Sho Gen

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Shô Gen was king of the Kingdom of Ryûkyû from 1556 until his death in 1572 or 1573. A mute, the king required considerable support from the Sanshikan (Council of Three), the chief council of royal advisors. His reign marked the beginning of the Council's demonstration of significantly greater effectiveness and efficiency than previously.

Shô Gen received his official investiture from the Ming Court in 1562, and received emissaries from the Shimazu clan of the Japanese province of Satsuma in 1570 and 1572. The Shimazu wished to establish some control over the Ryukyus, making them either a tributary or a vassal state. The kingdom resisted the Shimazu overtures, and a small punitive mission launched by the Shimazu created a small skirmish on the island of Amami Ôshima in 1571. Records are unclear, but Shô Gen may have traveled to Amami himself at that time to participate directly in the resistance against the Shimazu; some suggest that wounds or illness incurred in Amami may have contributed to his death a year or two later.[1]

He was the second son of King Shô Sei, who he succeeded, and was succeeded in turn by his second son, Shô Ei.


  • Kerr, George (1958). Okinawa: The History of an Island People. Rutland, Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle Company.
  • Smits, Gregory (1999). "Visions of Ryukyu: Identity and Ideology in Early-Modern Thought and Politics." Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
  1. Records differ as to the year of Shô Gen's death; though some indicate he died on 1572/4/1, others list him as appointing ministers later that year and into the following year. A precise date for his successor taking the throne, sometime in 1573, is also unknown. Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 142-143.
Preceded by:
Shô Sei
King of Ryûkyû
Succeeded by:
Shô Ei