- 公益財団法人 史学会
- 史学雑誌 (ISSN:00182478)
- vol.121, no.11, pp.1839-1874, 2012
The island of Tanegashima, which is located south of the Osumi Pennisula of southern Kyushu is best known as the portal for the initial entry of firearms into Japan and the first manufacturer of Japanese-made firearms and has in the research to date been studied almost exclusively in that light, including studies of the Island's feudal lords, the Tanegashima Clan. Although there is some very specialized research on the Tanegashima Clan as locally based land proprietors (kokujin 国人) who went through a process of subjugation to the Shimazu Clan, the characteristic features of the Tanegashimas have yet to be sufficiently explored. The Tanegashimas, who occupied a territory between the ruling feudal lords of Satsuma Province, the Shimazu Clan, and the kingdom of the Ryukyu Islands, should be considered as having a unique character in the light of such geographical circumstances. The present article is an attempt to place the Tanegashima Clan within the context of the southern Kyushu maritime world as it existed during the late medieval period. By virtue of their military alliance with the Shimazu Clan which resulted in their consequent control of the islands to the south of Kyushu, the Tanegashimas were given the opportunity to engage with merchant ships and Chinese junks and participate in trade with the Ryukyu Kingdom. Consequently, the Tanegashimas were able to obtain foreign manufactures; and following their conversion during the latter half of the 15th century to the Nichiren Sect of Buddhism, came to enjoy personal contact and exchange with figures in the capital region, and in the process of fostering ties of mutual friendship, the leading aristocrats and samurai commanders residing in Kyoto found a new source of foreign goods. It should be specially noted that those who came to the islands from the capital region were enthusiastically recruited as vassals by the Tanegashima Clan. This "Kyoto connection" was invaluable in negotiating and securing Shimazu Takahisa's appointment to the prestigious post of Shuri Daibu (Minister of Public Works) in 1551. In the background to the Tanegashima Clan's intimate "Kyoto connection" and its knowledge and technical know-how regarding arms production lay its close relations to the Shimazu Clan, but such relations were by no mean exclusionary, as the Tanegashimas actively sought contact with other feudal lords. Regarding the Ryukyu Kingdom, it was during the reign of its second king, Shoshin (1477-1526), that the monarch assumed an attitude of superiority over the surrounding islands, but continued to trade with the Tanegashimas, despite their "inferiority". In the background of Tanegashima Tadatoki's trade relations with the Ryukyus probably lay the desire to obtain from that kingdom goods that the Hosokawa Clan was importing to the Ming Dynasty, as evidenced by the alliance formed with Hosokawa Takatoki, who was an important figure in the promotion of Sino-Japanese trade relations. The author is also of the opinion that the socalled attempt by Ouchi Yoshitaka to blockade Tanegashima's ships should rather be interpreted as an attempt to intercept the ships being sent to China by Hosokawa Harumoto. From the standpoint of the family as a force in maritime foreign trade due to its geographical location, the Tanegashima Clan should be considered in the light of its multilateral diplomatic ties to the other powerful players in Japan's southern maritime region.