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Niigaki

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  • Japanese: 新垣 or 新嘉喜 (Niigaki or Aragaki)

Niigaki (given name unknown) was a Ryukyuan aristocrat who later became a samurai in the service of Satsuma han. He is thus an important example of a very rare number of cases of Ryukyuans being permitted/able to come to be regarded as (fully) Japanese.

Niigaki studied paper-making with his father while temporarily resident in Fujian; following his return to Ryûkyû, Lord of Satsuma Shimazu Shigehide heard of Niigaki's reputation as a papermaker, and enlisted his services to produce Chinese-style paper for the domain. Niigaki was thus named go-nando shihai okobito (御納戸支配御小人), or "okobito in charge of the storehouse," and an official notice was sent from the domain government to the Ryûkyû-kan in 1787 notifying them that he was now a samurai in service to the domain, that his name should be moved from the Ryukyuan family registries to a new Satsuma one, and that he and his descendants would be permitted to wear Japanese clothing.

References

  • Robert Sakai, “The Ryukyu (Liu-ch’iu) Islands as a Fief of Satsuma,” in John K. Fairbank, The Chinese World Order, Harvard University Press (1968), 127, 313n44.
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