The alleged photos of Itosu Ankō actually show Miyake Sango

I have written about three different photos allegeldy showing Itosu Anko, the father of modern karate (1, 2, and 3). Then, I provided a translation of an article from the Okinawa Times which stated that the person is not Itosu, but a man named Miyake.

Nakamura Akira, a researcher with the Okinawa Prefecture Karate Division, has confirmed a total of eight photographs from the same time period showing the same man. Among these, on a graduation photo of 1910 published in the magazine of the Okinawa Prefectural Teachers College (from the possession of the Ryukyu University Library), aforementioned man is described as one “Miyake sensei.“

In addition to this, the man was als found in a group photo of members of the prefectural police. As a result of investigating the prefectural police staff records and other materials of the time, Nakamura was able to verify that the person in the photo is Miyake Sango (1847 – date of death unknown), who was born in Miyazaki Prefecture. After having taken part in the Satsuma Rebellion (an 1877 uprising in Satsuma led by Saigō Takamori), Miyake came to Okinawa and served as a teacher of Gekken (an original form of Kendo) at the Prefectural Teachers College (Shuri) and the Prefectural Middle School (Shuri) as well as at the prefectural police.

Well, several people adopted the story of the photos and also claimed it was Itosu Ankō. The photo was then shared in all sorts of language pages on Itosu Ankō on Wikipedia. When in 2019 It was discovered that the man was actually called Miyake and not Itosu, the karate world was shocked.

To this day some people claim “there is no proof that the person in the photo is Miyake, and not Itosu.” Even on Wikipedia, someone changes the new photo considered to be Itosu back to the old one showing Miyake Sango. Until now I have not published all I know but I think it is time to add the critical information that identifies the person as Itosu.

So here it is. The person in the red circle is clearly identified as “Miyake Sensei” (“teacher Miyake”), not Itosu Ankō. As described earlier, from other photos and data it was verfied that his full name was Miyake Sango and he was a kendō teacher at Okinawa police as well.
Since 2006, this person has been confused as Itosu Ankō, until Nakamura Akira in 2019 presented his discovery of these two pages here, which clearly identify the person as Miyake Sensei.

I hope this puts the Itosu photo controversy to a rest.

© 2023, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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