Sasamori Gisuke

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  • Born: 1845
  • Died: 1915
  • Japanese: 笹森儀助 (Sasamori Gisuke)

Sasamori Gisuke was the fifth Meiji period governor of Amami Ôshima, serving in that position for four years, from 1894 to 1898. He is also known as an explorer, who surveyed and mapped areas of Japan.

Born in Hirosaki han, he became governor of Amami Ôshima in 1894. The previous year, he traveled elsewhere in the Ryûkyû Islands, including visiting the former Ryukyuan royal capital of Shuri, as part of a survey of natural resources and agricultural production requested by Minister of the Interior Inoue Kaoru;[1] Gisuke recorded in his diary that the local people still treated the former King of Ryûkyû, Shô Tai, and the former crown prince, Shô Ten, with immense respect, even lining the streets and bowing down to watch them pass along the road. Gisuke wrote that the Okinawans treated the Japanese as intruders or invaders, and that when Imperial Prince Kitashirakawa-no-miya paid a formal visit to Okinawa that same year (June 1893), not a single member of the former Ryukyuan royal court accepted invitations to formal banquets held by the prince. According to Gisuke, there was not a single instance of an Okinawan marrying a Japanese, nor of a Japanese taking up permanent residence in the prefecture; deeply supportive of the Japanese imperialistic project in Okinawa, he wrote that "the natives’ feeling is one of strong attachment to the restoration of the old regime, and for this reason their attitude has not been satisfactory to this day."[2]

After becoming governor of Amami Ôshima the following year, he undertook a number of extensive surveys of the situation on the island, and made efforts to relieve people of their debt burdens and to curb usury by sugar magnates. He led reforms of the sugar industry, promoted education, and attempted policies to combat the spread of epidemics.[3]

During his time overseeing Amami Ôshima, he led efforts to get monuments or historical markers erected on the island in honor of Saigô Takamori and Katsu Kaishû. In addition to those, a monument in his honor has since been erected on the island as well.[4]


  1. Watanabe Miki 渡辺美季, "Ryûkyû Okinawa hontô torishirabesho shoshû Shurijô no zu ni tsuite" 「『琉球沖縄本島取調書』所収「首里城ノ図」について」, Tôkyô daigaku shiryôhensanjo fuzoku gazô shiryô kaiseki sentaa tsûshin 東京大学史料編纂所附属画像史料解析センター通信 90 (Oct 2020), p18.
  2. Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912, Columbia University Press (2002), 307.
  3. Monument to Sasamori, Tatsugô-chô, Amami.[1]
  4. "Sego-don Yukari Map," plaque in Tatsugô, Amami.[2]