Ryukyu Royal Sho Family Documents

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  • Japanese: 琉球国王尚家関係資料 (Ryûkyû kokuô Shô ke kankei shiryô)

The Ryûkyû kokuô Shô ke kankei shiryô are a collection of historical documents; bingata, kasuri, and other Ryukyuan textile garments; works of Ryukyuan lacquerware; Ryukyuan pottery; and metalwork; along with three swords (incl. Chiyoganemaru) and the sole surviving Ryukyu investiture crown, held at the Naha City Museum of History and considered collectively to be a National Treasure of Japan.

These 1,166 documents and 85 art treasures related to the Ryukyuan royal family were established collectively as a National Treasure in 2006. In 2019, Shô Mamoru, 23rd head of the Shô house, officially donated an additional 38 documents (for a total of 1,207 documents) that had been held at the home of Matsumoto Hiroshi, son-in-law to Shô Hiroshi, 22nd head of the former royal lineage.

Shôke monjo

These 1,166 documents, along with another 175 not designated National Treasures, are known as the "Shô Family Documents," or Shôke monjo 尚家文書. Following the fall of the kingdom in 1879, the Shô family was forced to leave Shuri castle; while King (now Marquis) Shô Tai and certain other members of the former-royal household took up residence in a mansion in Tokyo, other members of the family remained behind at Nakagusuku udun, formerly the Crown Prince's mansion, just below Shuri castle. Some portion of these documents were then sent to Tokyo so they could be consulted by scholar Higashionna Kanjun as he compiled his Shô Tai kô jitsuroku 尚泰侯実録 ("True Record of Lord Shô Tai"); while those kept at Nakagusuku udun were tragically lost in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, those sent to Tokyo (along with new documents created or obtained in the intervening years) survived the 1923 earthquake, World War II, and other events.[1]

In 1995, Shô Hiroshi, 22nd head of the Shô family, donated these surviving 1,341 documents to the city of Naha.[1] They are all now held at the Naha City Museum of History.[2]


  • "41 Sho royal family documents are to become national treasures," Ryukyu Shimpo, 21 March 2019.
  1. 1.0 1.1 Katsuren Shôko 勝連晶子, "Ryûkyû ôkoku Shôke no monjo fukusei kara mietekuru mono" 琉球王国尚家の文書複製からみえてくるもの, Fee nu kaji 南ぬ風 48 (2018/7-9), 6-7.
  2. Reproductions of most of the documents (both printed and microfilm) are kept at the University of the Ryukyus Library. While the Hôsei University Okinawa Studies Center also holds microfilm copies of these documents, the University of the Ryukyus set is more thoroughly labeled as to which materials can be found on which rolls of film.