Hokuzan kanshu

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  • Japanese: 北山監守 (Hokuzan kanshu)

Hokuzan kanshu, often translated as "warden of the North," was a position held by royal princes or officials assigned by the Ryûkyû Kingdom to oversee Nakijin castle and the northern portion of Okinawa Island. Though generally described as a position of political and military (strategic) importance, helping to hold the north, effecting Shuri's rule there and defending against invasion or rebellion, Gregory Smits has suggested that one of the chief purposes of the Hokuzan kanshu position was to facilitate the maintenance of particular rites performed by the Aoriyae priestesses at the Kanahyan utaki at Nakijin.[1]

Shô Chû, the second son of King Shô Hashi, was the first to be named "warden of the North"; according to traditional histories, Hashi gave the castle to his son in 1422 after toppling the last king of Hokuzan (the kingdom based at Nakijin). Shô Chû later (in 1440) went on to succeed his father as king of Ryûkyû, relocating to Shuri castle at that time.[2]

Shô Shôi, the third son of King Shô Shin, was later assigned "Warden of the North," sometime around 1488 to 1505. The position continued to be held by his descendants for seven generations, until 1665, when the head of that family relocated to Shuri.[3]

Partial list of historical Wardens of the North


  1. Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 97.
  2. "Shô Chû." Okinawa konpakuto jiten (沖縄コンパクト事典, "Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia"). Ryûkyû Shimpô. 1 March 2003. Accessed 3 December 2009.
  3. "Shô Shôi." Okinawa konpakuto jiten 沖縄コンパクト事典. Ryûkyû Shimpô. 1 March 2003.