Era of Rival Chiefs

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  • Dates: c. 1450-1500
  • Japanese: 群雄争乱時代 (gun'yuu souran jidai)

The Era of Rival Chiefs refers to a period from roughly 1450 to 1500 during which a number of factions and individuals vied for power in the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands. The period ended in 1500 with the government of the Ryûkyû Kingdom (based on Okinawa Island, to the north) extending more direct control over the Miyakos and Yaeyamas than it had in the past, suppressing rebellions and appointing its own officials (often from among the local elites) to administer the islands.

Perhaps the most famous of the so-called "rival chiefs" who battled at this time was Oyake Akahachi, who rose to power on Ishigaki Island and then, while extending his power into neighboring islands and even setting his sights on the Miyakos, simultaneously declared "rebellion" against the kingdom, by refusing to pay taxes or tribute. This famously ended in King Shô Shin sending a force of some 3,000 warriors to put an end to Akahachi's rebellion.[1]

However, Akahachi only achieved such a position of power at the end of a series of other conflicts, in which he defeated figures such as Naata Ufushu, Taira Kubo, and Nakama Mitsukeima Eigyoku. And, his conflict with the Shuri court (i.e. the Okinawa-based Kingdom) was not solely fought against forces from Okinawa; local elites such as Nakasone Toyomiya also opposed Akahachi, and in fact, Nakasone, the chief leader on Miyako Island, used the conflict with Akahachi to seize Yonaguni Island and several other neighboring islands, and to seize power on Ishigaki itself, being named "chief" of the Miyako Islands by the Shuri government in the aftermath of the conflict.[2]


  • Gregory Smits, "Rethinking Ryukyu," International Journal of Okinawan Studies 6:1 (2015), 5.
  • George Kerr, Okinawa: the History of an Island People. (revised ed.) Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2000. pp118, 121-122.
  1. "Oyake Akahachi." Okinawa rekishi jinmei jiten (沖縄歴史人名事典, "Encyclopedia of People of Okinawan History"). Naha: Okinawa Bunka-sha, 1996. p18.; Shinzato Keiji et al. Okinawa-ken no rekishi (History of Okinawa Prefecture). Tokyo: Yamakawa Publishing, 1996. p57.
  2. "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.
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