It was so important that in 1690 a genealogical bureau called Chizuza (Keizuza in Japanese) was formed. All aristocrats were ordered by the government to submit their records showing their lineage from the old territorial leaders.
Ryukyu Social Hierarchy
Rising from Commoner Status to Aristocrat
In Ryukyu, attainment of genealogy by a commoner was a means to social status, and was highly sought after. The benefits of having a genealogy were many, including prestige and influence, ability to obtain a government job with a stipend, and freedom from working on farmlands and producing tax grains.
The government, however, did not want too many commoners to be converted to aristocrats since this would reduce the labor force needed for production of goods to support the noble families.
Genealogy was sought by both legal and illegal pathways.
Legal ways to obtain a genealogy normally involved the performance of "meritorious service" for the kingdom. However, a person could also contribute monetary donations for “public purposes.” In other words, you could legally buy a genealogy for the right price.
Illegal methods to become a person of genealogy involved commoners conspiring with corrupt officials to have forged genealogies created. Aristocrats also would try to bribe officials to create “improved” genealogies.
Commoners who were granted genealogies were known as shinzan or “newly entered (into aristocracy)”. They were distinguished from fudai or “hereditary” aristocrats. Therefore even with an aristocratic title and the same rank, there were two different classes of aristocracy, with “new aristocrats” inferior to “hereditary aristocrats”.
Royal Sho Family – the KingThe name Sho was for exclusive use of the royal family, having been given to Ryukyu by the Ming dynasty in 1372 when Satto was recognized as King of Chuzan. No one but the king could use that name or character. Those in the Sho lineage would designate their royal status by having a “cho” in their name, Examples from Matsuda's book: Higa Shuncho, Kabira Chosei, etc.
Shizoku Privileged Class – Fief Holders
Other Aristocratic Classes
Court Ranking System
Woji, Aji, Sessei
Red or purple
Red -> Yellow
Red -> Yellow
Promotion through the Ranks