Second Shō dynasty

The Second Shō dynasty[1][2] (第二尚氏王朝[3][4][5][6], daini Shō-shi ō-chō) was the last dynasty of the Ryukyu Kingdom from 1469 to 1879, ruled by the Second Shō family[7] (第二尚氏, daini Shō-shi) under the title of King of Chūzan. This family took the family name from the earlier rulers of the kingdom, the first Shō family, even though the new royal family has no blood relation to the previous one. Until the abolition of Japanese peerage in 1947, the head of the family was given the rank of marquess while several cadet branches held the title of baron.

Second Shō
Royal house
Hidari mitsudomoe.svg
mitsudomoe, the Second Shō's mon
Parent familyMinamoto clan (official account)
FounderShō En
Current headMamoru Shō
Final rulerShō Tai

Kings of ChūzanEdit

The second Shō family claims Izena Island to be its ancestral home.[8][9] Born on the small island lying off the northwestern coast of Okinawa Island, its founder Kanemaru traveled to Shuri in 1441, and became a retainer of Prince Shō Taikyū. He was appointed as the treasurer after Shō Taikyū became the king. After a coup d'état in 1469, Kanemaru set aside King Shō Toku's family and ascended to the throne.[1] Assuming the family name of Shō, he pretended to be the crown prince of Shō Toku, which resulted in his reign being accepted by the Ming Dynasty in 1471. The kingdom reached its peak during the reign of the third king Shō Shin.

With the approval of the Tokugawa shogunate, the Satsuma Domain conquered Ryūkyū in 1609. The Tokugawa shogunate decided to keep the small polity as a separate entity, with intent to make it work as a broker in the shogunate's failed attempt to establish diplomatic relations with China. After several twists and turns, Ryūkyū's position within the shogunate was finalized in 1634. Ryūkyū, with its kokudaka assessed as 123,700 koku, was recognized as part of the Satsuma Domain,[10] though it was excluded from the omotedaka (表高, lit. "face value of kokudaka").[11] In 1635, Satsuma Domain ordered Ryūkyū's rulers to use the title of kokushi (国司, lit. "provincial governor") instead of "king".[10][12] After that, the Ryukyuan ruler signed "Ryūkyū kokushi" in the diplomatic letter to Japan.[13] However, the rulers during this period were referred to "kings" (, ō) in their Ishizushi [ja] (石厨子) inscriptions in the family mausoleum Tamaudun.[14] The title King of Chūzan was also remained in the diplomatic letter to China, concealing its vassalage to Satsuma. In 1712, Satsuma changed the policy and allowed the ruler to style himself King of Chūzan. [10][13]

In 1872, the Meiji government recognized the Ryūkyū Kingdom as a han and renamed it Ryūkyū Domain (琉球藩, Ryūkyū-han), Shō Tai was appointed as Domain King (藩王, han'ō). In 1879, the Meiji government abolished the Ryūkyū Domain, and the last king Shō Tai abdicated.


After the establishment of Japanese peerage, the last kind Shō Tai was given the rank of marquess. Shō Tai's three close relatives were given the rank of baron. The son of the last regent Ie Chōchoku, who was from a cadet branch of the Shō family, was also given the rank of baron.

  • Marquess Shō Tai (1885–1901), the last king
    • Marquess Shō Ten (1901–1920), the eldest son of Shō Tai
      • Marquess Shō Shō (1920–1923), the eldest son of Shō Ten
        • Marquess Shō Hiroshi (1923–1947), the eldest son of Shō Shō
  • Baron Shō In (1896–1905), the second son of Shō Tai
    • Baron Shō Rin (1905–1947), the eldest son of Shō In
  • Baron Shō Jun (1896–1945), the fourth son of Shō Tai
    • Baron Shō Sei (1945–1947), the second son of Shō Jun
  • Baron Nakijin Chōfu (1890–1915), a younger brother of the last king
    • Baron Nakijin Chōei (1916–1943), a grandson of Nakijin Chōfu
      • Baron Nakijin Chōshū (1943–1945), the eldest son of Nakijin Chōei
  • Baron Ie Chōei (1890–1904), the eldest son of Ie Chōchoku, the last regent
    • Baron Ie Chōshin (1905–1921), the eldest son of Ie Chōei
      • Baron Ie Chōjo (1921–1947), the eldest son of Ie Chōshin


The Chinese-style surname (sei) was used for diplomatic relations with China. The second Shō family took the surname Shō from the first Shō family only to disguise the coup d'état as a normal succession. Domestically, direct references to the king's personal name were avoided because they were considered rude.

The royal surname was managed in a rather Japanese-like manner. With some exceptions, only the immediate family members of the king were allowed to take the surname Shō (尚). Cadet branches used different surnames. In 1691, the king ordered all the cadet branches to assume the surname Shō (向), no matter how distant they were from the king. This new surname was pronounced the same as the king's one but had a different kanji with fewer strokes.[15]

In Ryūkyū's administrative documents and in relation to Satsuma, the Shō family's male members except the king used Japanese-style names, which consisted of kamei (house name), ikai (rank), and nanori (given name). A kamei referred to a land in which the samurai was enfeoffed by the king. Because the Shō family members occupied a large portion of high-ranking positions, they often changed their kamei during the course of their career. A nanori, which was given when the person reached adulthood, consisted of two kanji. The first character, called nanori-gashira, was shared by all the male members of a lineage. In other words, the "given name", not the "house name", effectively indicated the person's lineage. The king's order of 1691, mentioned above, also designated Chō (朝) as the Shō family's nanori-gashira.[15] The character Chō (朝) was chosen to indicate an affinity to Minamoto no Tametomo (源為), who by that time had been considered to be the father of Shunten, the legendary king of Chūzan.[16] While the Chūzan Seikan (1650) only presented a wishful speculation that Shō En's father might have descended from a former king, Sai On's edition of the Chūzan Seifu (1725) explicitly referred to Gihon as a possible ancestor, connecting the second Shō family to the Minamoto clan through Shunten.[17]

Under the modern Japanese naming regulation, a person has only two name components, a family name and a given name. Only the last king Shō Tai and his children chose the Chinese-style surname Shō (and accordingly, Chinese-style given names for males). The other members of the family chose the combinations of kamei and nanori. Hence, the king's younger brother is referred to as Nakijin Chōfu, not Shō Hitsu.

Family crestEdit

A Japanese-style banner regularly displayed on the Shō family's official ships bound for Satsuma.

The second Shō family adopted as its mon or family crest the mitsudomoe, which is otherwise closely associated with the Shinto deity Hachiman and Hachiman shrines across Japan. It was called hidari gomon (左御紋) in Okinawa. Since it was the royal family's crest, its usage was once severely restricted in Okinawa. Because of this, Okinawans who visited mainland Japan shortly after the abolition of the domain were surprised that mitsudomoe banners were flown everywhere.[18]

Fragmentary sources suggest that the use of mitsudomoe can be traced back to the first Shō family although not necessarily as its family crest. Together with the date of 1500, a mitsudomoe was inscribed on a wooden coffin found in the Momojana tombs in northern Okinawa. The divine name of King Shō Toku was Hachiman-aji and his half-brother was called Hachiman-ganashi. Shō Toku also founded a Hachiman shrine named Asato Hachimangū. For its close connections to the Hachiman cult, some scholars speculate that the first Shō family had its roots in Wakō pirates worshiping Hachiman.[19][20]

Just like the king's overlord the Shimazu clan of the Satsuma Domain decorated its official ships with banners of Shimazu's maru ni jūmonji family crest, the Shō family's official ships bound for Satsuma displayed a Japanese-style banner featuring the Shō family's family crest. Private ships were forbidden to do so. Itai Hidenobu, an expert on pre-modern Japanese ships, conjectured that by following the mainland Japanese practice, Ryūkyū had shown allegiance to Satsuma. Since Ryūkyū was ordered to conceal from China its subjugation to Satsuma, the banner is highly unlikely to have been flown during voyages to China.[21]

An oddly colored, clockwise version of the banner of the Shō family's ship drifted to mainland Japan in 1798. Presumably a product of miscommunication within mainland Japan. Note that the authentic family crest features counterclockwise swirls.

In late 1797, a privately-owned cargo ship chartered by the kingdom was wrecked on its way back from Satsuma and in the next year eventually drifted to Chōshi, a port in modern-day Chiba Prefecture. Since Chōshi was not far from Edo, the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate, this incident gathered a great deal of attention. Because it was on the kingdom's official duty, the ship displayed a standard Japanese-style banner of the family crest. However, some miscommunication within mainland Japan resulted in the creation of a highly distorted variant of it, which was erroneously labeled as a "flag of Ryūkyū" (琉玖; note the non-standard choice of the second character) in the Bankoku Hakuki Zufu (1854) and a couple of other books published in mainland Japan from the end of the Edo period to the beginning of the Meiji period.[22]

A flag created by USCAR in 1954.

Another colored variant of the mitsudomoe was created by the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR) in 1954. The American military occupier used the flag unofficially and informally for a brief period of time in 1954 but never officially adopted it.[23][24] The flag was part of USCAR's effort in creating a Ryukyuan identity in order to counter the ever-intensifying reversion movement by the Okinawan people, or Ryukyuans as the occupier labeled them. At first, USCAR tried to impose the complete ban on the display of the flag of Japan but was unable to do so because the U.S. acknowledged that Japan had "residual sovereignty" over the islands. USCAR grudgingly allowed special conditions on when the occupied could fly the Japanese flag, and Okinawan people fought for an unconditional right. To counter the reversion movement, USCAR attempted to create a Ryukyuan national flag. The American occupier believed that the new flag, which was based on the family crest of the old Shō kings, would stir a Ryukyuan nationalistic spirit. USCAR displayed the flag at the Ryukyu-American Friendship Centers but was soon disappointed with the occupied's apathy toward the former royal family's symbol. Most people did not even know what the symbol stood for. The unofficial and informal experiment went largely unnoticed by Okinawans. For this reason, historian Masaaki Gabe called this flag a "ghost flag."[23][24]

This flag appeared in a historical novel titled Ryūkyū shigeki: Tomoebata no akebono (1946). The fiction was written by Yara Chōchin (1895–1957) and was mimeographed in Nara, to which he had fled the war. It remains unresolved whether USCAR referred to Yara's self-published novel.[25]

The highly-distorted banner-turned flag once circulated in mainland Japan, but not in Okinawa, has been erroneously displayed as "the flag of the Ryūkyū Kingdom" in Wikipedia for many years. In 2012, it got media coverage. In a column on the Ryūkyū Shimpō, Kina Daisaku, a part-time curator at Naha City Museum of History, pointed to the fact that Wikipedia hosted this flag with the wrong caption. He was unable to find contemporary sources in which the fake flag is used as the national flag. He argued that, as a pre-modern polity, Ryūkyū had no notion of national flag. He raised concern about the circulation of misinformation.[25]

Family treeEdit

Second Shō family
Shō Shoku
d. 1434
Shō En 尚円
Shō Sen'i 尚宣威
Shō Shin 尚真
Sho Ikō

Urasoe Chōman
Shō ChōeiShō Shōi
Nakijin Chōten
Shō Ryūtoku
Goeku Chōfuku
Shō Sei 尚清
Shō KyōjinShō Gendō
BainanShō Kōgyō

Urasoe Chōkyō
Shō TeiShō Gen 尚元
Shō Yōsō
Katsuren Chōsō
Shō KanshinShō Kan
Chatan Chōri
Shō Hangoku
Kochinda Chōten
Shō Sōken
Ie Chōgi
Shō Kōtoku
Yomitan Chōbyō
Shō I
Yonagusuku Chōken
Shō Kōhaku
Kumegushikawa Chōtsū
Shō Ei 尚永
Shō Kyū

Kin Chōkō
Shō Kō
Gushichan Chōsei
Shō Nei 尚寧
Shō Ken
Katsuren Chōri
Shō KanShō Tei
Gushichan Chōri
Shō Hō 尚豊
Shō Sei
Kin Chōtei
Shō Ō
Kin Chōton
Shō Kyō
Kumegushikawa Chōei
Shō Zenku
Uchima Chōmoku
Shō Kokushi

Nakijin Chōyō
Shō Kyō
Urasoe Chōryō
Shō Bun
Nakagusuku Chōeki
Shō Ken 尚賢
Shō Shitsu 尚質
Shō Tei 尚貞
Shō Kōki
Ōzato Chōryō
Shō Kōnin
Nago Chōgen
Shō Kōsai
Chatan Chōai
Shō Kōtoku
Kochinda Chōshun
Shō Kōshin
Motobu Chōhei
Shō Kōzen
Ginowan Chōgi
Shō Jun 尚純
Shō Kei
Shō Mō
Oroku Chōki
Shō Ki
Misato Chōtei
Shō Eki 尚益
Shō Kan
Shō Sei
Goeku Chōtoku
Shō Kei 尚敬
Shō Tetsu
Chatan Chōki
Shō Boku 尚穆
Shō Wa
Yomitan Chōken
Shō Tetsu
Shō To
Urasoe Chōō
Shō Shū
Yoshimura Chōgi
Shō Yō
Ginowan Chōshō
Shō Kaku
Misato Chōki
Shō HōShō On 尚温
Shō KōShō Kō 尚灝
Shō Sei 尚成
Shō Iku 尚育
Shō YōShō Jun
Ōzato Chōkyō
Shō IShō Ken
Ie Chōchoku
Shō Ken
Yoshimura Chōshō
Shō Shin
Shō TenShō Shū
Nago Chōboku
Shō ShunShō Tai 尚泰
Shō Hitsu
Nakijin Chōfu
Shō Ten
Shō In
Nakijin Chōkō
Shō KyōShō Jun
Shō Shū
Shō KōShō Ji
Shō Shō 尚昌
Shō Hiroshi 尚裕
Shō Mamoru 尚衞


  1. ^ a b Kerr, George H. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing. p. 102-104. Sho Toku's family was set aside. His heirs were barred forever from high government office and from marriage into the new royal family, the "Second Sho Dynasty".
  2. ^ Richard Pearson (2009). "Okinawa: The Rise of an Island Kingdom : Archaeological and Cultural Perspectives : Proceedings of a Symposium, Kingdom of the Coral Seas, November 17, 2007, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London". Archaeopress. In an alternate scheme, the First Sho Dynasty ( 1429 – 1469 ) was established by Sho Hashi in 1429 and the Second Sho Dynasty ( 1470 - 1879 ) was established by Sho En in 1470 ( ed . ) ) {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ 林陸朗 (1991). 日本史総合辞典 (in Japanese). 東京書籍. p. 438. ISBN 9784487731756. この第 1 尚氏王朝から第 2 尚氏王朝の成立期にかけて( 14 世紀後半から 15 世紀にかけて)沖縄は活発な中継貿易を展開し、中国・朝鮮・東南アジアの諸国との交易をもって沖縄の黄金時代をもたらした。
  4. ^ 外間守善 (1986). 沖縄の歴史と文化 (in Japanese). 中央公論新社. p. 63. ISBN 9784121007995. 一四六九年、第一尚氏王朝は、王朝内の実力者であった内間金丸を中心にした勢力に倒されてしまう。金丸は翌年即位して尚円と称した。第二尚氏王朝の成立である。
  5. ^ 高良倉吉 (1981). 沖繩歴史への視点 (in Japanese). 沖繩タイムス社. p. 121. 彼のシヱーマに阿麻和利とその時代を位置過程に三山や第一、第二尚氏王朝の出現を位置づけるという画期的な論理をこれに対置している。
  6. ^ 宮城栄昌; 高宮廣衛 (1983). 沖縄歴史地図 (in Japanese). 柏書房. p. 3. この時期に三つの小国家ができるが、 15 世紀前半、これらの小国家は統一され、第一尚氏王朝およびそれに続く第二尚氏王朝による王国が形成された。
  7. ^ Kerr, George H. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. Singapore: Tuttle Publishing, 2000. pp467.
  8. ^ "Shō En." Okinawa rekishi jinmei jiten (沖縄歴史人名事典, "Encyclopedia of People of Okinawan History"). Naha: Okinawa Bunka-sha, 1996. p39.
  9. ^ "Shō En." Okinawa konpakuto jiten (沖縄コンパクト事典, "Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia"). Ryukyu Shimpo (琉球新報). 1 March 2003.
  10. ^ a b c Kamiya Nobuyuki 紙屋敦之 (2013). Higashi Ajia no naka no Ryūkyū to Satsuma-han 東アジアのなかの琉球と薩摩藩 (in Japanese). Azekura Shobō 校倉書房.
  11. ^ 藩名・旧国名がわかる事典 薩摩藩(コトバンク) (in Japanese).
  12. ^ Yamada Tetsushi 山田 哲史. 琉球国王の薩摩藩主に対する忠誠の論理に関する研究ノート-王位継承過程と起請文前書の考察- (PDF) (in Japanese).
  13. ^ a b Kamiya Nobuyuki 紙屋敦之. 琉球使節の解体 (PDF).
  14. ^ Kurayoshi Takara 高良 倉吉. 玉御殿の石厨子銘書について-仲松=高木説的解釈の問題点- (PDF) (in Japanese)., p.75
  15. ^ a b Dana Masayuki 田名真之 (2014). Kinsei Okinawa no sugao 近世沖縄の素顔 (in Japanese). Okinawa Bunko おきなわ文庫.
  16. ^ Ikemiya Masaharu 池宮正治 (2015). "Rekishi to setsuwa no aida: katarareru rekishi" 歴史と説話の間: 語られる歴史. Ryūkyū-shi bunka ron 琉球史文化論 (in Japanese). Kasama Shoin 笠間書院. pp. 23–52.
  17. ^ Dana Masayuki 田名真之 (2008). "Ryūkyū ōken no keifu ishiki to Minamoto no Tametomo torai denshō" 琉球王権の系譜意識と源為朝渡来伝承 [Ryuyuan Royal Succession Ideology and The Minamoto Temetomo Legend]. In Kyūshū shigaku kenkyūkai 九州史学研究会 (ed.). Kyōkai no aidentiti 境界のアイデンティティ (in Japanese). Iwata Shoin 岩田書院. pp. 181–196.
  18. ^ Taguchi Nishū 田口二州 (1978). Ryūkyū monshō fu 琉球紋章譜 (in Japanese). p. 7.
  19. ^ Yoshinari Naoki 吉成直樹 (2011). Ryūkyū no seiritsu 琉球の成立 (in Japanese). pp. 227–232.
  20. ^ Tanigawa Ken'ichi 谷川健一; Orikuchi Shinobu 折口信夫 (2012). Ryūkyū ōken no genryū 琉球王権の源流 (in Japanese). pp. 46–47, 92–104.
  21. ^ Itai Hidenobu 板井英伸 (2008). "Naha-kō zu byōbu" ni miru 19 seiki Naha-kō no fune" 『那覇港図屏風』にみる19世紀那覇港の船 [19th Century Boats in Naha Port as Depicted in the Naha Port Folding Screen]. Hikaku minzoku kenkyū 比較民俗研究 (in Japanese) (22): 93–136. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  22. ^ Saigusa Daigo 三枝大悟 (2017). "Okinawa kenritsu hakubutsukan bijutsukan shozō "Ryūkyū sen no zu" to kanren shiryō" 沖縄県立博物館・美術館所蔵「琉球船の図」と関連資料 ["Painting of Ryūkyū's ship" and its Related Documents]. Okinawa kenritsu hakubutsukan hakubutsukan kiyō 沖縄県立博物館・美術館・博物館紀要 (in Japanese) (11): 51–64. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  23. ^ a b Gabe Masaaki 我部政明 (1996). Nichibei kankei no naka no Okinawa 日米関係のなかの沖縄 (in Japanese). pp. 98–104.
  24. ^ a b Obermiller, David John (2006). The United States Military Occupation of Okinawa: Politicizing and Contesting Okinawan Identity, 1945–1955. pp. 358–364.
  25. ^ a b Kina Daisaku 喜納大作 (12 June 2012). "Maboroshi no Ryūkyū ōkoku ki" 幻の琉球王国旗. Ryūkyū Shimpō 琉球新報 (in Japanese).