This week, we’ll begin a two-part series on the relationship between Japan and what is now her southernmost province: Okinawa. We’ll cover the founding of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus, its relationship with Japan, and finally its incorporation into the burgeoning Japanese Empire.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, Vol 2 and Vol 3.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

A map showing the location of the Ryukyu Islands relative to China and Japan.

A map showing the location of the Ryukyu Islands relative to China and Japan.

Okinawa divided into the three kingdoms which once ruled it. Chuzan (in the middle) would eventually come to dominate the other two under the leadership of King Sho Hashi.

Okinawa divided into the three kingdoms which once ruled it. Chuzan (in the middle) would eventually come to dominate the other two under the leadership of King Sho Hashi.

The flag of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

The flag of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Shuri Castle in Naha, capitol of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus (as well as modern Okinawa Prefecture).

Shuri Castle in Naha, capitol of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus (as well as modern Okinawa Prefecture).

King Sho Shin, Grandson of Sho Hashi and third king of the Ryukyus.

King Sho Shin, Grandson of Sho Hashi and third king of the Ryukyus.

King Sho Tai, the final King of the Ryukyus. In 1879 he was brought to Tokyo and made a Marquis in Japan's new peerage system (based on that of Great Britain).

King Sho Tai, the final King of the Ryukyus. In 1879 he was brought to Tokyo and made a Marquis in Japan’s new peerage system (based on that of Great Britain).