Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Ryukyu Kingdom (Second Sho Dynasty)

Sho Hashi’s descendants ruled successfully until 1461 when a young king by the name of Toku came to the throne. Prosperity diminished from the foolish spending of Toku’s father, Sho Taikyu, whose policies had improved the lifestyles of the royal family and the upper class, while the rest of the island lived a life of poverty. Toku was too young to recognize the chaos his father had caused, creating discontent among the pheasants that were not eager to see their taxes spent on lavish parties for the royal family. Even worse, he isolated himself from the royal court when he led an expedition to conquer a small meaningless island to the north that lay enroute to Kyushu.

Toku’s actions set the stage for a rebellion upon his death. Kanemaru, who had served as treasurer to previous kings, led the successful coup and declared himself king in the year 1470. He took the name Sho En and began a second dynasty that would see four hundred years of rule by the Sho En royal bloodline.

Upon receiving confirmation of his authority from the Emperor of China, Sho en enjoyed a brief but successful reign on the throne. Sho En changed the way future kings would make decisions by giving the high priestess of Shuri court a level of authority his ancestors had never seen before. His decision enabled noro high priestesses to play pivotal roles in political decisions that affected the entire kingdom.

King Sho En, 1415-1476
When Sho En’s son, Sho Shin, came to the throne in 1477, he was just 14 years old. Despite his young age, he maintained power with the help of his mother during the early years of his rule. Eventually, Sho Shin showed natural leadership, and his wisdom guided the Ryukyu Kingdom through 50 years of prosperity.

A document sent by the Ming Emperor Xiao Zong to the Ryukyuan Chuzan King Sho Shin.
Under Sho Shin’s rule, Shuri Castle and its surrounding area saw a boom in construction while Shuri Port bustled with economic activity as Ryukyuan ships continued to expand trade. The increase in overseas trade helped to stimulate the economy and kept the warlords happy. Later, Sho Shin persuaded the warlords to leave their castles and live near Shuri castle, enabling him to exercise power throughout the kingdom.

King Sho Shin, 1465-1526

Sho Shin’s reign ended upon his death in 1526. The years that followed saw rising tensions in Southeast Asia, and began keeping a watchful eye on European expansion into the Asian region. For centuries, Japan had viewed the Ryukyu Kingdom as an unimportant neighbor, but world events began to force some leaders in Edo to think differently.

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