Go to content

Anko Asato move to Tokyo

Karate and Culture
Asato Ankō's move to Tokyo


Translated by Motobu Naoki
On 27 May 1879, Shō Tai, accompanied by about 100 people, boarded the Tōkai Maru and sailed from Naha to Tokyo, as described in Higaonna Kanjun's "True Records of Marquis Shō Tai" (1924).
On this day (5/27), Shō Tai, accompanied by his second son, Prince Ginowan, left the Nakagusuku Palace at 8 a.m. on a kyōyo (palanquin). He was accompanied by about a hundred attendants and servants. They included Prince Aji of Oroku, Goeku, Gushichan, etc., Yonabaru Uēkata of a former sanshikan (three ministers of state), Sueyoshi Uēkata of a former minister, Kohatsu Uēkata and Adaniya Uēkata of the former bureaucrats, Oyasato Pēchin of the former Sasunosoba (foreign secretary), Asato Pēchin of a former ginmiyaku (undersecretary), etc. To mourn their farewell to Shō Tai, thousands of shizoku (warriors) and commoners arrived at Naha, marching together to protect the palanquin on which Shō Tai rode. After resting for a while at the former Satonushi Kōkan (Naha Town Hall), Shō Tai and others boarded the ship. He was accompanied by Emperor Meiji's attendant physician, Takashina Tsunenori. The ship sailed at noon (Note 1).
Tōkai Maru (Source: Ryukyu Shinpō)

The former ginmiyaku (undersecretary) in the quote, Asato Pēchin, refers to Asato Ankō. Thus, it turns out that Asato accompanied Shō Tai and left Naha on May 27, 1879, for Tokyo.

"True Records of Marquis Shō Tai" gives no mention of Asato afterwards, but I mentioned in the article "Kafu (Steward)" last week that he was working as a kafu (steward) at the Shō family's residence in Kojimachi, Tokyo, in 1880. About Asato during his stay in Tokyo, his student Fnakoshi Gichin Sensei wrote the following::
After the abolition of the feudal domain in 1879 (Meiji 12), [Asato Sensei] served as Minister of State to Marquis Shō Tai, the king of the late Ryukyu Kingdom. And he was devoted to the Shō family in Kojimachi for thirteen years. He was an outstanding man of loyalty (Note 2).
According to the above, Asato stayed in Tokyo for 13 years, so he must have returned to Okinawa around 1892.

Now, after writing the article "Kafu", I was asked if Asato returned to Okinawa frequently during his stay in Tokyo to teach karate, but I don't know because there is no record of this. Shō Tai returned to Okinawa only once, in 1884, for about 100 days, and it is possible that Asato accompanied him there. However, I have not seen any record of the names of the people who accompanied Shō Tai.

At the time, there was a strong movement of the stubborn party (gankotō) advocating for Okinawa's independence, and the Meiji government was alarmed by this. For this reason, Shō Tai also had to act cautiously to avoid any suspicion from the Meiji government.

Considering that Shō Tai was only able to return to Okinawa once, it is hard to imagine that Asato, who held a key position as a kafu, was able to travel back and forth between Okinawa and the mainland frequently without any official reason.

With the end of the Sino-Japanese War (1894 - 1895), the stubborn party lost its momentum and the Meiji government became less concerned about them, and traffic between Okinawa and the mainland must have become more active, but by that time Asato had already returned home.
Also, the list of people on board at that time is not extant. Therefore, a detailed record of Asato's travels may be revealed in the future as new historical documents are discovered.

Note 1: Higaonna Kanjun, "True Records of Marquis Shō Tai", 1924, p. 399.
Note 2: Funakoshi Gichin, "Anecdotes of my Master Asato Ankō Sensei," in magazine Ken, No. 8, Karate Club of Keio University's Physical Education Association, 1934.
Back to content