The following discussion is taken from the Final Report Documentary Archival Research, Field Verification And Inventory Survey At Camp Foster (Allen and Nees, 1998) and the Documentary Archival Research, Field Verification And Inventory Survey Camps Courtney, Schwab, Hansen, and Portions of the Central Training Area (Haun and Henry, 1997)
Two main schemes are used by archaeologists to describe Okinawan prehistoric and historical periods, although the individual periods are subdivided differently by various researchers. Both schemes begin with the Paleolithic Period for the period up to ca. 10,000 B.P., and both refer to the Gusuku Period for the centuries between A.D. 1200 and A.D. 1609. The problem period is the one from ca. 10,000 B.P. to A.D. 1200, a long period described as the Shellmound Period in the Okinawan system, with subdivisions. The Shellmound Period subsumes several important periods in the mainland Japanese system; even the Late subdivision of the Shellmound Period includes several main periods, both prehistoric and historical. In all, the periods covered by the Shellmound Period include most of the Jomon, and the Yayoi, Kofun, Asuka, Nara, and Heian Periods, each characterized by significant cultural change in mainland Japan. Because the Japanese system is more familiar to most English language readers, researchers including Takamiya (1997) tend to use it more extensively than the Okinawa system.
The Paleolithic Period in Okinawa probably began ca. 32,O00 B.P., much more recently than in the more northerly islands of Japan, and ended ca. 10,000 B.P. It coincided with the latest portion of the geological
Pleistocene Epoch, which began ca. 2,000,000 years ago and ended ca. 10,000 B.P., as the Holocene Epoch began. According to Bellwood (1985:16, citing research in both tropical and temperate areas), it is now known that at least 20 glacials and 20 interglacials have taken place within the past two million years. The glacials tended to last ca. 100,000 years each, while the interglacials were shorter, ca. 10,00030,000 years each.
During the glacials, which trapped great amounts of sea water in ice sheets over large areas of the planet, sea levels lowered dramatically, and the Asian continent was connected by shelves and bridges of dry land with offshore areas including Hokkaido and possibly Kyushu (Imamura 1996:34), and with Okinawa, Taiwan, the many islands of Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as other islands.
Recent studies have concluded that Okinawa was part of the Asian continent during much of the period between 200,000 and 10,000 B.P. (Takamiya 1997:57, summarizing research results published by Masaaki Kimura in Japanese). During glacials, humans and other continental animals could have crossed to Okinawa using a long, narrow land bridge that connected southeast China and Taiwan with the Ryukyus (Takamiya 1997:Figure 3.5, following Kimura). Suzuki and Hanihara (1982), who have compared human skeletal material recovered at the Minatogawa Fissure Site, a limestone quarry near the south end of the island, with skeletal materials from Japan and mainland Asia, believe that Okinawa's (and western Japan's) original human inhabitants migrated from South China and northern Indochina. Fossilized bones of extinct continental elephant, deer, and rat recovered from limestone on Okinawa indicate that these animals, too, originated in mainland Asia.
Prehistory in Okinawa began by 18,000 B.P. at the Minatogawa Fissure Site in Gushikami son (Figure 6); by 20,000 B.P. at the Gohezu Cave Site on Iejima, and probably by 32,000 B.P. at the Yamashita cho Cave Site in Naha (Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education 1997:19; Takamiya 1996:145). More than a dozen sets of human remains dating to the Pleistocene have been recovered at Okinawan sites; Takamiya (1997:28) points out that this situation contrasts with the situation in mainland Japan, where no early human remains have yet been found.
Only seven Paleolithic sites, however, are currently known on Okinawa (Takamiya 1997:573. The presumed artifacts found at these sites, which are generally attributed to hunters and gatherers, are of bone, unlike Paleolithic (old Stone Age) tools in most areas of the world; no unequivocal stone tools have yet been recovered. Takamiya (1996:145, 1997:30) points out that researchers disagree even concerning whether the diagnostic fork shaped deer long bones and sharpened antlers found at these sites were modified by humans or represent chewing marks produced by deer.
Although it is possible that other sites may have been submerged when the sea level rose at the beginning of the Holocene Epoch, Takamiya (1997:58) believes that the sea level rise following the final Pleistocene glaciation, which would have submerged 70% of the former Ryukyuan land bridge between 18,000 and 10,000 B.P., may have produced on Okinawa ecological conditions too difficult and subsistence resources too scarce to support foragers. No sites are yet known for the period between 18,000 and 7000 B.P., by which time agriculture had been established.
Okinawa's Shellmound Period spans from 10,000 B.P. to 1100 B.P. or later (A.D. 1200, following Pearson 1991:269). Takarniya (1997:64) indicates that 419 sites are currently assigned to the period on Okinawa Island. The period is subdivided into Initial, Early, Middle, and Late Periods. The Initial Shellmound Period began ca. 10,000 B.P., when ceramics appeared for the first time, and ended ca. 3500 B.P.; this period covers the Initial, Early, and Middle Jomon Periods in mainland Japan, as well as the first 1000 years of the Late Jomon Period. The Early Shellmound Period began ca. 3500 B.P. and ended ca. 2500/2400 B.P., around the end of the Final Jomon Period.
The Middle Shellmound Period began ca. 2400 B.P. and ended ca. 2100 B.P. (Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education 1994:8), coinciding with the Initial and Early Yayoi Periods in mainland Japan. The Late Shellmound Period began ca. 2100 B.P. and ended sometime between A.D. 900 and 1200, spanning the Middle and Late Yayoi Periods, all of the Kofun Period, and three early historical periods, the Asuka, Nara, and Heian Periods (Pearson 1991:267, 269).
The Shellmound Period began with the introduction of pottery, apparently from Kyushu. Later stylistic changes often but not always paralleled mainland Japanese ceramic developments. Yabuchi and Agaribaru wares, which are decorated with fingernail impressions (tsumegata mon), are thought to be derived from fingernail impressed wares found in Kyushu (Takamiya et al. 1991:292); these wares, dominated by deep bowls with pointed bases, were present in Okinawa by 6500 B.P. and possibly earlier, during the Initial Shellmound Period (Miyagi ca. 1990; Pearson 1996:105).
From 7000 to 5500 B.P., still in the Initial Shellmound Periods, Sobata pottery, dominated by deep bowls with rounded or pointed bases and surfaces that were scraped with shells and incised with various motifs (Pearson 1969:28), were present; the motifs may be related to Korean geometric wares (Miyagi ca. 1990). These wares and a cordmarked (Jokon mon) ware have also been interpreted as related to Kyushu types. Other artifacts present before 5500 B.P. include polished stone adzes, chipped adzes with edge grinding, whetstones, stone mortars, and concave stones; these have been interpreted as associated with the processing of plant and animal foods. Settlement, which had begun in coastal areas, shifted to the bases of cliffs and inland locations by ca. 5500 B.P. Wild boar were hunted extensively and effectively (e.g., Pearson 1996:101; Takamiya 1997:35).
Ca. 5500 to 4500 B.P., toward the close of the Initial Shellmound Period, three Okinawan ceramic types, Gushikawa, Kamino C, and Omonawazentei, appeared; although these may have been influenced by Kyushu pottery, they possess distinguishing Okinawan traits. They include, among other types, flat bottomed vessels incised with geometric motifs applied by half sections of bamboo. Nail impressions are also present. Settlement probably continued to emphasize inland and cliff base locations, although they are not well understood for this portion of the period.
Ceramic types remained regional between ca. 3500 and 3000/2500 B.P., when five types (in chronological order, Iha, Ogido, Oyama, Kayauchibanta, and Murokawa) were distributed within increasingly narrower segments of the Okinawa and Amami archipelagoes, centered on Okinawa. Ceramics from Kyushu and bone ornaments that may have originated in south China accompany these finds at Okinawan sites, indicating that the islands were not isolated from mainland areas. Hunting implements apparently became relatively rare by ca. 3500 B.P. (Miyagi ca. 1990; Pearson 1996:101). Site location emphasized the bases of cliffs and inland locations until 3000 B.P. (e.g., Takamiya 1997:).
Contacts with mainland Japan increased ca. 3000 to 2100 B.P., during the Early and Middle Shellmound Periods. Kurokawa pottery reached Okinawa from Kyushu, as exchange rapidly expanded between that island and Okinawa.
Some evidence suggests increased interest in prestige items on Okinawa, too, by the end of the Early Shellmound Period. A distinctive type of ornament has been recovered from sites, including one at Camp Foster, that date to the period between 3000 and 2500 B.P. (possibly as early as 3500 B.P. at Camp Foster): a pendant in a butterfly or dragon shape, made of dugong (Dugong dugon, a tropical, herbivorous marine mammal) bone (Pearson 1996:96; see illustration, Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education 1997:43).
From ca. 3000 to 2400 B.P., as the Middle Shellmound Period began, settlement increasingly emphasized inland plains. Grinding stones and stone axes or adzes increasingly dominated the tool assemblage, suggesting that plant foods, especially nuts, were exploited. Uehara Nuribaru, a site in Ginowan shi, may represent dryland cultivation by 2400 B.P.; the artifact assemblage includes stone tools that are probably reaping knives, pottery, and scrapers. The site includes a series of depressions and ridges, a probable well, and a probable ditch (Pearson 1996:96).
After 2400 B.P., stone tools tended to be replaced by shell tools on Okinawa, and common net sinkers reflect a returned emphasis on marine fishing. From 2400 to 1900 B.P., during the Middle Shellmound Period and the first 2000 years of the Late Shellmound Period, settlement returned to the coast. This period coincides with the Initial to Middle Yayoi Periods in mainland Japan, when trade with Okinawa grew rapidly, especially in gohoura shells, which the Kyushu nobility needed for prestige items (bracelets). It is not clear whether the return to the coastline in Okinawa is connected with the development of trade or not.
Takamiya (1997:102) points out that the large numbers of bones identified as boar bones from Middle to Late Shellmound (Yayoi Period) sites might possibly represent domesticated pig, but seems to conclude that these large numbers more likely represent hunting activities (e.g., Takamiya 1997:234) with an emphasis on large animals. Many mollusks collected for food during this period are also large, suggesting intensification of food collection (Takamiya 1997:234).
Takamiya's (1997) flotation and analysis of plant remains collected from the Takachikuchibaru shellmound in Yomitan son (site not located in reference map [Takamiya 1997:Figure 2.3]) confirmed expectations that Castanopsis sieboldii, a member of the family Fagaceae that grows in non limestone areas on Okinawa, was an important food plant during prehistoric times. Castanopsis and other nuts were the most common plant foods consumed ca. 1700 B.P. at this site. No evidence for cultigens was recovered (Takamiya 1997: 135, 152).
From ca. 1900 B.P. throughout the remainder of the Late Shellmound Period, ending ca. A.D. 900, settlement again moved inland, and often involved higher elevations, anticipating the hilltop settlement trends of the ensuing Gusuku Period. Late Shellmound Period ceramics show general relationships to mainland Japanese ceramics in the presence of plain wares and gray Sue stonewares, but Okinawan cultural traits remain distinct from those of mainland Japan. According to Pearson (1996:96), sites remained relatively small, exhibiting no evidence for state development, concentrated wealth of the type seen in Kofun Japan, or craft specialization until the tenth or eleventh century A.D. Contacts with China were sporadic, although contacts with Japan continued on a regular basis.
Takamiya's (1997:164, 173) analysis of plant remains collected at the Nazakibaru site in Nahashi has resulted in the recovery of the earliest charred cultigens on Okinawa, establishing the presence at that site of rice (Oryza saliva var. japonica), barley (Hordeum vulgare), wheat (Triticum aestivium), and foxtail millet (Setaria italica) by the eighth to tenth centuries A.D. (ca. 1200 to 1000 B.P.). Additionally, in a marked change from botanical remains identified at an earlier site, no nuts were identified; the site's occupants were apparently eating the cereals. Although it remains possible that the cultigens were obtained through exchange, Takamiya found that other plant remains reflect an open, disturbed, environment near the site like that of fields, not forests. It appears likely that agriculture is also represented by ditch lines and hoed areas at the site.
One important question continues to be whether the changes in settlement pattern that have been summarized here reflect the changing needs through time of hunting and gathering, fishing, agriculture, trade, or all four.
Another important issue concerns the roles China, Taiwan, and especially Japan may have played in the development of traits including agriculture on Okinawa. Rice is believed to have been cultivated in China by 7000 B.P., in Taiwan by 3500 B.P., and in mainland Japan by 2500 B.P. at the latest (Imamura 1996:127; Pearson 1996:96). It seems clear, based in part on ceramic evidence, that the Initial Shellmound Period (10,000 to 3500 B.P.) inhabitants of Okinawa adopted certain Japanese traits. Although evidence is increasing for the inception of agriculture on Honshu, mainland Japan, as early as 5500 to 4500 B.P., during the Middle Jomon Period (Imamura 1996:101). However, most of Okinawa's contacts seem to have been with Kyushu. Little evidence suggests that agriculture was introduced to Okinawa from Japan during this early period.
As settlement patterns fluctuated through time, so did relationships with mainland Japan and other Asian areas. Ca. 4500 to 3000 B.P., during the late Initial and Early Shellmound Periods (the Late Jomon Period), a narrowing of exchange contacts suggests increasing self sufficiency on Okinawa. These periods, as indicated above, also saw the rise of regional, Ryukyuan ceramic styles. Although the ceramic evidence suggests that contacts expanded between 3000 and 2400 B.P., most or all contacts were with the other Ryukyuan island groups, not with mainland Japan. If the evidence discussed earlier regarding the Uehara Nuribaru site in Ginowan shi in fact represents agriculture by 2400 B.P., cultivation would seem to have begun on Okinawa following a long period of decreased contact with Japan.
The following centuries, during the Middle and Late Shellmound Periods (ca. 2400 B.P. to A.D. 1200), witnessed greatly intensified exchange with Japan, as Yayoi leaders in Kyushu eagerly sought a type of marine shell (gahoura, a large Strombus sp.; Goliath conch [Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education 1997:44]), which was available only in the Ryukyus, to make into prestigious bracelets. Gohoura shells were exported by Okinawa in increasing numbers to Yayoi Japan from ca. 2400 B.P. on. In return, Okinawa seems likely to have received items such as metal, ceramics, and possibly rice, and to have adopted Japanese customs including the use of rekkan, rock walled coffins (Takamiya 1997:31).
The Gusuku Period began sometime between A.D. 900 and 1200; witnessed the beginning of the Sanzan Era, the era of tile three states, in the early fourteenth century and the formation of the Ryukyuan Kingdom in 1429; and continued until 1609, when Okinawa was conquered by the Shimazu clan from the Satsuma Peninsula on Kyushu. This is the period of state development on Okinawa, when local leaders throughout the island competed for control. It is represented archaeologically by a new settlement pattern (fortified hilltop settlements supported by agriculture) and also by evidence for extensive foreign trade. Regular exchanges with China introduced important new technologies and concepts.
Gusuku are typically walled castles or forts, built on limestone or limestone sandstone ridges (Pearson 1996:102). Other sites assigned to the period include villagers' settlements, which were generally agricultural, were located on the low land around the gusuku, and were not fortified. Takamiya (1997:64) indicates that 337 Gusuku Period sites are currently known on Okinawa Island.
Gusuku incorporated walls, gates, rock paved areas, stairways, and wells or springs. Large gusuku incorporated storage areas, many rectangular, and residences with hearths and roof tiles (Pearson 1991:266). Shell midden is present at gusuku including Chatan Gusuku, in the current project area. Evidence for residential use at other gusuku includes children's game pieces and go and other gaming pieces, and beads, hairpins, rings, cosmetic jars, and mirrors. Blacksmiths' shops maintained tools including iron adzes and knives, and slag heaps have been found (Pearson 1991:266).
These sites probably began as the residences of aji, local lords (Pearson 1991:263), although, as reviewed by Haun and Henry (1997:8; also, Summers 1994:76), some researchers believe they were sacred places or forts before they developed into permanent residences. Many gusuku are considered sacred today and are associated, as is the case at Chatan Gusuku, with more recent prayer sites.
Although fortified sites on hilltops first appeared during the Gusuku Period, the trend toward settlement at higher elevations, as noted earlier, seems to have begun by 1900 B.P., during the Late Shellmound Period (e.g., Takamiya 1997:36). Pearson (1997:121) mentions that some unfortified Late ShellmoundPeriod (100 B.C. to A.D. 1200) sites occupy defensive locations, and that certain fortified gusuku overlie ShellmoundPeriod layers. As examples, Haun and Henry (1997:8, citing research by Takamiya) summarize information concerning two GusukuPeriod fortified sites, Gushikawa (Figure 6) and Gushichan (not located in reference map), each of which incorporates two cultural layers: the Gusuku Period layer and an earlier deposit containing ceramics dating to the Shellmound Period. Both hilltops were therefore in use prior to the Gusuku Period.
Clear evidence for agriculture has been documented for Gusuku Period sites including the Morikawabaru site (not located in reference map), a fourteenth to fifteenth century site in Ginowan shi. Although the site is not a castle, it is located approximately 30 meters above sea level (m asl) and was apparently occupied by elites; it is said to be the birthplace of Satto, who ruled Chuzan and later unified Okinawa. Satto is credited with obtaining iron farming implements from Jpan and distributing them to the fanners of Chuzan (Takamiya 1997: 180; see following section, concerning the Kingdom Period).
The site has produced large numbers of imported items including Chinese ceramics, and is known to have incorporated a house and storage structures, each on piles or stilts. A feature that may be sacred, and which contained imported ceramics, iron artifacts, and other items, has also produced 9,200 charred seeds and fragments representing the following cultigens, in order of abundance: foxtail millet, wheat, mugi rui (either wheat or barley), barley, rice, broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum), and legumes (Fabaceae); as well as non cultigens from several families (Takamiya 1997:184, 195).
Takamiya (1997:199) makes the point that rice was apparently not important at the site. At other Gusuku Period sites including Chatan Gusuku, as well, wheat and barley dominate the plant inventories, with foxtail millet third in importance. These plants apparently grew more successfully on Okinawa than did rice, probably because they are able to survive in spite of three environmental problems that plague Okinawa: infertile soils, typhoons, and droughts (Takamiya 1997:199).
Okinawa's foreign exchange networks expanded greatly during the Gusuku Period. Chinese porcelains are among the most common artifacts at these sites. Chinese and Southeast Asian celadons are also common, and Korean koryo celadons are known, as are grayish roof tiles probably manufactured in Korea (Pearson 1991:266). Song told Ming Dynasty Chinese coins have been recovered in large numbers at Shuri and Katsuren Castles (Figure 6).
Pearson (1991, 1997) summarizes the main changes that characterize sites assigned to the Early (A.D. 1200 to1350), Middle (A.D. 1350 to1450), Late (A.D. 1450 to1550), and Final (A.D. 1550 to1609) Gusuku Periods. Site size typically increased through time, from 100 to700 m2 at the beginning of the period, to two classes, 1000 m2 , and 2000 to 5000 m2 during the Early Period; to 10,000 to 20,000 m2 during the Middle Period; and to 40,000 m2 during the Late Period. Final Period sites belong to two classes: very large sites (e.g., Shuri Castle, 43,000 m2) and very small gusuku. Use of cut stone also increased through time, and internal enclosures became more numerous.
The earliest gusuku may be Urasoe Castle, which is associated with the earliest recorded dynasty, founded by Shunten (ca. 1166 to1237). Part of the available information regarding Shunten is legendary. An earlier dynasty, Tenson, is not recorded historically but is revered in myths of origin, which are mentioned in the following section, concerning religion and ritual.
The Shunten Dynasty lasted three reigns, 70 years (Okinawa Prefectural Government 1992a:4). Shunten's son, Shumbajunki, built the first gusuku at Shuri and introduced writing, the Japanese Lana (syllabary). Foreigners who may have included Japanese refugees settled in Okinawa during the Early Gusuku Period, apparently causing little disruption.
The second dynasty of the Early Period began with Eiso (probably ca. 1260 to 1299), who introduced taxation. During the Eiso Dynasty rule of Tamagusuku (ca. 1296 to1336), who neglected the affairs of state, the aji began to compete for power, leading to three separate centers in the north, the center, and the south of the island by ca. A.D. 1326 (Haun and Henry 1997:8; Pearson 1991:270; Summers 1994:76).
The Middle Gusuku Period is the Sanzan Era, the Three Kingdoms Era, when three states just mentioned contended for power and for China's recognition. The northern state was Hokuzan, which was centered at Nakijin and corresponded approximately to today's Kunigami region. The central state was Chuzan, based at Shuri and corresponding to today's Nakagami region. The southern state was Nanzan, based at Ozato and corresponding to today's Shimajiri region (Okinawa Prefectural Government 1992a:5). In these states, the ruler's councilors were confederates, not vassals. Power was in their hands (Pearson 1991:270). Pearson (1996:97) makes the point that, throughout this period, no elaborate burial structures or palaces have been documented on Okinawa, a pattern that suggests continuing emphasis on the communal group and communal living, without the vertical classes that developed in China.
Satto (1320 to1395), the first ruler of Chuzan during the Sanzan Era, may have been the first to distribute agricultural tools made from iron purchased from Japan to the farmers of the area (Pearson 1991:270). A Chinese community became established in the Naha area in 1393, and Chinese writing, calendrics, and administrative features began to appear. Satto expanded trade with Jawa, Sumatera, Siam, and Melaka in Southeast Asia; formalized relations with Japan and Korea; and established official tributary relations with China. Certain Shinto practices now arrived from Japan, and a Korean community may have been established in Naha. Korean roofing tiles appeared at gusuku.
In 1372 or 1374, Satto's brother, Sho Taiki, headed a mission to China, taking primarily transshipped Southeast goods, with great success. Okinawa received preferential trade rights (e.g., Pearson 1991:273; Summers 1994:77) and was able to maintain trade with China even during the Ming years (1368 to1567) when most Chinese trade with Asian nations ceased. Okinawa served during those years as a transshipment center, facilitating trade with China for areas including Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia, and continued to send trade missions to China until 1874.
The three states also sent trade missions to Korea, and Chuzan established formal relations with the Ashikaga shogunate in Kyoto in 1403. Official records began to be maintained as the royal annals (Rekidai Hoan) in 1403; written in Chinese, they record Ryukyuan contacts with China and Korea from 1424 to 1867, and with eight Southeast Asian states and city states (Melaka, Palembang, Jawa, Sumatera beyond Palembang, SundaKerapa, Patani, and Annam) during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Haun and Henry 1997:8; Summers 1994:7778).
Haun and Henry (1997:9), Pearson (1997:131), and the Okinawa Prefectural Government (1992a:9) provide the following list of goods that were traded from or through the Ryukyus. Horses were a valued Okinawan export; other Okinawan exports sent to China included sulfur, safflower dye, native silk floss padding, linen, banana fiber, ramie, fans, white paper, and whetstones. Items transshipped from Southeast Asia to China, Japan, and/or Korea included sappanwood, pepper, cloves, incense woods and incense, sandalwood, aloeswood, ivory, rhinoceros hoary, sea otter skins, and tin. Japanese exports shipped to China included short and long swords, spears, armor, gloves, shoulder and leg covers, helmets, horse armor and helmets, saddles, bridles, shields, lacquerware, fans, gold and silver vessels, gold, and copper. Chinese glazed porcelains and other ceramics, brocades, medicinal herbs, and coins were sent to Japan. Other items listed in the Rekidai Hoan included tigers, leopards, parrots, pigeons, mynahs, deer and bear skins, Buddhist texts, Chinese ink slabs, brushes, razors, silks, cotton, mats, drums, bells, bowls of all sizes (probably the Chinese glazed ceramics mentioned above), and wines.
The Middle Gusuku Period (1350 to1450) overlaps the beginning of the era the Chinese refer to as the Kingdom Period, which began in A.D. 1429. The Late and Final Gusuku Periods fall within the Kingdom Period, which is introduced in the following section.
This period was named by the Chinese (Pearson 1996:107). It coincides primarily with the Late Gusuku Period and began in 1429, during the First Sho Dynasty, when Sho Hashi defeated Hokuzan, Nanzan, and Chuzan to become the first ruler over all of Okinawa. Sho Hashi established Shuri Castle as the capital and expanded it; Shuri also became one of three sites of national worship. The rulers of the First Sho Dynasty, which lasted 64 years and seven reigns (Miyagi ca. 1990:2), from 1406 to 1470, organized religion, built extensive road networks, and deepened Naha's port. The rulers and rivals such as Gosamaru built large gusuku including Gosamaru's Nakagusuku and Zakimi Castles. Gosamaru died in 1458; his tomb is said to be the first kamekobaka on Okinawa (Summers 1994:78).
The Second Sho Dynasty began in 1470 and lasted 409 years and 19 reigns (Miyagi ca. 1990), ending in 1879. During this long period, many changes took place. The Ryukyuan state structure was consolidated; the aji became bureaucrats, no longer the ruler's equals, and were forced to move to Shuri; Zen Buddhism became more important in Okinawa; trade with Southeast Asia increased; beautification projects were completed at Shuri Castle; the arts were encouraged; relations with China grew stronger; private ownership or use of arms was outlawed; and, in 1509, Sho Shin, the third ruler of the dynasty, who accomplished many of the reforms just mentioned (Okinawa Prefectural Government 1992a:6), also imposed a ranking structure on the elites, with specific symbolic Chinese clothing styles and Japanese hair dressing (Pearson 1991:271; Summers 1994:79).
In 1572, Okinawan students began to study in Japan, and interests in Japan began to compete with interests in China. Circa 1511, Europeans began to monopolize trade at Southeast Asian ports including Melaka, and, by 1609, Okinawa's Southeast Asian trade and the transshipment role the island had played in the Southeast Asia and China trade had ended. Trade with China continued, and trade with the lords of the Satsuma Peninsula on Kyushu increased.
In 1609, the Shimazu clan of Satsuma invaded Okinawa, looted Shuri Castle, and took the Okinawan ruler, Sho Nei, to Kyushu and Edo (now Tokyo); he was later allowed to return to Okinawa as the nominal ruler, under certain restrictions imposed by Satsuma. Okinawa became semi independent but was allowed to continue its tributary, educational, and cultural relations with China through the Second Sho Dynasty (Haun and Henry 1997:9; Summers 1994:80). Foreign influences continued both in trade and in domestic life. Sweet potato (Ipomcea batatas) and sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) were introduced to Okinawa during the Second Sho Dynasty. The British first entered Naha's port in 1614, and Koreans began a local potting industry in 1617 (Pearson 1991; Summers 1994:80).
In 1682, the Tsuboya kilns were created in Naha through the consolidation of three earlier potteries, Chibana, Takaraguchi, and Wakuta (Miyagi ca. 1990). The royal government now administered pottery production, and the Tsuboya kilns became the center of Okinawa's ceramic industry.
The Meiji restoration in Japan in 1868 had profound effects on Okinawa. As summarized by the Okinawa Prefectural Government (1992a:10), the Meiji Government implemented measures known as the Ryukyu Shobun (Disposal of the Ryukyu), which forcibly integrated the Ryukyus into modernized Japan. In 1874, China and Japan signed a treaty by which China gave up all rights to the Ryukyus; this was the year of Okinawa's final mission to China. In 1879, the Okinawan ruler, Sho Tai, abdicated and moved to Tokyo, and Okinawa Prefecture was established (Haun and Henry 1997:9; Summers 1994:80).
As Pearson (1996:107) summarizes, the Chuzan Kingdom was a successful city state for almost two centuries, from 1429 to 1609, with a formal center at Shuri, economic self sufficiency, political autonomy, and self government even while nominally tributary to China. The Okinawan city state continued to trade successfully with China even after the Shimazu conquest; Kyushu wanted access to Chinese goods, so, once again, Okinawa filled an important entrepreneurial and transshipment role (Haun and Henry 1997:9; Miyagi ca. 1990).
Okinawa Prefectural Period
Okinawa's relations with China ended once Japan's government conquered Satsuma and then imposed Japanese rule over Okinawa in 1879. Under the Meiji regime, Japan's former feudal territories became prefectures, with Okinawa the southernmost of these. The Ryukyuan Kingdom was abolished; Sho Tai abdicated, as indicated above; and Sho Ten, the last crown prince of the Second Sho Dynasty, never ruled.
Following Okinawa's establishment as a prefecture, cultural ties between Japan and Okinawa intensified, and, as Haun and Henry (1997:10) summarize, Okinawa's political and social structures were brought into conformity with those of the reorganized Japan. Between 1899 and 1903, land reforms took place, changing ownership from communal to private. Taxes were eventually greatly reduced from the heavy burden that had characterized the Kingdom Period (Okinawa Prefectural Government 1992a: 11). Schools began to follow Japanese models, and the Japanese became the official language spoken in schools and elsewhere.
In 1921, Okinawa was recognized fully by the Japanese Diet. Nonetheless, much of Okinawa's commerce and industry was controlled from Kyushu, and Okinawans had little control over the prefecture's political and economic activities (Okinawa Prefectural Government 1992a:11). In the 1930s, attempts were made to preserve Okinawan language, culture, and dress (Summers 1994:82).
World War II, especially the U.S. attack on April 1, 1944, and the threemonth Battle of Okinawa (April to June, 1945), devastated much of the island, in particular the southern, more densely populated section. Approximately 150,000 people were killed; priceless Okinawan traditional sites and important governmental records were destroyed; and any plans for an Okinawan renaissance were set back for years.
In 1951, the San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed by Japan and the U.S.; it allowed the U.S. to control the Ryukyus completely, so that mainland Japan could regain its sovereignty. Government during the American occupation was tripartite, involving three bodies: the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands, which was established in 1950; the Government of the Ryukyu Islands, which was created by the U.S. in 1952 to administer courts and public services; and the American High Commissioner, who had ultimate power over locally elected Okinawan representatives and could overrule Government of the Ryukyu Islands legislation and judicial decisions (Okinawa Prefectural Government 1992a: 12).
Construction of large U.S. military installations during the American occupation changed the direction of Okinawa's social and economic development, often in negative ways. But the U.S. administration also provided economic aid, greatly improved infrastructural elements such as public roads and buildings, founded what is today the Okinawa Prefectural Museum in Shuri, established the University of the Ryukyus, and funded many Okinawan students' studies in the U.S. (Okinawa Prefectural Government 1992a: 13).
During the 1960s, the Okinawan people increasingly requested their island's reversion to Japan. On May 15, 1972, the U.S. agreed to this reversion (Haun and Henry 1997:10; Okinawa Prefectural Government 1992a:12; Summers 1994:82).