The Tsūkō Ichiran as described by Sakamaki Shunzo, 1963

20tsūkō Ichiran. The most comprehensive compilation of records concerning Ryūkyū to be produced in Tokugawa Japan (1603-1868) appears as the first section of a voluminous work called Tsūkō Ichiran (“Survey of Foreign Relations”). The compilation was completed in 1853 by a staff of ten men working under the direction of Hayashi Kō, Daigaku-no-Kami (Lord of Learning), by order of the Tokugawa government. The Tsūkō Ichiran is a collection of records of Japanese contacts with various foreign countries or their nationals, covering a period of 260 years, from 1566 to 1825.

It was published (1912-1913) in an 8-volume edition by the Kokusho Kankōkai (Society for the Publication of Japanese Texts) of Tokyo, with Hayakawa Junzaburō as editor. The section on Ryūkyū comprises the first 291 pages of Volume 1.
The Ryūkyū account in the Tsūkō Ichiran is replete with copies of and extracts from official documents, and has some 900 bibliographical citations, including some 200 discrete works, ranging from official chronicles to obscure personal diaries, the great majority being in manuscript form.

There are a number of drawings of Ryūkyūan hats, banners, and musical instruments (pp. 82-83, 90-92). The editorial staff obviously took great pains to confine themselves to meticulous and objective compilation, with little editorializing, albeit with occasional questions as to the meaning and accuracy of quoted texts. The account is presented in chronological sequence, chapter by chapter.

Sakamaki Shunzo. Picture source:

Sakamaki Shunzo. Picture source:

The first two chapters summarize Ryūkyūan history through the Satsuma conquest of 1609. Chapter III deals with King Shō Nei’s visit to Edo in 1610, and Chapter IV with his return to Okinawa from Satsuma. Succeeding chapters present detailed records of Ryūkyūan missions to Edo in 1634, 1644, 1649, 1653, 1671, 1682, 1711, 1715, 1718, 1749, 1752, 1764, 1790, 1796, and 1806. Chapters XXII and XXIII treat of Ryūkyūan relations with China, and the final one, Chapter XXIV, deals with cases of shipwrecked Ryūkyūans landing in Japan, and of shipwrecked Japanese and others drifting to Ryūkyūan shores.

Following these 24 chapters on Ryūkyū, the Tsūkō Ichiran is concerned with other countries or subjects by chapters as follows: Korea, 25-137; foreign trade at Nagasaki, 138-169; Annam and Naban, 170-197; China, 198-238; Holland, 239-251; England, 252-262; Cambodia, 263-264; Siam, 265-269; Borneo, Bantam, Malacca, Java, etc., 270-272; Russia, 273-321; America, 322; and a Supplement, on matters concerning coastal defense in various localities in Japan.


Sakamaki Shunzo: Ryūkyū: A Bibliographical Guide to Okinawan Studies. Surveying Important Primary Sources and Writings in Ryūkyūan, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 1963. pp. 103-104.

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