Tanegashima Tokitaka

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Tanegashima Tokitada was the head of the Tanegashima clan, lords of Tanegashima Island, who received the first Europeans to ever arrive in Japan, in 1543. Tokitaka is known for his role in effecting the production of the first European-style firearms in Japan.

Tokitada was the son of Tanegashima Satotoki. When a Chinese junk with two or three Portuguese on board came to Tanegashima in 1543 after being blown off-course in a storm, Tokitaka met with the strangers, and secured arrangements for his swordsmith, Yasuita Kinbei Kiyosada (d. 1570), to be instructed in the production of arquebuses. In exchange, Tokitaka gave his daughter to one of the Portuguese as a consort; reportedly, he expected that she would be with the foreigner only temporarily, but instead he took her as his wife. Kiyosada began working to reproduce the weapons, but had difficulties reproducing the spring mechanism, and also in sealing the barrel sufficiently to contain the force of the gunpowder explosion.

A Portuguese ship (by some accounts carrying Tokitaka's daughter and her Portuguese husband) came to Tanegashima the following year, however, and a gunsmith on board was able to more properly instruct Kiyosada how to resolve these problems. Kiyosada, along with a merchant from Sakai named Tachibana Iemonzaburô[1], thus became the first two sources of "domestically" Japan-produced arquebuses.

Tokitaka also assisted Shimazu Takahisa, as his father had done, in Takahisa's efforts to subdue Ôsumi province. One of his daughters eventually became Shimazu Yoshihisa’s second wife.


  • Initial text from Sengoku Biographical Dictionary (Samurai-Archives.com) FWSeal & CEWest, 2005
  • Gary Leupp, Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900, A&C Black (2003), 2.
  1. Rendered in some texts as Teppô-mata.