Sai Ken (1585-1647)

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  • Birth: 1585/1/2
  • Death: 1647/6/28
  • Titles: 喜友名 親方 (Kiyuna ueekata)
  • Japanese: (Sai Ken)

Sai Ken was a Ryukyuan scholar-official known for his participation in numerous tribute missions to Beijing.

The next year after the 1609 invasion of Ryûkyû by forces from Satsuma han, Sai Ken traveled to Beijing, continuing the pattern of tributary missions. During that journey, he visited Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius, and brought back to Ryûkyû sacred images of Confucius and the Four Correlates (Mencius, Yanzi, Zengzi, and Zisi); these were then used by the Kumemura community in annual Confucian ceremonies.

In 1612, the Ming Court restricted Ryûkyû to engaging in official trade (i.e. coming to give tribute) only once every ten years. Sai Ken played a role in convincing the Ming to restore this to once in five years in 1622, and then to the traditional once every two years, in 1633.


  • "Sai Ken," Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia, Ryukyu Shimpo, 1 March 2003.