Nakasone Toyomiya

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  • Born: c. 1457-1464
  • Died: c. 1530
  • Japanese/Okinawan: 仲宗根 豊見親玄雅 (Nakasone Toyomiya Genga / Nakasone Tuyumya Genga)

Nakasone Toyomiya Genga, or Nakasone Tuyumya Genga in the Okinawan pronunciation, was a Ryukyuan local chief of the Miyako Islands credited with repelling an invasion from Ishigaki Island, and expanding Miyako political control over some of the Yaeyama Islands. Traditional accounts paint Nakasone as a local hero, relating that when the Miyako Islands were attacked by the Kingdom of Ryûkyû, Nakasone saved the people of Miyako from harm - and secured greater political position for himself - by agreeing to surrender to annexation by the Kingdom.

Though typically represented in local legends as an indigenous hero of the Miyako Islands, Nakasone and many of his prominent rivals may have been wakô leaders who made their way into the Ryukyus from Japan or elsewhere following the fall of the Southern Court at the end of the 14th century.[1] Despite some confusing complexities of names and dates, Gregory Smits suggests that the overall pattern of conflict at this time suggests that Miyako and/or Yaeyama were growing in power around the 1490s-1500s and that King Shô Shin of Shuri took action to consolidate his power over that region; this served to calm the chaotic situation of numerous local power-holders independently engaging in trade, piracy, etc., thus regaining the trust of the Ming court, as well as strengthening his own rule domestically.[2]


Nakasone was the great-great-grandson of Meguro Mori who, in the 14th century, defeated the Yonahabaru army under Sata Ubunto to unite the Miyako Islands for the first time.

Toyomiya (or, Tuyumya in Okinawan) was not a name, but rather something akin to a title or honorific. While he passed on the family name Nakasone to his descendants, this lineage, of which he is the founder, is at the same time called the Chûdô family (忠導氏). While the exact year of Nakasone's birth is unknown, the family's records indicate that he was born sometime in the Tianshun Chinese Imperial era, i.e. 1457-1464.

At this time, the Ryûkyû Kingdom, based at Shuri on Okinawa Island, did not yet have direct control over the Yaeyama or Miyako Islands, but merely expected tribute to be paid. When, in 1500, Oyake Akahachi of Ishigaki Island led the people of Ishigaki and the surrounding islands in revolt against paying tribute and against the Kingdom, Nakasone aided the Kingdom's forces in suppressing the rebellion, securing his status as leader of Miyako, and seizing Ishigaki, Yonaguni (where he took the daughter of the chieftain Untura[3] as his prize), and a few other neighboring islands in the process.

Shortly after these successful invasions which expanded the geographical scope of Miyako's political control, the islands came under attack from a force of roughly 3000 men sent by King Shô Shin of the Ryûkyû Kingdom. Seeing defeat as inevitable, Nakasone surrendered and agreed to have the Miyako Islands, along with the Yaeyamas which Nakasone had just secured, absorbed by the Kingdom. He is today worshipped and celebrated as a hero for having spared the people of Miyako from the death and destruction that would have resulted from attempts to resist the invasion.

Nakasone was formally appointed Chieftain of Miyako by the Shuri government, which also began a system of sending representatives from Okinawa to help oversee the administration of this corner of the kingdom for three-year-long terms. Most aspects of local administration were left in the hands of Nakasone, however, who was also empowered to deal out rewards and punishments, and to appoint local leaders to lesser aristocratic titles and bureaucratic posts. In thanks for Shuri's recognition of his position, Nakasone gifted the sword Jiganemaru to Shô Shin.

Nakasone established a government office called the kuramoto[4] (蔵元) which oversaw the collection of contributions to the tribute payment to be sent to Shuri. To help ensure this process, Nakasone effected road maintenance, as well as the construction of the stone bridge Shimoji-Pasuntsu (下地橋道, J: Shimojibashi-dô).

Nakasone was succeeded as Chieftain of Miyako around 1530, by someone bearing the same name as his great-great-grandfather, Meguro Mori. His grave can be found in Hirara City on Miyako Island, alongside the graves of his third son Chirimara Toyomiya, and their second wives (J: keishitsu, Miyako: atonma).[5]

He was succeeded as chief of Miyako by his son Kanamori, who is described in official Ryûkyû Kingdom histories as having "'violated the law and destroyed the basis' for his ruling Miyako." By the time Shuri's agents arrived in Miyako to chastise Kanamori, however, he had already passed away. Shuri's agents then seized much of his wealth, as well as his two daughters; a later attempt to return the daughters safely to Miyako went awry, resulting in their deaths. One of Nakasone's younger sons, Makarigane, meanwhile, set himself up as a local lord in the Yaeyama Islands, but was also deemed by Shuri to be cruel and oppressive, and was forcibly removed from authority and sent back to Miyako.[6]


  • Kerr, George. Okinawa: the History of an Island People. (revised ed.) Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2000. pp118, 121-122.
  • "Nakasone Toyomiya." (Originally from Takara, Kurayoshi. "Nakasone Toyomiya." Asahi Nippon Rekishi Jinbutsu Jiten, Asahi Shimbun Publishers.) Accessed 11 July 2009.
  • "Nakasone Tuyumya." Okinawa konpakuto jiten (沖縄コンパクト事典, "Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia"). Ryukyu Shimpo (琉球新報). 1 March 2003. Accessed 11 July 2009.
  • "Nakasone Tuyumiya Genga." Okinawa rekishi jinmei jiten (沖縄歴史人名事典, "Encyclopedia of People of Okinawan History"). Naha: Okinawa Bunka-sha, 1996. p54.
  1. Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 58.
  2. Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, 171.
  3. 鬼虎. J: Onitora; Ryukyuan: Unitura, Untura.
  4. This is the Japanese pronunciation of the word, which may not correspond to the native Miyako pronunciation, but would be a closely related cognate.
  5. Andreas Quast, "The three Toyomiya tombs on Miyako Island," Ryukyu-Bugei, 27 Feb 2015.
  6. Gregory Smits, Maritime Ryukyu, University of Hawaii Press (2019), 170.