Bai Ien

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  • Born: 1813/9/12
  • Died: 1881
  • Titles: 高里親雲上 (Takazato peechin), 福地親雲上 (Fukuji peechin)
  • Japanese/Chinese: 唯延 (Bai Ien / Bèi wéiyán)

Bai Ien was the seventh head of the Bai family of the scholar-aristocracy of Naha.

The second son of sixth family head Bai Iki, he was named heir upon his birth, as his older brother Bai Isuke had died young two years earlier. Bai Ien had his coming-of-age ceremony in 1817, at the age of 15, and was named gohyôgu atai hissha (secretary of equipping soldiers) in 1835 (a position he held for 26 months), along with the title of Takazato chikudun and the rank of chikudun zashiki (Junior Ninth Rank).

His first son, Bai Ikyô, was born on 1837/5/6. In 1840, at the age of 20, Bai Ien was then appointed Naha hissha - secretary to the Naafa satunushi who oversaw the four districts of the port-city. He would hold this position for two years, and be reappointed to it for another two-year term beginning in 1843. His second son, Bai Izen, who would later become his successor, was in the meantime born on 1842/10/18.

In 1844, Bai Ien came to serve as ukaiya mui, a position within the Satsuma han resident office in the city, under former zaiban bugyô Kawaminami Jirôemon. Two years later, in conjunction with European ships beginning to call at the port, Bai Ien served as kasôyori hissha for eight months, and as bettô to Satsuma official Niiro Shirôemon.

His first two daughters, Umitû and Magami, were born on 1847/7/1 and 1848/9/25. Beginning in 1849, Bai Ien served as secretary (hissha) at the Shinoboseza for 12 months, and then as Naha yori hissha for 23 months. On 1851/6/1, when Bai Ien was 39 years old, his third son, Bai Iga, was born. A month later, on 7/3, his eldest son, Ikyô, died. Now age 40, Bai Ien served a term of 15 months, beginning in 1852, as bettô to Satsuma official Kawakami Shikibu, followed by a term of 33 months as bettô to zaiban bugyô Tanigawa Jirôbee.

In 1856, he was named secretary (hissha) to the Sugar Guild (satôza), a position he held for 13 months. Upon being named oyamise ôyako in 1857, a position he held for six years, he was granted the title Takazato chikudun peechin, and was elevated to such a rank that he could now for the first time wear a yellow hachimaki court cap. That same year, he served for four months as zakensha.

The following year, his father died on 1858/5/12, and Ien inherited his positions as head of the Bai family, and jitô of Henoko in Kushi magiri, along with the title of Takasato peechin. Ien was later named jitô of Fukuji in Kyan magiri, with the title of Fukuji peechin. That year, he began a 22-month term as ukaiya mui under Shimazu Tatewaki,[1] and was elevated to the rank of setô zashiki (Junior Sixth Rank). He continued to serve as ukaiya mui after that, for a term of 33 months under zaiban bugyô Ichiki Jijûrô, beginning in 1859, and then in 1862 was named satôza ôyako (deputy head of the Sugar Guild), a position he would hold for 13 months. In 1863, at the age of 51, he was elevated to full zashiki (Junior Fourth) rank, and served as Naha yokome for six months. The following year, he began a three-year position as Yamato yokome, while simultaneously serving a 21-month term as fuda aratame Naha-chô nushitori.

His second daughter, Magami, died on 1867/9/17. The following year, he worked for six months as sashihiki kakari of the four districts of Naha, overseeing the collection of metal objects to be given up to Satsuma. In 1869, he served as Naha kasô subete yokome for a time, and in 1873, he was named jitô of Fukuji village in Kyan magiri, along with the title of Fukuji peechin. While the Ryûkyû Kingdom was dismantled over the course of the 1870s, much of the local administrative structures, aristocratic titles, and so forth were permitted to remain in place, under the policy of kyûkan onzon; it is unclear how this might have affected, for example, the Bai family.

Bai Ien died in 1881, and was succeeded as head of the Bai family by his second son, Bai Izen.

Preceded by:
Bai Iki
Head of Bai family
Succeeded by:
Bai Izen


  • Naha shizoku no isshô 那覇士族の一生 (Naha: Naha City Museum of History, 2010).
  1. Unclear who this was, as "Shimazu Tatewaki" was not a specific name, but an honorific title given to accomplished samurai. Steven Carter, The Columbia Anthology of Japanese Essays: Zuihitsu from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century (Columbia University Press, 2014), 160n2.