Sho Ho

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  • Titles: 琉球国王 (Ryûkyû-kokuô, King of Ryûkyû)(1621-1640), 佐敷王子 (Sashiki ouji; Prince Sashiki)
  • Other Names: 朝昌 (Choushou)
  • Japanese/Chinese: (Shou Hou / Shàng fēng)

Shô Hô was king of the Ryûkyû Kingdom from 1621 to 1640, succeeding Shô Nei, during whose reign forces from Satsuma han invaded Ryûkyû. The "dual tribute" system, in which the kingdom was subordinate to both China and Satsuma (Japan), a situation into which Shô Nei was unwillingly forced, became more formalized under Shô Hô.

As a young man, Shô Hô, then known as Prince Sashiki Chôshô, was captured by Satsuma forces during the invasion, on 1609/4/3[1], and then spent a number of years as a political hostage in Kagoshima, beginning in 1614. His son, Shô Kyô, was named Crown Prince in 1616, but as he was only nine years old at the time of Shô Nei's death in 1620 - and particularly as Ryûkyû's domestic and foreign affairs were still unsettled in the aftermath of the 1609 invasion - many officials, including Sanshikan member Yuntanzan Seishô, feared the instability that having such a young king might cause.[2] Prince Sashiki Chôshô thus took the throne himself in 1621, taking the name King Shô Hô. He later studied Confucian classics, kanbun, and the like under Tomari Jochiku, alongside Shô Shôken, who would later go on to be a top-ranking and particularly influential court official & royal advisor.

As king, Shô Hô had to work to effect the restoration of the system of Chinese investiture envoys, which was severed due to the invasions. Beijing required that not only the king but a majority of his court nobles be in support of an investiture mission being dispatched. Initially, a large faction at court opposed this move as continued trade with China would be just what Satsuma wanted to exploit Ryûkyû for; Shô Hô was successful, however, in the end, in negotiating with that faction and securing the reestablishment of tribute/investiture relations, which was a concession to Satsuma, but which also served to maintain the prestige of Ryûkyû and its monarchy, and to avoid raising the ire of Satsuma once again, which could have had disastrous results for the kingdom's sovereignty. After requesting investiture from Beijing in 1621, 1625, 1626, and 1627, Shô Hô finally received investiture in 1633.[2] This was to be the last investiture mission sent by the Ming Dynasty.

His eldest son, Shô Kyô, died before being able to succeed his father. Shô Hô's second son, Shô Bun (also known as Prince Sashiki Chôeki), led an embassy to Kagoshima and Kyoto in 1634, but since he was considered sickly or weak, Shô Hô was succeeded instead by his third son, who took the throne as King Shô Ken in 1640.


  • Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 36.
  1. Miyakonojô to Ryûkyû ôkoku 都城と琉球王国, Miyakonojô Shimazu Residence (2012), 24.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tomiyama Kazuyuki, Ryûkyû ôkoku no gaikô to ôken, Yoshikawa kôbunkan (2004), 67-68.
Preceded by:
Shô Nei
Reign as King of Ryûkyû
Succeeded by:
Shô Ken