on Okinawa after he already finished his tour. In any case, shortly after this he served Satsuma daimyō Shimazu Nariakira 島津斉彬 (1809–1858) as “Official for Building Ryūkyū-style Gunboats” (Ryūkyū Taihō-sen Zōsen-kakari 琉球大砲船造船掛). In this duty he participated in the completion of the “Ryūkyū-style Gunboat” (Ryū Taihō-sen 琉大砲船).

The story behind is is as follows:

In order to suppress the naval power of the various feudal lords, in 1635 the Tokugawa shogunate enacted a ban on the construction of large-scale ocean-capable vessels of 90 tons or above (Ōbune Kenzō Kinshirei 大船建造禁止令). Later the ban was relaxed, but only for merchant ships.

Ryūkyū had been a port of call for Western ships since the early 19th century and in increasing frequency towards the 1850s. European, US American and Russian ships also appeared at the Japanese coast. Even at that time the shogunate did not allow the feudal lords the construction of large military ships and Western-style ships.

After his appointment as the feudal lord of Satsuma in 1851, Shimazu Nariakira (1809–1858) adopted the policy of “Enrich the state, strengthen the military” (Fukoku kyōhei 富国強兵). Together with Tokugawa Nariaki (1800–1860), the feudal lord of the Mito domain, he stood out among the numerous advocates of large ships during the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate. Furthermore, he was also backed by the abundant financial resources that have been accumulated during the Tenpō Reforms (1842–45). On 1852-12-27, under the pretense of defending the Ryukyu Kingdom, which was under Satsuma’s patronage at the time, he submitted to the shogunate his desire to build a “Ryūkyū-style Gunboat” (Ryū Taihō-sen), which was granted on 1853-04-29. Construction work commenced at the Sakurajima Seto shipyard on 1853-05-29. In between these two dates, the US East India Fleet under command of Matthew Perry arrived on Okinawa, staying from May 17–26. Perry reached Edo on 8 July 1853.

Shimazu Nariakira also presented the shōgunate government with the construction plan for 15 warships, which was also approved in the 12th month of 1853. In the 7th month of 1854 the construction of 44m long Daigen-maru 大元丸 and Shoten-maru 承天丸, as well as of 36,4 m long Hōzu-maru 鳳瑞丸 and Mannen-maru 万年丸 was begun.

Meanwhile, the shogunate, led by Abe Masahiro 阿部正弘, ordered the construction of the warship Asahi-maru 旭日丸 (Rising Sun) in Mito province in August 1853. Abe also gave permission to the Uraga magistracy to construct the warship Hōō-maru 鳳凰丸 (Phoenix) in September 1853. Finally, on 15 September 1853 the earlier-mentioned law banning the construction of large-scale vessels was repealed.

“Ryūkyū-style Gunboat” (Ryū Taihō-sen 琉大砲船), AKA Shōhei-maru 昇平丸. Source: Wikipedia.

“Ryūkyū-style Gunboat” (Ryū Taihō-sen 琉大砲船), AKA Shōhei-maru 昇平丸. Source: Wikipedia.

The “Ryūkyū-style Gunboat” (Ryū Taihō-sen) was built by the Satsuma Domain between 1853 to 1854 at the Sakurashima Setomura shipyard in what is now Kagoshima Prefecture. It was a Western-style warship with three-masts, an (estimated) displacement of 370 tons, an overall length of 31.0m, an overall width of 7.3m, and was equipped with 10 cannons. It was completed 1854-12-12, nineteen months after works had begun. It was the first Western-style warship begun to be built in Japan, and the second one completed, following only Hōō-maru, which was commissioned 1854-05-10.

Well, the idea of the “Ryūkyū-style Gunboat” (Ryū Taihō-sen) was that of a junk tailored as a Western-style warship. On 1855-01-26 it was renamed to Shōhei-maru 昇平丸.

On 1855-01-26 it cruised to Edo and was presented to the shogunate government on 1855-08-13. Afterwards it was placed at Shinagawa and primarily used as a training ship, such as for students of the Nagasaki Naval Training Center. Following the Meiji Restoration (1869) it got placed under jurisdiction of the Meiji administrative unit for Hokkaido and used as a troop transport ship. In 1870-03 it encountered a storm off the coast of Matsumae, and in high waves stranded and shiprecked at the coast of Kaminokuni Kinoko village in Hokkaidō.

As regards the Satsuma officials mentioned in the Kyūyō article presented in the beginning of this post: In early 1851, Nakahama Manjirō, the first Japanese to visit the United States and an important translator during the Opening of Japan, reached Okinawa. In the article of the Kyūyō describing his adventures it is said that:

In the 7th month of this year 1851, four Japanese officials stationed here in Ryūkyū who had taken them into custody left their office and returned them to their own home country of Japan.

These four Japanese officials who took them into custody and questioned them were most probably none other than Shimazu Noboru 島津登, Nomoto Ichirō 野元一郎, Hori Yozaemon 堀与左衛門, and Ijūin Jizaemon 伊集院次左衛門. That is, the officials mentioned in the Kyūyō article in the beginning of this post.

This is confirmed by the “Records of Investigations of the Resident Guard on Ryūkyū” (琉球使番取調記録), in which Hori Yozaemon and Nomoto Ichirō report about “hearsay about a foreign country inquired from persons washed ashore.” This quote refers to nothing else but the interrogation of Nakahama Manjirō and his friends.

Further reading:

Adachi Hiroyuki: Kindai no Zōsen Akebono (Dawn of Modern Shipbuilding – Shōhei-maru, Asahi-maru, Hōō-maru) [安達裕之: 近代造船の曙 –昇平丸 ・旭日丸 ・鳳凰丸]. In: TECHNO MARINE No. 864, Japanese Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers. 2001, pp. 35–42.

Nakahama Hiroshi: Nakahama Manjirō – “Amerika” o hajimete tsutaeta Nihonjin. Fuzanbō Intānashonaru, Tōkyō 2005. 中濱博: 中浜万次郎: 「アメリカ」を初めて伝えた日本人. 冨山房インタ-ナショナル 2005.

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Kyūyō, Appendix Vol. IV, No. 158: In 1851 a new vaccination method was established and used by all people.

Since ancient times, the method of blowing dried smallpox scabs up the nose was used in all cases against contagion with smallpox. Coming the year 1851, Uku Pēchin Kijin 宇久親雲上紀仁 of the Matsu-clan 松氏 practiced a new smallpox vaccination method. He made rounds in the villages such as Tomari, Naha, and the Chinese encampment [= Kume] and inoculated small children with this method. Compared to blowing dried smallpox scabs up the nose, with this new method there were extremely less pustules. Later this method of  blowing dried smallpox scabs up the nose was abandonded.

Moreover, more recently it was heard that in the previous year in Japan a smallpox vaccination method was used, and that all little children were in good health. Tokashiki Pēchin Tsūki 渡嘉敷親雲上通起 of the Ro-clan 呂氏 saw this method in Satsuma and studied it. When this Tokashiki returned after his studies, all people were ordered to use this smallpox vaccination method.


Notes: As regards the import of smallpox vaccination methods to Ryūkyū, first, a method was imported in 1837 by the US American physician Peter Parker, the first medical missionary to China, who stopped at Naha harbor on board of the Morrison. During this visit, Parker vaccinated Okinawans with the smallpox vaccine. Back in China and some years later, Parker met with Bettelheim (1811–70), who was the second person who brought a vaccination method to Ryūkyū.

Nakachi Kijin -- als known as Uku Pēchin Kijin of the Matsu-clan -- and a helper on the 120 years anniversary stamp issued in 1968.

Nakachi Kijin — als known as Uku Pēchin Kijin of the Matsu-clan — and a helper on the 120 years anniversary stamp issued in 1968.

Bettelheim came to Ryūkyū in 1846 as a Protestant evangelist, but he was also a physician. In 1849 Bettelheim offered to vaccinate the Ryūkyūans but this was refused by the Ryūkyū government which had prohibited people to get in contact with Bettelheim. For this reason, Bettelheim secretly instructed Nakachi Kijin 仲地紀仁 in Western medicine, as well as in how to prepare and use the vaccination method using bovine smallpox pustules, which he successfully used in 1848.

In 1950 George Smith, the Lord Bishop of Victoria, brought vaccine from Hong Kong which – together with instructional pamphlets prepared by Bettelheim – was used in 1851, the date of the above described article of the Kyūyō. Bettelheim also instructed Makishi Chōchō (1818–62) in his method and noted that the mild course of the disease in 1851 was due to the new methods he had taught.

BTW, the person Nakachi Kijin is noone else but Uku Pēchin Kijin of the Matsu-clan mentioned in above-described article of the Kyūyō. Neither in this Kyūyō article nor in connection with the Nakachi Kijin 120 years anniversary stamp issued in 1968, no credit was given to Bettelheim whatsoever.

To continue, the person Tokashiki Tsūki also mentioned in above-described article was the son of Shuri-born physician and medicinal herbs doctor Tokashiki Pēchin Tsūkan 渡嘉敷親雲上通寛 (1794-1849). In 1817, as a young man Tsūkan went to China and studied Chinese dietary medicine in Beijing. After returning home he became the chief court physician of the Ryūkyū king. In 1824 he went again to Beijing to study and learned the treatment of mental illness. Afterwards he continued to serve the royal family.

In 1832 Tokashiki authored the book “Diet and medicinal herbs,” which is considered an important document about the dietary remedies of Ryūkyū.

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Kyūyō, Appendix Vol. IV, No. 157: On the 3rd day of the 1st month of 1851, in the 4th year of King Shō Tai’s reign, persons from Tosa province [on Shikoku] in Japan arrived in a jolly boat at the seashore of Odo village in Mabuni district

On 1851-01-03, three persons from Tosa province [on Shikoku] of Japan arrived in a jolly boat at the seashore of Odo village. Subsequently, when asked about their history and origins, they told the following:

“On 1841-01-05, we set out to the open sea to fish on a small boat. At that time we suddenly encountered a storm and drifted along with the wind. After several days we arrived at an uninhabited island, situated in direction Southeast by east. Our boat was smashed to pieces on the reef and we saved our lives climbing on the shore. There was no food on that island so we caught many birds to feed upon, and this saved us from starvation.

Coming the 6th month of 1841 we saw a whaler from the United States (Yamiligan-guo 亜米理幹國) passing by that island. We attracted their attention and they send a boat that took us to that wahler and saved our lifes. On that whaler we the arrived in the Western country of 㕶(口+襪)(口+湖) [note: characters can not be displayed]. The captain of the above-mentioned ship entrusted us to a friend, at whose house we were given food, and then the captain and his ship left for the open ocean.

Later, an American ship arrived. We immediately requested earnestly to be allowed on board and to be taken back to Japan. However, since the ship’s captain did not know the sea routes of Japan, he declined our request. Again we requested him to take us along with a boat we would purchase and that when the captain’s ship was somewhere close to the ocean of Japan, we would return to our home country in that boat by ourselves. This the ship’s captain granted and allowed us to travel on his ship.

In the 10th month of 1850 we left the above-mentioned country for the open sea. In the night of 1851-01-02 we arrived about two or three miles from here [Odo village in Mabuni district], steered our boat towards the coast and climbed ashore.

Originally we have been five persons. However, one of us died of an illness in above-mentined country, and one of us remained in that country.”

And when asked whether they had any knowledge of written characters, they said:

“We always only engaged in catching fish and have no knowledge of written characters. The only person is Manjirō 萬次郎, who is quite knowledgable of the American writing.”

In the 7th month of this year 1851, four Japanese officials stationed here in Ryūkyū who had taken them into custody left their office and returned them to their own home country of Japan.


Notes: The person named Manjirō is Nakahama Manjirō, the first Japanese to visit the United States and an important translator during the Opening of Japan.

Reconstructing the above story, the fishermen of 1841 were 14-year-old Nakahama Manjirō and four of his friends, the brothers Goemon, Denzo, Toraemon, and Jusuke.

Their boat was wrecked on the island of Torishima.

The American whaler who rescued them was the John Howland, with Captain William H. Whitfield (1804–1886) in command.

The place where four of them were entrusted to a friend by Captain Whitfield was Honolulu.

Nakahama "John" Manjirō (1827–1898). also known as John Manjirō or John Mung. Source: Wikipedia.

Nakahama “John” Manjirō (1827–1898). also known as John Manjirō or John Mung. Source: Wikipedia.

Manjirō continued and enrolled in the Oxford School in the town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts and studied English and navigation for a year, apprenticed to a cooper, and then signed on to the whaler Franklin (Captain Ira Davis).

After whaling in the South Seas, the Franklin put into Honolulu in October 1847, where Manjirō again met his four friends.

In 1850 Manjirō again returned to Honolulu. Two of his companions were willing to return to Japan with him.

Toraemon is the one who remained in Hawaii, because he thought returning to Japan it would be too risky.

Jusuke was the one who died.

The boat they had purchased was the whaleboat Adventure, which was loaded aboard the bark Sarah Boyd (Captain Whitmore) along with gifts from the people of Honolulu.

The date they reached Okinawa was 1851-01-02 according to the lunar calendar. This was February 2, 1851 according to the Western calendar.

The Japanese officials stationed in Ryūkyū must have been members of the Satsuma Resident Commissioners Bureau in Naha. After months of questioning, the three were released in Nagasaki and eventually returned home to Tosa where Lord Yamauchi Toyoshige awarded them pensions.

Manjirō was appointed a minor official and became a valuable source of information.

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Kyūyō Vol. I, No. 53: Theories about the origin of dragon boat races.

It is said in the old chronicle [= Ryūkyū-koku Kyūki, 1731] that in olden times there were several dragon boats (haryūsen 爬竜舟) in Kume, Naha, Wakasa village, Kakinohana, Izumisaki, upper Tomari, and in lower Tomari. Today there are three boats, i.e. one each from Naha, Kume, and Tomari village. From the 28th day of the 4th month to the 2nd day of the 5th month they compete in the bay in front of the Chinese encampment [=Kume village]. On the 3rd day of the 5th months they row in the Western sea, and on the 4th day they compete in Naha harbor.

The Chūzan Seifu [1701] says that there were dragon boat races every year in the 5th month. It is also said that this kind of dragon boat was built and a rowing competition was carried out in the estuary for the first time after the 36 families from Fujian had arrived in Ryūkyū.

In popular sayings it is said that in olden times there was a person called Nagahama Taifū 長濱大夫. His real family name has not been handed down. Once, on receiving orders, he went to Fujian province and to Nanjing. At that time he made a model of (copied) a dragon boat. After his return home, on the 1st day of the 5th month a dragon boat rowing competition was held, carried out as a prayer for peace and security. This senior official once lived in Naha Nishimura, but today this place is called Nagahama.

Because of the above, every year on the 3rd day of the 5th month the persons riding the dragon boats must always wear shirokatabira 白帷子 (white linen kind of kimono) and row the Western sea.

Another theory says that King Ōōso 汪応祖 (rg. ~ 1402–1413) of the Southern Realm (Nanzan) once arrived in Nanjing and learned this art. At that time he witnessed a dragon boat race held in the bay and deeply admired the contest. Returning to this country [Ryūkyū], he chose Toyomi 豊見 as the place to built a castle looking over the river. This castle served as his residence and the place was named Tomigusuku. At that time, by imitating the manufacturing method of China, said King Ōōso built a dragon boat and on the 1st day of the 5th month he disported himself rowing in the Naha estuary. The people all saw this and also built their own dragon boats. Since then, coming the 4th day of the 5th month, the dragon boats of each village always arrive below Tomigusuku castle for a rowing competition held in that estuary.

Coming the current era, every year one day prior to the Dragon Boat Festival, the three dragon boats of Naha, Kume, and Tomari, always arrive at Toyomi river, and the prayer woman of Tomigusuku prepares offerings to pray for good fortune.

The dragon boat persons also go up to the harbor house in order to perform worship towards Toyomi river.

This is how dragon boat races are said to have originated. 

However, for a long time of successive generations no detailed accounts are known.


Haryū-bashi 爬龍橋 or “Dragon Boat Bridge.” Original photo by the author.

Haryū-bashi 爬龍橋 or “Dragon Boat Bridge.” Original photo by the author.

Notes: The Ryūkyū-word Hārī ハーリー literally means “to mount the dragon.” It derived from the Sino-Japanese reading of the characters Haryū 爬龍.

In Tomigusuku there is also the Haryū-bashi 爬龍橋 or “Dragon Boat Bridge.” It branches off at the beginning of Toyomi Ōhashi bridge over to Naha Kobagura.

The "Tomigusuku Haarii Song". Original photo by the author.

The “Tomigusuku Haarii Song”. Original photo by the author.

On the other side of the road is a stone monument, displaying the “Tomigusuku Hārī Song.” This song tells about the above mentioned King Ōōso 汪応祖 (rg. ~ 1402–1413) of the Southern Realm (Nanzan) and how dragon boat racing was introduced by him.

Tomigusuku also has a dragon boat club. Naturally it is their believe that dragon boat races actually originated in Tomigusuku.

Moreover, there is also the splendid statue of a dragon boat rower holding an Uēku in hands:

Statue of dragon boat rower. Original photo by the author.

Statue of dragon boat rower. Original photo by the author.

Hārī boat race on Tsubogawa, between Tomigusuku and Naha estuary. Original photo by the author.

Hārī boat race on Tsubogawa, between Tomigusuku and Naha estuary. Original photo by the author.

Hārī boats of the Tomigusuku Hārī Boat Race Association. Original photo by the author.

Hārī boats of the Tomigusuku Hārī Boat Race Association. Original photo by the author.

Depiction of the dragon boat race on Ryūtan Pond below Shuri Castle on occasion of the Chrysanthemum Festival (the 9th day of the 9th lunar month) held for the Chinese investiture envoys. From: "Zhongshan Chuanxin-lu" by Xu Baoguang, 1719.

Depiction of the dragon boat race on Ryūtan Pond below Shuri Castle on occasion of the Chrysanthemum Festival (the 9th day of the 9th lunar month) held for the Chinese investiture envoys. From: “Zhongshan Chuanxin-lu” by Xu Baoguang, 1719.

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Kyūyō Vol. XIX, No. 1540: In the 4th month of this year [1803], in the Kikoe-Ōgimi Udun 聞得大君御殿, the bell tower together with the western guard house (O-Banjo 御番所) were allowed to be re-erected.

In former times, a bell tower and a western guard house once existed in the Kikoe-Ōgimi Udun. In recent years [in 1780] they were abolished. In this year now, by order of Sashiki Aji Ganashi 佐敷按司加那志 (title of the queen of Ryūkyū), they have both been rebuilt.


The Kikoe-Ōgimi Udun 聞得大君御殿 is pronounced Chifijin Udun in the Okinawan pronunciation. It was the sanctuary and living site of the Kikoe-Ōgimi-ganashi (Chifijin-ganashi 聞得大君加那志), the supreme female deity-official of the Ryūkyū Kingdom.

The organization of female deity-official was established during the era of King Shō Shin 尚真王 (rg. 1477–1526). The Kikoe-Ōgimi in her role as a “Sister Goddess” (Onari-gami おなりがみ) was the supreme protector of the king and served in prayers for his longevity, for the prosperity of the country, for huge harvests, for safe sailing voyages and the like.

This organization of holy women, which were explicitly official posts within the royal government organization of the kingdom, is often but must not be confused with the practice of religuous mediums called yuta.

Modern adaption of the Kikoe-Ogimi in armor and with sword, from http://blog.goo.ne.jp/wa_gocoro/e/988da08d094553a532b95a7bbe570694

Modern adaption of the Kikoe-Ogimi in armor and with sword, from http://blog.goo.ne.jp/wa_gocoro/e/988da08d094553a532b95a7bbe570694

The first generation Kikoe-Ōgimi was King Shō Shin’s sister Gessei 月清. Since that time either the royal princess or the queen mother served in this office, which continued for 15 generations until the establishment of Okinawa Prefecture in 1879.

If there was one belief that Satsuma tried to curb than it was that of these holy women. Prior to the Satsuma invasion of 1609, the Kikoe-Ōgimi would perform prayers for victory in battle and it had been conluded by historians that she wore armor and treasured swords when she did so at the front court of Shuri castle. This happened, for example, prior to the subjugation of Yaeyama in 1500, and also prior to the 1609 Satsuma invasion. In the latter case, however, to no avail.

The location of the Kikoe-Ōgimi Udun was confirmed on an old early 18th century map of Shuri. According to it, this residence was situated in Teshiraji. At that time the site was surrounded by a stone wall and covered an area of about 6600 square meters.

Following the establishment of Okinawa Prefecture, the shrine of the Kikoe-Ōgimi Udun was transferred to Nakagusuku Udun, the residence of the Crown Prince. In the mid-Meiji period the grounds and building were part of sold government property and became private land. In 1929 the Okinawa Prefectural Normal School bought the land and used it as a dormitory site. After the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, the grounds became part of Shuri Junior High School site.

Today a memorial stone is located in Naha City Shuri Tera-chō 2-55, about 3 minutes walk from the Shuri Monorail station, in front of the main gate of Shuri Junior High School.

Posted in Book Reviews | Comments Off on Kyūyō Vol. XIX, No. 1540: In the 4th month of this year [1803], in the Kikoe-Ōgimi Udun 聞得大君御殿, the bell tower together with the western guard house (O-Banjo 御番所) were allowed to be re-erected.

Kyūyō Vol. XIX, No. 1503: In the year of enthronement of King Shō Sei, in 1803-01-05, Shimabuku Chikudun and others from Ikei village in Yonaha district were rewarded for distinguished service, and conferred upon court rank.

Thirteen persons from Kayō village in Kushi district and twelve persons from Abe village, riding on two ships of six sails each, arrived at the harbor entrance of Yonabaru. They had previously been on official business on behalf of the royal government.

At the time of their return [from official business] they met strong winds and shipwrecked on the ocean surface at Ikei village in Yonaha district. From that village, the eight persons Shimabuku Chikudun, Miyagi Chikudun, Miyazato Chikudun, Uchima Niya, Buta Uchima, Taru Kanegusuku, Masa Shinzato, and Ushi Higa – and besides these twelve more persons from the same district –  saw what happened and set out with eight small boats to come to the aid and rescue the persons.

They returned to the seashore in front of Sokei village in Kin district and went ashore. They changed clothes of the shipwrecked persons, made fire, cooked soup to drink and porridge to eat and brought them back to life. Then they sent them back to their original place of origin.

On account of the above events, the various officials of the district submitted a written report to the royal court.

On top of that, Shimabuku Chikudun and others already saved human lifes in both the years 1797 and 1799: once when an emergency of a ship within the Torishima traffic took place, and once when a Māransen was destroyed at Tomari village.

Coming today, since they provided distinguished service for a third time, all were bestowed court rank.


Note: Māransen 馬艦船 were the most popular Chinese-style junks used for inner-Okinawan traffic during the latter early modern period. This type of junk was imported from Chinese Fujian province around first half of the 18th century. It is a smaller sized ship and also known as Yanbarusen 山原船.

19th century scroll showing a Māransen (Yanbarusen) of Okinawa. From: Tokyo National Museum.

19th century scroll showing a Māransen (Yanbarusen) of Okinawa. From: Tokyo National Museum.

 

Posted in Kyūyō | Comments Off on Kyūyō Vol. XIX, No. 1503: In the year of enthronement of King Shō Sei, in 1803-01-05, Shimabuku Chikudun and others from Ikei village in Yonaha district were rewarded for distinguished service, and conferred upon court rank.

Kyūyō Vol. XXII, No. 1893: On 1848-03-10 a foreign ship arrived on the ocean surface at Kadekaru village in Nakazato district of Kume Island

On 1848-03-10 a barbarian ship arrived, sailing on the ocean surface at Kadekaru village in a distance of only about 3 miles from that village.

Nineteen barbarians (derogative for: foreigners) divided on 3 wooden boats came riding to the seashore. They spoke a language that could not be understood, and wrote characters that were unknown. By making gestures with their hands they requested to be provided living cattle. The islanders gave them two living cattle as presents.

The barbarians returned to their main ship and sailed away around nightfall.

From seeing the form of that ship and the appearance of those people as well as their clothes, they looked exactly like on the drawings of Dutch persons and ships.


Note: Dutch and Chinese traders were the only foreigners permitted to enter Japan for over two hundred years, from 1639 to 1854.

The Dutch were confined to the man-made island of Deshima in the port of Nagasaki. They were a matter of huge interest among the Japanese and a huge amount of artwork was produced depicting them.

Apparently it was from such artwork that the Okinawans estimated the visiting ‘barbarians’ to have been Dutch.

The Dutch settlements at Nagasaki, late 18th century (from the collection of the British Museum).

The Dutch settlements at Nagasaki, late 18th century (from the collection of the British Museum).

Ca. 1830-1860 (From the collection of the Tobacco and Salt Museum, Sumida-ku, Japan).

1. The man-made island Deshima in the port of Nagasaki. 2. Japanese ships. 3. Dutch ship.
Ca. 1830-1860 (From the collection of the Tobacco and Salt Museum, Sumida-ku, Japan).

Posted in Kyūyō | Comments Off on Kyūyō Vol. XXII, No. 1893: On 1848-03-10 a foreign ship arrived on the ocean surface at Kadekaru village in Nakazato district of Kume Island