Haniji, sometimes spelled Haneji, was the founder of the kingdom of Hokuzan, one of three kingdoms which existed for a time on the island of Okinawa. He first appears in the documentary record in 1383, and is said to have ruled Hokuzan from roughly 1322 to 1395, a suspiciously (but not impossibly) long period.
In the early 14th century, there was no centralized political authority on Okinawa, just a loose confederation of local chieftains, of which Haniji was one, under a nominal head chieftain. The hereditary chief of Nakijin, Haniji gathered the chieftains of the north of the island into alliance with him and formed the polity of Hokuzan (Northern Mountain) after Tamagusuku became head chieftain of the island. Tamagusuku lacked the political ability, charisma, or leadership skills to command the loyalty of the chiefs, and so a number sided with Haniji, while a number of the chiefs of the southern portion of the island sided with Ofusato, chief of Ozato and formed the polity of Nanzan (Southern Mountain), leaving Tamagusuku with the central portion of the island, and the polity known as Chûzan (Middle Mountain).
Very little is known of the details of Haniji's life, or his rule. A lineage of officials in the royal bureaucracy by the name Haneji (羽地) would come to be descended from him; the most famous of these being Shô Shôken (1617-1675), also known as Haneji Chôshû.
|Reign as King of Hokuzan
- Kerr, George H. (2000). Okinawa: the History of an Island People. (revised ed.) Boston: Tuttle Publishing.
- Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 83.