List of monarchs of Ryukyu Islands

King of Ryūkyū

Crown of the King of Ryūkyū
Style Your Majesty (首里天加那志)
First monarch Shunten
Last monarch Shō Tai
Formation 1429
Abolition March 17, 1879
Residence Shuri Castle
Pretender(s) Mamoru Shō

The list of monarchs of the Ryūkyū Islands extends from King Shunten in the 12th century through the last king in the 19th century.

Tenson Dynasty

According to the "Mirror of Chūzan" (中山世鑑, chūzan seikan), the founder of the Tenson Dynasty (天孫王朝) was a descendant of Amamikyu (阿摩美久, the goddess of creation in the Ryukyuan religion). Though the "Mirror of Chūzan" said that the Tenson Dynasty had 25 early kings, the names of the other kings are still unknown.

Shunten Dynasty

In 1186, the 25th king's throne was usurped by Riyū (利勇). Shunten overthrew Riyū the next year, becoming king of the Ryūkyū Islands. He established the Shunten Dynasty.

Name Hanzi/Kanji Mikoto Reign Age at death
Shunten 舜天 Mikotoatsushi
1187–1237 71
Shunbajunki 舜馬順熙/舜馬順熈 Kiekimi
1238–1248 63
Gihon 義本 None 1249–1259 ?

Eiso Dynasty

In 1259, Gihon, who was the last king of Shunten Dynasty, abdicated his throne. His Sessei Eiso succeeded him.

Name Hanzi Mikoto Reign Age at death
Eiso (Ryukyu) 英祖 Ezo no tedako
1260–1299 70
Taisei 大成 Unknown 1300–1308 9 or 61
Eiji 英慈 Unknown 1309–1313 45
Tamagusuku 玉城 Unknown 1314–1336 40
Seii 西威 Unknown 1337–1354 21

Sanzan period

The Sanzan Period is a period of history of the Ryūkyū Kingdom that lasted from 1322 until 1429. During these years, the island of Okinawa was politically divided into three kingdoms.

(Chūzan Kingdom, 1355–1406)

Chūzan Kingdom had paid tribute to Ming court in 1372 and 1404.

Name Hanzi Mikoto Reign Age at death
Satto 察度 Ufu mamono
1355–1397 74
Bunei 武寧 Naga no mamono
1398–1406 50

(Nanzan Kingdom, 1337–1429)

Nanzan Kingdom had paid tribute to Ming court in 1383 and 1388.

Name Hanzi/Kanji Mikoto Reign Age at death
Ufusatu 承察度 None 1337–1396 ?
Oueishi 汪英紫 None 1388–1402 ?
Ououso 汪應祖/汪応祖 None 1403–1413 ?
Tafuchi 達勃期 None 1413–1414 ?
Taromai 他魯每 None 1415–1429 ?

(Hokuzan Kingdom, 1322–1416)

Hokuzan Kingdom had paid tribute to Ming court in 1383.

Name Hanzi Mikoto Reign Age at death
Haniji 怕尼芝 None 1322–1395 ?
Min None 1396–1400 ?
Hananchi 攀安知 None 1401–1416 ?

The First Shō Dynasty

(Chūzan Kingdom, 1407–1429;

Ryūkyū Kingdom, 1429–1469)

In 1406, Bunei was overthrown and Shō Shishō became the nominal king of Chūzan Kingdom, placed there by his eldest son Shō Hashi as part of a power bid to control Chūzan while giving an appearance to China of proper Confucian respect for one's elders. Hashi then set out to conquer the island, conquering the other aji (tribal lords) of Chuzan and then, in 1416, the northern kingdom, Hokuzan. In 1421, after the death of his father, Shō Hashi became the ruler of Chuzan and claimed to China that he had unified the island of Okinawa and asked to be recognized as the king (although he had not, in fact, yet conquered the entire island; Nanzan, the southernmost kingdom, remained independent until 1429). Thus, in 1422, the Hongwu Emperor recognized Hashi as king, gave Hashi the surname Shō (尚) as the designator for his dynasty, and gave a new name to the country: Ryūkyū Kingdom.[1]

Name Hanzi/Kanji Mikoto Reign Age at death
Shō Shishō 尚思紹 Kimishi mamono
1407–1421 67
Shō Hashi 尚巴志 Sejitaka mamono
1422–1439 67
Shō Chū 尚忠 Unknown 1440–1442 54
Shō Shitatsu 尚思達 Kimiteda
1443–1449 41
Shō Kinpuku 尚金福 Kimishi
1450–1453 55
Shō Taikyū 尚泰久 Nanojiyomoi
also called
1454–1460 45
Shō Toku 尚德/尚徳 Hachiman aji
also called
1461–1469 29

The Second Shō Dynasty

(Ryūkyū Kingdom (琉球王國), 1470–1872; Ryūkyū Domain (琉球藩) of Japan, 1872–1879)

In 1469, Shō Toku, the last king of The First Shō Dynasty, was killed in a coup d'état with no son to succeed. So courtiers elected Shō En as king, and established The Second Shō Dynasty.

During King Shō Shin's reign, the Ryūkyū Kingdom was rich, powerful and prosperous, conquering the Sakishima Islands and centralizing the royal government. It was called "the Great Days of Chūzan", a "golden period" in Ryūkyūan history. But the military strength of the Ryukyu Kingdom soon declined after his death, although later kings made gains against the Satsuma Domain of Japan in conquering the Amami Islands. In 1609, Satsuma Domain invaded the Ryukyu Kingdom, capturing the Amami Islands and landing on Okinawa Island. After taking Nakijin Castle, Urasoe Castle, and Shuri Castle, King Shō Nei was taken as a prisoner to Kagoshima and later to Edo (modern day Tokyo). The king was forced to sign an oath of vassalage to the head of Satsuma Domain. From then on, Ryukyu was a vassal state of Satsuma; the king had to pay tribute to both China and Satsuma.

The Ryukyu Kingdom became a Han of Japan in 1872.

In 1879, Japan replaced Ryūkyū Domain with Okinawa Prefecture, formally annexing the islands. King Shō Tai was dethroned and given the title of marquis and removed to Tokyo.

Name Hanzi/Kanji Mikoto Reign Age at death
Shō En 尚圓/尚円 Kanamaru aji suetsugi no ōnishi
"Kanamaru ajisohi"
1470–1476 61
Shō Sen'i 尚宣威 Iri no yononushi
1477 48
Shō Shin 尚真 Okiyakamowe
1477–1526 61
Shō Sei 尚清 Tenzoku no ajisohi
1527–1555 59
Shō Gen 尚元 Tedaji ajisohi
1556–1572 44
Shō Ei 尚永 Ezoniyasohi ajisohi
also called
1573–1586 30
Shō Nei 尚寧 Megama ajisohi
1587–1620 56
Shō Hō 尚豐/尚豊 Tenkiyama ajisohi
1621–1640 50
Shō Ken 尚賢 1641–1647 23
Shō Shitsu 尚質 1648–1668 39
Shō Tei 尚貞 1669–1709 64
Shō Eki 尚益 1710–1712 34
Shō Kei 尚敬 1713–1751 52
Shō Boku 尚穆 1752–1795 55
Shō On 尚溫/尚温 1796–1802 18
Shō Sei 尚成 1803 3
Shō Kō 尚灝 1804–1828 47
Shō Iku 尚育 1829–1847 34
Shō Tai 尚泰 1848–1879 58

See also


  1. Kerr, George. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. Tokyo: Tuttle, 2000. p. 89.


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