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Gima Shinjo

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Gima Shinjô's tomb in Shuri
  • Birth: 1557
  • Death: 1644
  • Other Names: 麻平衡 (Ma Heikou)
  • Japanese: 儀間真常 (Gima Shinjou)

Gima Shinjô was a Ryukyuan scholar-official known for introducing into Okinawa a number of important agricultural and textile products and techniques.

He was originally from Mawashi magiri. After Noguni Sôkan introduced the Satsuma sweet potato (Satsuma imo) into Ryûkyû, Gima played a prominent role in spreading the techniques of sweet potato cultivation throughout the kingdom.

Following the 1609 invasion of Ryûkyû, Gima was one of the scholar-officials captured and brought to Kagoshima as a prisoner of war. Upon his return to Ryûkyû in 1611, he brought cotton seeds, and weaving techniques, marking the beginning of the development of Okinawan kasuri textile arts.

In 1623, he sent a number of students from his own Gima village to China, to study sugar production techniques. After trying the techniques himself, he worked to disseminate the knowledge throughout the kingdom; sugar soon became one of Ryûkyû's chief products.

His tomb can be found today in the Sakiyama neighborhood of Shuri, the former royal capital of the kingdom.

References

  • "Gima Shinjô," Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia 沖縄コンパクト事典, Ryukyu Shimpo, 1 March 2003.
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