|Native name: 喜界島 (Kikai-jima)|
Location of Kikai Island
|Area||56.93 km2 (21.981 sq mi)|
|Coastline||48.6 km (30.2 mi)|
|Highest elevation||214 m (702 ft)|
Kikai Island (喜界島 Kikai-jima , Amami: キャー Kyaa) is an island in the Amami Islands, which are part of the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan. It lies about 25 km east of Amami Ōshima, 380 km south of Kagoshima mainland, and 330 km north of Okinawa. Administratively, the whole island belongs to Kikai Town, Kagoshima Prefecture.
Compared with Amami Ōshima and Tokunoshima, Kikai Island is a relatively flat island. It is made of limestone originating from raised coral reefs. It remains curious attraction for geologists since it is one of the fastest rising coral islands in the world.
Although the Ryukyu Islands appeared in written history as Japan's southern frontier, the name of Kikai was not recorded in early years. The Nihongi ryaku (c. 11th–12th centuries) states that in 998 Dazaifu, the administrative center of Kyūshū ordered Kika Island (貴駕島) to arrest the Nanban (southern barbarians), who in the previous year had pillaged a wide area of western Kyūshū. The Nanban were identified as Amami islanders by the Shōyūki (982–1032 for the extant portion). Accordingly, it is assumed that Dazaifu had a stronghold in the Kikai Island concerned.
The Shinsarugakuki, a fiction written by an aristocrat Fujiwara no Akihira in the mid-11th century, introduced a merchant named Hachirō-mauto, who traveled all the way to the land of the Fushū in the east and to Kika Island (貴賀之島) in the west.
Some articles of 1187 of the Azuma Kagami state that during the period of the Taira clan's rule, Ata Tadakage of Satsuma Province fled to Kikai Island (貴海島). The Azuma Kagami also states that in 1188 Minamoto no Yoritomo, who soon became the shogun, dispatched troops to pacify Kikai Island (貴賀井島). It was noted that the imperial court objected the military expedition claiming that it was beyond Japan's administration.
|“||Boats rarely passed, and people were scared. Residents were dark colored and their words were incomprehensible. Men did not wear eboshi, and women did not wear their hair down. There were no farmers or grain, not even clothing. In the center of the island was a tall mountain, and it was constantly in flames. Due to the large amounts of sulfur, the island was also known as Sulfur Island.||”|
There are some controversies over which Kikai in these sources refers to. It may be the modern-day Kikai Island, Iōjima and a collective name for the southern islands. From the late 10th century, Kikai was seen as the center of the southern islands by mainland Japan. It is also noted by scholars that the character representing the first syllable of Kikai changed from "貴" (noble) to "鬼" (ghost) from the end of the 12th century to the early 13th century.
Archaeologically speaking, the Gusuku Site Complex, discovered in Kikai Island in 2006, rewrites the history of the Ryukyu Islands. The group of archaeological sites on the plateau is one of the largest sites of the Ryukyu Islands of the era. It lasted from 9th to 13th centuries and at its height from the second half of the 11th to the first half of the 12th century. It was characterized by an near-total absence of the native Kaneku Type pottery, which prevailed in coastal communities. What were found instead were goods imported from mainland Japan, China and Korea. Also found was the Kamuiyaki (Kamïyaki) pottery, which was produced in Tokunoshima from the 11th to 14th centuries. The skewed distribution of Kamuiyaki peaked at Kikai and Tokunoshima suggests that the purpose of Kamuiyaki production was to serve it to Kikai. The Gusuku Site Complex supports the literature-based theory that Kikai Island was Japan's trade center of the southern islands.
In 1306, Chikama Tokiie, a deputy jitō of Kawanabe District, Satsuma Province on behalf of the Hōjō clan, the de facto ruler of the Kamakura shogunate, created a set of documents that specified properties to be inherited by his family members, which included Kikai Island, together with other islands of the Ōsumi, Tokara and Amami Islands. After the fall of the Kamakura shogunate, the southern islands seem to have been transferred to the Shimazu clan. It claimed the jito of the Twelve Islands, which were limited to the Ōsumi and Tokara Islands. However, when Shimazu Sadahisa, the head of the clan, handed over Satsuma Province to his son Morohisa in 1363, he added the extra Five Islands as the territories to be succeeded, which seem to refer to the Amami Islands including Kikai Island.
Kikai was conquered by the Ryūkyū Kingdom on the southern island of Okinawa. The Haedong Jegukgi (1471), whose source was a Japanese monk visiting Korea in 1453, describes Kikai as a territory of Ryūkyū. An article of 1462 in the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, which records an interview from a Jeju islander who had drifted to Okinawa in 1456, states that Kikai was resisting Ryūkyū's repeated invasions. According to the Chūzan Seikan (1650), King Shō Toku himself pacified Kikai Island in 1466, claiming that Kikai had not paid tribute for years.
As a result of Satsuma Domain's conquest of the Ryūkyū Kingdom of 1609, Kikai Island fell under the direct control of Satsuma. In 1871 Kikai became part of Kagoshima Prefecture. After World War II, Kikai suffered from the military occupation by the United States. It was returned to Japan in 1953.
- Takanashi Osamu 高梨修, Rettō nan'en ni okeru kyōkai ryōiki no yōsō 列島南縁における境界領域の様相, Kodai makki Nihon no kyōkai 古代末期・日本の境界, pp. 85–130, 2010
- Takanashi Osamu 高梨修, Gusuku isekigun to Kikai-ga-shima 城久遺跡群とキカイガシマ, Nichiryū Bōeki no reimei 日琉交易の黎明, pp. 121–149, 2008
- Murai Shōsuke 村井章介, Chūsei kokka no kyōkai to Ryūkyū, Emishi 中世国家の境界と琉球・蝦夷, Kyōkai no Nihon-shi 境界の日本史, pp. 106–137, 1997.
- Nagayama Shūichi 永山修一, Kodai chūsei ni okeru Satsuma Nantō kan no kōryū 古代・中世における薩摩・南島間の交流, Kyōkai no Nihon-shi 境界の日本史, pp. 145–150, 1997.
- Takahashi Ichirō 高橋一郎, Umi no Ko-Amami 海の古奄美, Nichiryū Bōeki no reimei 日琉交易の黎明, pp. 151–181, 2008.