King of Ryūkyū
Reign 1187 – 1237
Successor Shunbajunki
Born 1166
Urasoe, Okinawa
Died 1237
Burial Urasoe yōdore

Shunten (舜天, 1166-1237), also known as Shunten-Ō (舜天王, lit. "King Shunten"), was a king of the Ryūkyū Islands. Shunten is the earliest king in Okinawa for whom a name is known. He is said to have taken power after defeating a usurper to the throne by the name of Riyū who had overthrown the 25th king of the Tenson Dynasty.[1][2][3][4]

Early life and reign

Urasoe yōdore, mausoleum of Shunten and other Ryūkyūan kings

The Chūzan Seikan (1650), the first official history of the Ryūkyūan Kingdom, and Chūzan Seifu (1701) state that Shunten was the son of Minamoto no Tametomo (1139 1170). Tametomo was exiled to a penal colony on Izu Ōshima following his defeat in the Hōgen Rebellion of 1156. According to this theory, Tametomo then became lost at sea some time later, arrived on Okinawa, and settled down with the younger sister of the anji, or local ruler, of Ōzato. Ōzato is located at the south of Okinawa Island in the present-day city of Nanjō. Shunten, according to the two histories, was the son of Tametomo and the sister of the Ōzato anji.[1][5]

Shunten was known as Sonton (尊敦) prior to becoming king. He became the became anji of Urasoe in 1180 at the age of 15 after gathering a base of popular support in the area. In 1187, he overthrew Riyū and established his royal seat of power at Urasoe castle, marking the beginning of a new dynasty of rulers. Shunten's reign was long; by legend he is said to have ruled for 51 years.[1][4]

Death and burial

Shunten died in 1237 at the age of 71 and was succeeded by his son Shunbajunki (1237 1248). He is buried at Urasoe yōdore, and enshrined at Naminoue Shrine along with three other Ryukyuan kings.[5][6]

Shunten's dynasty ended in the third generation when his grandson Gihon abdicated, went into exile, and was succeeded by Eiso, who began a new royal lineage.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Shunten." Okinawa rekishi jinmei jiten (沖縄歴史人名事典, "Encyclopedia of People in Okinawan History"). Naha: Okinawa Bunka-sha, 2002. p38.
  2. Kerr, George. (2000). Okinawa: The History of an Island People, p. 52 , p. 52, at Google Books; although the paramount leaders of Okinawa beginning with Shunten (c. 1166 – c. 1237) are commonly identified as "kings," Kerr observes that "it is misleading to attribute full-fledged 'kingship' to an Okinawan chief in these early centuries... distinctly individual leadership exercised through force of personality or preeminent skill in arms or political shrewdness was only slowly replaced by formal institutions of government laws and ceremonies supported and strengthened by a developing respect for the royal office."
  3. Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2002). Japan Encyclopedia, p. 172., p. 172, at Google Books
  4. 1 2 "舜天王" [Shunten]. Dijitaru Daijisen (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
  5. 1 2 "舜天" [Shunten]. Nihon Kokugo Daijiten (in Japanese). Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2013. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved 2013-07-10.
  6. Kerr, p. 452., p. 452, at Google Books


Preceded by
King of Ryūkyū Islands
Succeeded by
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 10/29/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.