The Ryukyu Kingdom was an independent kingdom that ruled most of the Ryukyu Islands from the 15th to the 19th century. The kings of Ryukyu unified Okinawa Island and extended the kingdom to the Amami Islands in modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture, the Sakishima Islands near Taiwan. Despite its small size, the kingdom played a central role in the maritime trade networks of medieval East and Southeast Asia the Malacca Sultanate. In the 14th century, small domains scattered on Okinawa Island were unified into three principalities: Hokuzan, Chūzan, Nanzan; this was known as the Three Kingdoms, or Sanzan period. Hokuzan, which constituted much of the northern half of the island, was the largest in terms of land area and military strength but was economically the weakest of the three. Nanzan constituted the southern portion of the island. Chūzan was economically the strongest, its political capital at Shuri, Nanzan was adjacent to the major port of Naha, Kume-mura, the center of traditional Chinese education.
These sites and Chūzan as a whole would continue to form the center of the Ryukyu Kingdom until its abolition. Many Chinese people moved to Ryukyu to serve the government or to engage in business during this period. At the request of the Ryukyuan King, the Ming Chinese sent thirty-six Chinese families from Fujian to manage oceanic dealings in the kingdom in 1392, during the Hongwu emperor's reign. Many Ryukyuan officials were descended from these Chinese immigrants, being born in China or having Chinese grandfathers, they assisted the Ryukyuans in advancing diplomatic relations. On 30 January 1406, the Yongle Emperor expressed horror when the Ryukyuans castrated some of their own children to become eunuchs to serve in the Ming imperial palace. Emperor Yongle said that the boys who were castrated were innocent and did not deserve castration, he returned them to Ryukyu, instructed the kingdom not to send eunuchs again. According to statements by Qing imperial official Li Hongzhang in a meeting with Ulysses S. Grant, China had a special relationship with the island and the Ryukyu had paid tribute to China for hundreds of years, the Chinese reserved certain trade rights for them in an amicable and beneficial relationship.
These three principalities battled, Chūzan emerged victorious. The Chūzan leaders were recognized by Ming dynasty China as the rightful kings over those of Nanzan and Hokuzan, thus lending great legitimacy to their claims; the ruler of Chūzan passed his throne to King Hashi. Hashi received the surname "Shō" 尚 from the Ming emperor in 1421, becoming known as Shō Hashi 尚巴志. Shō Hashi adopted the Chinese hierarchical court system, built Shuri Castle and the town as his capital, constructed Naha harbor; when in 1469 King Shō Toku, a grandson of Shō Hashi, died without a male heir, a palatine servant declared he was Toku's adopted son and gained Chinese investiture. This pretender, Shō En, began the Second Shō Dynasty. Ryukyu's golden age occurred during the reign of Shō Shin, the second king of that dynasty, who reigned from 1478 to 1526; the kingdom extended its authority over the southernmost islands in the Ryukyu archipelago by the end of the 15th century, by 1571 the Amami Ōshima Islands, to the north near Kyūshū, were incorporated into the kingdom as well.
While the kingdom's political system was adopted and the authority of Shuri recognized, in the Amami Ōshima Islands, the kingdom's authority over the Sakishima Islands to the south remained for centuries at the level of a tributary-suzerain relationship. For nearly two hundred years, the Ryukyu Kingdom would thrive as a key player in maritime trade with Southeast and East Asia. Central to the kingdom's maritime activities was the continuation of the tributary relationship with Ming dynasty China, begun by Chūzan in 1372, enjoyed by the three Okinawan kingdoms which followed it. China provided ships for Ryukyu's maritime trade activities, allowed a limited number of Ryukyuans to study at the Imperial Academy in Beijing, formally recognized the authority of the King of Chūzan, allowing the kingdom to trade formally at Ming ports. Ryukyuan ships provided by China, traded at ports throughout the region, which included, among others, China, Đại Việt, Java, Luzon, Pattani, Palembang and Sumatra.
Japanese products—silver, fans, folding screens—and Chinese products—medicinal herbs, minted coins, glazed ceramics, textiles—were traded within the kingdom for Southeast Asian sappanwood, rhino horn, sugar, ambergris, Indian ivory, Arabian frankincense. Altogether, 150 voyages between the kingdom and Southeast Asia on Ryukyuan ships were recorded in the Rekidai Hōan, an official record of diplomatic documents compiled by the kingdom, as having taken place between 1424 and the 1630s, with 61 of them bound for Siam, 10 for Malacca, 10 for Pattani, 8 for Java, among others; the Chinese policy of haijin, limiting trade with China to tributary states and those with formal authorization, along with the accompanying preferential treatment of the Ming Court towards Ryukyu, allowed the kingdom to flourish and prosper for 150 years. In the late 16th century, the kingdom's commercial prosperity fell into decline; the rise of the wokou ("Japanese
Mamoru Shō is the current head of the Shō family, the former Ryūkyūan royal family. He is the great-great-grandson of Shō Tai, the last king of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, is the king's most senior direct descendant. Unlike other heads of the Shō family since the abolition of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, he resides in both Tokyo and Naha. Mamoru Shō was born in Tokyo on August 18, 1950, the eldest son of Hiroshi Shō, he became the Shō Family Head upon the death of his father on August 30, 1996. Unlike his most recent ancestors, he spends time in both Naha, he has a son and two daughters, with the oldest son named Takeshi, the heir apparent to the Shō family
The Ming dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China – known as the Great Ming Empire – for 276 years following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese. Although the primary capital of Beijing fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng, regimes loyal to the Ming throne – collectively called the Southern Ming – survived until 1683; the Hongwu Emperor attempted to create a society of self-sufficient rural communities ordered in a rigid, immobile system that would guarantee and support a permanent class of soldiers for his dynasty: the empire's standing army exceeded one million troops and the navy's dockyards in Nanjing were the largest in the world. He took great care breaking the power of the court eunuchs and unrelated magnates, enfeoffing his many sons throughout China and attempting to guide these princes through the Huang-Ming Zuxun, a set of published dynastic instructions; this failed when his teenage successor, the Jianwen Emperor, attempted to curtail his uncles' power, prompting the Jingnan Campaign, an uprising that placed the Prince of Yan upon the throne as the Yongle Emperor in 1402.
The Yongle Emperor established Yan as a secondary capital and renamed it Beijing, constructed the Forbidden City, restored the Grand Canal and the primacy of the imperial examinations in official appointments. He rewarded his eunuch supporters and employed them as a counterweight against the Confucian scholar-bureaucrats. One, Zheng He, led seven enormous voyages of exploration into the Indian Ocean as far as Arabia and the eastern coasts of Africa; the rise of new emperors and new factions diminished such extravagances. The imperial navy was allowed to fall into disrepair while forced labor constructed the Liaodong palisade and connected and fortified the Great Wall of China into its modern form. Wide-ranging censuses of the entire empire were conducted decennially, but the desire to avoid labor and taxes and the difficulty of storing and reviewing the enormous archives at Nanjing hampered accurate figures. Estimates for the late-Ming population vary from 160 to 200 million, but necessary revenues were squeezed out of smaller and smaller numbers of farmers as more disappeared from the official records or "donated" their lands to tax-exempt eunuchs or temples.
Haijin laws intended to protect the coasts from "Japanese" pirates instead turned many into smugglers and pirates themselves. By the 16th century, the expansion of European trade – albeit restricted to islands near Guangzhou like Macau – spread the Columbian Exchange of crops and animals into China, introducing chili peppers to Sichuan cuisine and productive corn and potatoes, which diminished famines and spurred population growth; the growth of Portuguese and Dutch trade created new demand for Chinese products and produced a massive influx of Japanese and American silver. This abundance of specie remonetized the Ming economy, whose paper money had suffered repeated hyperinflation and was no longer trusted. While traditional Confucians opposed such a prominent role for commerce and the newly rich it created, the heterodoxy introduced by Wang Yangming permitted a more accommodating attitude. Zhang Juzheng's successful reforms proved devastating when a slowdown in agriculture produced by the Little Ice Age joined changes in Japanese and Spanish policy that cut off the supply of silver now necessary for farmers to be able to pay their taxes.
Combined with crop failure and epidemic, the dynasty collapsed before the rebel leader Li Zicheng, defeated by the Manchu-led Eight Banner armies who founded the Qing dynasty. The Mongol-led Yuan dynasty ruled before the establishment of the Ming dynasty. Explanations for the demise of the Yuan include institutionalized ethnic discrimination against Han Chinese that stirred resentment and rebellion, overtaxation of areas hard-hit by inflation, massive flooding of the Yellow River as a result of the abandonment of irrigation projects. Agriculture and the economy were in shambles, rebellion broke out among the hundreds of thousands of peasants called upon to work on repairing the dykes of the Yellow River. A number of Han Chinese groups revolted, including the Red Turbans in 1351; the Red Turbans were affiliated with a Buddhist secret society. Zhu Yuanzhang was a penniless peasant and Buddhist monk who joined the Red Turbans in 1352. In 1356, Zhu's rebel force captured the city of Nanjing, which he would establish as the capital of the Ming dynasty.
With the Yuan dynasty crumbling, competing rebel groups began fighting for control of the country and thus the right to establish a new dynasty. In 1363, Zhu Yuanzhang eliminated his archrival and leader of the rebel Han faction, Chen Youliang, in the Battle of Lake Poyang, arguably the largest naval battle in history. Known for its ambitious use of fire ships, Zhu's force of 200,000 Ming sailors were able to defeat a Han rebel force over triple their size, claimed to be 650,000-strong; the victory destroyed the last opposing rebel faction, leaving Zhu Yuanzhang in uncontested control of the bountiful Yangtze River Valley and cementing his power in the south. After the dynastic head of the Red Turbans suspiciously died in 1367 while a guest of Zhu, there was no one left, remotely capable of contesting his march to the throne, he made his imperial ambitions known by sending an army toward the Yuan capital Dadu in 1368; the las
Okinawa Island is the largest of the Okinawa Islands and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The island is 70 miles long and an average 7 miles wide, has an area of 1,206.98 square kilometers. It is 640 kilometres south of the rest of Japan and 500 km north of Taiwan; the Greater Naha area, home to the prefectural seat of Okinawa Prefecture on the southwestern part of Okinawa Island, has 800,000 of the island's 1.423 million residents, while the city itself is home to about 320,000. Okinawa has been a critical strategic location for the United States Armed Forces since the end of World War II; the island hosts around 26,000 US military personnel, about half of the total complement of the United States Forces Japan, spread among 32 bases and 48 training sites. US bases in Okinawa played critical roles in the Korean War, Vietnam War, War in Afghanistan, Iraq War; the presence of the US military in Okinawa has caused political controversy both on the island and elsewhere in Japan. Okinawa's population is among the longest living peoples in the world.
Residents have less cancer, heart disease and dementia than Americans, while Okinawan women live longer than anywhere else on Earth. Early Okinawan history is defined by midden or shell heap culture, is divided into Early and Late Shell Mound periods; the Early Shell Mound period was a hunter-gatherer society, with wave-like opening Jōmon pottery. In the latter part of this period, archaeological sites moved near the seashore, suggesting the engagement of people in fishing. In Okinawa, rice was not cultivated until the Middle Shell Mound period. Shell rings for arms made of shells obtained in the Sakishima Islands, namely Miyakojima and Yaeyama islands, were imported by Japan. In these islands, the presence of shell axes, 2500 years ago, suggests the influence of a southeastern-Pacific culture. After the Late Shell Mound period, agriculture started about the 12th century, with the center moving from the seashore to higher places; this period is called the Gusuku period. Gusuku is the term used for the distinctive Ryukyuan form of fortresses.
Many gusukus and related cultural remains in the Ryukyu Islands have been listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites under the title Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu. There are three perspectives regarding the nature of gusukus: 1) a holy place, 2) dwellings encircled by stones, 3) a castle of a leader of people. In this period, porcelain trade between Okinawa and other countries became busy, Okinawa became an important relay point in eastern-Asian trade. Ryukyuan kings, such as Shunten and Eiso, were important rulers. An attempted Mongolian invasion in 1291 during the Eiso Dynasty ended in failure. Hiragana was imported from Japan by Ganjin in 1265. Noro, village priestesses of the Ryukyuan religion, appeared; the Sanzan period began in 1314, when the kingdoms of Hokuzan and Nanzan declared independence from Chūzan. The three kingdoms competed with one another for trade with Ming China. King Satto, leading Chūzan, was successful, establishing relations with Korea and Southeast Asia as well as China.
The Hongwu Emperor sent 36 families from Fujian in 1392 at the request of the Ryukyuan King. Their job was to manage maritime dealings in the kingdom. Many Ryukyuan officials were descended from these Chinese immigrants, being born in China or having Chinese ancestors, they assisted the Ryukyuans in developing diplomatic relations. In 1407, however, a man named Hashi overthrew Satto's descendant, King Bunei, installed his own father, Shishō, as king of Chūzan. After his father died, Hashi became king, the Xuande Emperor of China gave him the surname "Shō". In 1429, King Shō Hashi completed the unification of the three kingdoms and founded the Ryūkyū Kingdom with its capital at Shuri Castle, his descendants would conquer the Amami Islands. In 1469, King Shō Taikyū died, so the royal government chose a man named Kanemaru as the new king, who chose the name Shō En and established the Second Shō Dynasty, his son, Shō Shin would conquer the Sakishima Islands and centralize the royal government, the military, the noro priestesses.
In 1609, the Japanese domain of Satsuma launched an invasion of the Ryukyu Kingdom capturing the king and his capital after a long struggle. Ryukyu was forced to become a vassal of Satsuma; the kingdom became both a tributary of Japan. Because China would not make a formal trade agreement unless a country was a tributary state, the kingdom was a convenient loophole for Japanese trade with China; when Japan closed off trade with European nations except the Dutch, Nagasaki and Kagoshima became the only Japanese trading ports offering connections with the outside world. A number of Europeans visited Ryukyu starting in the late 18th century; the most important visits to Okinawa were from Captain Basil Chamberlain in 1816 and Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1852. A Christian missionary, Bernard Jean Bettelheim, lived in the Gokoku-ji temple in Naha from 1846 to 1854. In 1879, Japan annexed the entire Ryukyu archipelago; the Meiji government established Okinawa Prefecture. The monarchy in Shuri was abolished and the deposed king Shō Tai was forced to relocate to Tokyo.
Hostility against Japan increased in the islands after the annexation in part because of the systematic attempt on the part of Japan to eliminate Ryukyuan culture, including the language and cultural practices. The island of Okinawa was the site of most of the ground warfare in
Shō Tai was the last king of the Ryukyu Kingdom and the head of the Ryukyu Domain. His reign saw increased interactions with travelers from abroad from Europe and the United States, as well as the eventual end of the kingdom and its annexation by Japan as Ryukyu Domain. In 1879, the deposed king was forced to relocate to Tokyo. In May 1885, in compensation, he was made a Kōshaku, the second tier of nobility within the Kazoku peerage system. Shō Tai reigned for nearly 31 years. Developments surrounding pressures from Western powers to open the kingdom up to trade, formal relations, the free coming and going and settlement of Westerners in the Ryukyu Islands dominated the first decade or two of his reign. While Westerners had been coming to the Ryukyu Islands for several decades before to Shō Tai's accession in 1848, were always greeted warmly and provided with supplies, it was not until the 1850s that formal policies allowed and encouraged trade and relations with Europeans and Americans. Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry made port at Naha several times, both before and after his famous landing at Uraga Harbor in 1853.
He did, meet with the royal regent and other high officials of the royal government yielding the Lew Chew Compact of 1854, along with other agreements, which could be said to parallel the Convention of Kanagawa signed that same year by representatives of the Tokugawa Shogunate, to represent the "opening" of Ryukyu to trade and relations with the United States. Trade and relations with other Western powers soon followed, backed by Shimazu Nariakira, lord of Satsuma, who saw in the process opportunities to gain wealth and power. Relations with France were strong. Nariakira died in 1858, he was succeeded by his half-brother Shimazu Hisamitsu, to whom Shō Tai was obliged to formally swear anew the oath of loyalty to the Shimazu clan that he and his ancestors had sworn since 1611. Hisamitsu reversed his half-brother's policies regarding Ryukyu's interactions with the West. In 1864, after Shō Tai had been on the throne for 16 years, the customary mission was sent to China to formally request investiture from the Chinese Imperial Court.
Chinese representatives journeyed to Ryukyu two years formally granting on behalf of the Tongzhi Emperor recognition of Shō Tai's authority as king. Following the 1868 Meiji Restoration, the abolition of the han system four years the relationship of the kingdom to the former Satsuma Domain and to the new Japanese central government at Tokyo was unclear and a subject of controversy between various factions in the central government. Shō Tai, his advisors or officials were never consulted for consent, or opinions. At the same time, in 1871, there occurred an incident in which a Ryukyuan ship wrecked on the Taiwanese coast and its crew was killed by the local natives. Kagoshima pressured asking for redress. To help resolve this problem and others concerning the relationship between Ryukyu and Japan, Shō Tai was advised to journey to Tokyo and formally pay his respects to Emperor Meiji, acknowledging at the same time his subordination to the Emperor of Japan. Shō Tai refused, sent Prince Ie, his uncle, Ginowan Ueekata, one of the kingdom's top ministers, in his place, claiming illness prevented him from making the journey himself.
At Tokyo, the envoys were presented, on behalf of their King, with a proclamation declaring the kingdom to now be "Ryukyu Han", that is, a feudal domain under the Japanese Emperor in the manner of those abolished the previous year in the Japan mainland. This new arrangement meant freedom from subordination to Satsuma, but it meant incorporation into Japan and subordination to the Imperial government in Tokyo. A pair of missions led by Matsuda Michiyuki, Chief Secretary of the Home Ministry, in 1875 and 1879 were aimed at reorganizing the administrative structure of Ryukyu. Shō Tai and several of his chief ministers were granted formal ranks in the Japanese Imperial Court, the King was ordered to appear in person in Tokyo. Prince Nakijin led a small group of officials to express the domain's gratitude in his place. However, the King’s intransigence in refusing to come to Tokyo, continued direct foreign relations with China was a matter of great concern to the new Meiji leadership, Home Minister Itō Hirobumi drew up plans in 1878 to end the domain's autonomous and semi-ambiguous status.
On 27 March 1879, Shō Tai formally abdicated upon the orders of Tokyo, which abolished Ryukyu han and created Okinawa Prefecture, with officials appointed from Tokyo to administer the islands. The former King was made to leave his palace, which he did on 30 March, to move to Tokyo, which he did after some delays owing to supposed illness and inability to travel, leaving Okinawa on 27 May, arriving in Yokohama on 08 June, whence he traveled with his entourage of 96 courtiers to Tokyo. After meeting with Emperor Meiji on 17 June 1879, Shō T
Shō En was a king of the Ryukyu Kingdom, the founder of the Second Shō Dynasty. Prior to becoming king, he was known as Kanamaru Uchima. Kanamaru was born into a family of peasant farmers on Izena Island, a tiny island which lies off the northwestern coast of Okinawa Island, it is said that his parents died when he was around twenty and undertook to provide for his aunt and uncle and sister, his wife, whom he married at a young age. In one year in which the island had suffered from a severe drought, the rice paddies of Kanamaru's family were found to be full of water. After several years living in Ginama, there too some type of dispute or disagreement between Kanamaru and his neighbors emerged. Leaving Ginama, he traveled to Shuri, the capital of the Ryukyu Kingdom, in 1441, became a servant or retainer to the prince, Shō Taikyū. After Shō Taikyū became king in 1454, Kanamaru was made royal treasurer, was in 1459 granted the post of Omonogusuku osasu no soba, a position involving responsibility for matters regarding foreign relations and trade.
He was granted territory, made Lord of Uchima. There emerged a difference of opinion between Kanamaru, Shō Toku, who succeeded Shō Taikyū as king in 1461 over the king's costly military efforts on the island of Kikai, leading Kanamaru to leave Shuri and retire to Uchima. Shō Toku died shortly afterwards, it is said that in the ensuing discussions among the elder bureaucrats to choose a successor, Kanamaru was selected by popular demand, thus came to the throne, taking the royal name Shō En. Historian George H. Kerr, points out that official histories produced in the following centuries were written with the patronage of Shō En's successors. Shō En thus established the Second Shō Dynasty, taking on the honorary surname granted the kings of Ryukyu by the Ming Dynasty of China, he banned members of the former Shō lineage from high government office, from marrying into the lineage of the new dynasty, took steps to elevate the prestige of his own family. His father came to be honored as King of Izena, a formal tomb was constructed for Shō En's parents on Izena Island.
Shō En named his sister high priestess, or "noro", of Izena. His reign marked the beginning of an institutional shift in the royal government, away from rule by a charismatic or otherwise gifted individual leader, i.e. the king, towards a more bureaucratic system, with the king at its center. Shō En's childhood wife is believed to have died, or otherwise separated from Kanamaru, before he rose to prominence at Shuri, he had his first son with Yosoidon. Shō En died in 1476, after ruling for only a few years, was succeeded by his brother Shō Sen'i, to Yosoidon's chagrin. Presently, the high priestess, daughter of the late king and Yosoidon, received a divine message indicating that Shō Sen'i should abdicate in favor of his nephew, son of Shō En, who took the throne as Shō Shin. List of monarchs of Ryukyu Islands Imperial Chinese missions to Ryukyu Kingdom Kerr, George H.. Okinawa, the History of an Island People. Rutland, Vermont: C. E. Tuttle Co. OCLC 39242121
Izena Island is located in the East China Sea, north-west of Okinawa Island, in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The island has a diameter of about 5 kilometres and is surrounded by coral reefs, blue sea, white beaches, it is administered as Izena Village. The five settlements of about equal size and population which are located on the island are Izena, Shomi and Jicchaku. Izena village was the birthplace of King Shō En, the first king of the Second Shō Dynasty of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. Shō Shishō, of the short lived Shō Dynasty, was from the Izena Island; the worshiping rites of Agari Umai and the ritual of welcoming of sea deities are observed in this island. Izena Island is the birthplace of the contemporary artist Naka Bokunen and musician Irei Shunichi; the island is associated with the pottery and archaeological ruins found here of the Okinawa's pre-historic Jōmon period. The island has historic sites such as Izena Tamaudun Mausoleum, Izena Castle, a historical fortress built around in the 14th century, a park which has bronze statue of King Shō En when he was known as Kanemeru.
Izena Island lies in the East China Sea, to the northwest of Okinawa Island, southeast of Iheya Island. Noho Island lies off of Iheya Island's southern tip. Gushikawa Island and Cape Agarizaki lies between Izena Island. Izena and Iheya are separated only by a narrow strait; the total area is 15.44 square kilometres, the peripheral sea coast line is 16 kilometres. The island's topography features a series of mountains spanning from the northwest to the southeast of the island, with flat, arable land covering the remainder; the island has several white sandy beaches. Coral reefs are natural breakwaters. Izena's rocky southern coastline has rock formations such as'Umi Gitara' and'Agi Gitara' rising from the land and sea; the island's settlement history goes back at least 3000 years. Archeological excavations have revealed many artifacts in the form of axes and knives made of stone and pottery and human bones; the earliest recorded history is of five lineages lasting over 692 years in the period 1187 to 1879.
The Second Shō Dynasty ruled between 1470 and 1879, with the first king, Shō En, born on this island. Artifacts related to the period of this dynasty are seen in the village of Izena. King Shō En not only applied for “recognition and investiture to enhance the prestige and authority of his family among his countrymen” but had built an elegant tomb on a small hill and consecrated the remains of his parents. Sho En showed great reverence to his father and to the predecessors belonging to the royalty of the First Shō Dynasty, whom he had replaced with the Shō Second Dynasty. After the Battle of Okinawa and subsequent to liberation day after World War II, two Americans were beheaded on Izena Island. USS Bush and USS Drexler were sunk by kamikaze aircraft to the northwest of the island on 6 April 1945 and 28 May 1945 respectively; the island’s main economic activity is centered around agricultural farming and commerce. In 2003, Izena village was declared a "Tourism Village". Naka Bokunen a well known woodblock artist of the village knowledgeable about its history and culture, has been assigned as a Tourism Ambassador and given the task of promoting tourism on the island.
To promote environmental concerns and tourism, a tax called the “Izena Village Environmental Cooperation Tax”, a levy of 100 yen for every entry to the island, was introduced in 2005. Mozuke, a type of sea weed, is a major export, it is harvested after a growth period of six months. The economy of the people is sustained by tokobushi, a type of abalone; the total annual income of the villagers is reported to be 3.47 billion yen, giving a per capita income of 1.78 million yen per person, about the same as for the Okinawa Island. Three most prominent monuments on the island are: Izena Tamaudun Mausoleum, the historical fortress of Izena Castle, a park which has a bronze statue of King Shō En. Izena Tamaudun Mausoleum was built in 1501, during the reign of King Shō Shin, near the Izena Castle. In 1958, Okinawa Prefecture designated this as a Historical Site; the royal mausoleum is of Shō Shishō, his wife, daughter. Izena Castle is a Ryūkyūan gusuku built around the 14th century by Samekawa, son of the Yogura Chief of Iheya Island.
It is built over a limestone outcrop about 100 metres above sea level on the south eastern side of the island. The fortress has three sides. There are several chambers in the castle which are separated by walls, built with piled-up pieces of coral limestone, 3 metres in height; the chambers have many sacred relics such as utaki and celadons, Sueki wares, other important objects, which are seen in other gusuku sites. There is a bronze statue of Kanemeru, Shō En's name before his reign, in the park which commemorates his birth in Izena; the tomb holds the remains of Kanemaru. There is an ancient temple to God Asagi in Seriyaku settlement of Izena village. Festivals of harvest of rice, wheat and Shinigu and other products are held here; the temple is on the s