How Miyake Sango was identified

Here I would like to shortly explain how Miyake Sango was identified as the person in the alleged Itosu photo. It began on January 10, 2018, when my good fellow researcher Thomas Feldmann (herinafter abbreviated to TF) sent me a link to a photo from the collection of the Digital Archives of the Naha City History Museum.

The photo was dated “around 1940.”

TF: Hanashiro?

AQ: If this picture is from around 1940, then the [alleged] Itosu photo is probably not Itosu…

TF: I will leave the analysis to others.

AQ: I would say this is the same person as in the two Itosu photos. Has this already been discussed somewhere? Or did you discover that?

TF: I don’t think he looks like the person in the three Itosu photos (the two new ones plus the one discovered in 2006). Time-wise, Hanashiro, who lived until 1945, would fit. …I discovered it earlier. So far no known discussion. You can use it, but also can mention that I found it. I leave it to you.

In short, TF believed it was Hanashiro Chōmo.

AQ: Yes, Hanashiro would fit in terms of timing, but not otherwise. You have to have studied “Karate-do Taikan,” which has numerous photos of Hanashiro, and that doesn’t add up.

AQ: I am right now trying to figure out the era of the uniforms…

TF: Yeah, go ahead. I will read about it in the group then.

In short, I figured that the date of 1940 was wrong and tried to verify it by looking at the police uniforms. Later, after I researched police uniforms of the different times, the chat continued.

AQ: By the way, I was able to verify that they are police uniforms. The photo is one of Kadena Police Station. I also found photos of other police stations. But I could only verify the same kind of uniform for the year 1922, see here:

AQ: The uniforms have changed over time. So it could be that the date [of 1940] in the “Itosu” photo is wrong.

TF: The uniform theme might be too vague.

AQ: You think so? There must have been clear rules…

In short, TF didn’t believe that police uniforms were an important clue.

More than one year later…

May 05, 2019

AQ: Do you remember the “Itosu” photo with the police uniforms?

TF: Of course I can remember the photo. I found it.

AQ: I sent that photo to Miguel [da Luz]. He took the photo to the prefectural police. But they couldn’t establish the era of use of the uniforms. However, they found other photos of people, including the man with the beard (= alleged “Itosu”). These photos were then dated to 1921. So it can’t be Itosu.

AQ: With this new information, Miguel then went to the OPG Karate Promotion Division and Nakamura Akira did the rest and found out who the person in the Itosu photo actually is. Miguel told me that the day before yesterday.

That said, the research into the police uniforms has led to the identification of the actual person in the photo, namely Miyake Sango. As regards supporting data, in 1907, the Okinawa District Committee of the Dai Nippon Butokukai dispatched sword instructor of the Okinawa police, Miyake Sango, to the martial arts demonstration held by the Dai Nippon Butokukai in Kyoto (Ryukyu Shinpo, June 4, 1907). So here is found the full name.

Since 2006, Miyake Sango has been confused as Itosu Anko. Then, in 2019, Nakamura Akira, a researcher for Okinawa Prefecture Karate Division, presented his discovery of these two pages below, which clearly identify the person as Miyake Sensei and were part of the full investigation. In May 2019, at the prefectural office in Naha, Okinawa, he presented me with a xerox of the first proof of Miyake’s identity. It is taken from the Okinawa Prefectural Normal School alumni magazine and shows the teachers and graduates of the year 1910. The person in the red circle is identified as “Miyake Sensei” (teacher Miyake). Afterwards I not only shared these information with TF, but also Nakamura’s business card so he could make direct contact himself, wich TF did successfully.

And this is the story of how Miyake Sango was identified.

P.S: In April 30, 2021, TF published his work ANKŌ ITOSU. THE MAN. THE MASTER. THE MYTH, which can be called the definite work on Itosu so far.

© 2023, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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