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For the samurai clan, see Sakai clan.
  • Japanese: 堺 (Sakai)

Sakai is a port town near Osaka which, in the 15th-17th centuries was a major center of merchant activity, including especially maritime trade and the manufacture and trade in firearms; it was also a center of arts and culture, tea ceremony in particular. The merchant leaders of Sakai managed to maintain a considerable degree of independence from samurai control throughout much of the Sengoku period.

Arguments between merchants in Sakai and Hakata over trading rights led in the early or mid-15th century to Ryukyuan trade being directed only through Hakata and Bônotsu for a time.[1]

From 1469 until 1510, Sakai was the chief departure port for tribute missions to Ming Dynasty China.

The city was governed by a board of thirty-six merchant councilors called egôshû, and was walled off and surrounded with moats, not unlike some of the free cities of Europe.[2]

Though it enjoyed considerable freedom and prosperity for a time, the city fell to Oda Nobunaga in 1568.[2] It remained a prominent port city, however, both culturally and economically, and at its Edo period peak, was home to roughly 50,000 people.[3]


  • Morgan Pitelka. "Art, Agency, and Networks in the Career of Tokugawa Ieyasu." in A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011, 451.
  1. Yokoyama Manabu 横山学, Ryûkyû koku shisetsu torai no kenkyû 琉球国使節渡来の研究, Tokyo: Yoshikawa kôbunkan (1987), 36.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Eiko Ikegami, Bonds of Civility, Cambridge University Press (2005), 122.
  3. Bezaisen to santo 「弁才船と三都」、Asahi hyakka Nihon rekishi 62, p7-46.

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