Suminokura Ryoi (角倉了以)

Ryoi SUMINOKURA (1554 - August 17, 1614) was a wealthy merchant in Kyoto during the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States).

With the start of trading by ships with a shogunal charter for foreign trade from the late 16th century to the mid-17th century, he traded with countries such as Annan. Furthermore, by the order of the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) he opened up Katsura-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River system), Fuji-gawa River, Takase-gawa River (Kyoto Prefecture) and Tenryu-gawa River. Locally, in Kyoto, he is well-known as 'the father of water transport' rather than a merchant, along with Sakuro TANABE, who was the designer of Lake Biwa Canal.

Soan SUMINOKURA was his eldest son, and Sojun SUMINOKURA was his younger brother. Mitsuyoshi YOSHIDA was his clan member. His grave is at Nison-in Temple in Sagano, Kyoto City.

Family Line

The Suminokura family's real name is 'Yoshida clan.'
It is said to be a branch family of the Sasaki clan. It is said that the family was originally from Yoshida-mura, Inugami-gun, Oe Province, and during the mid-Muromachi Period his ancestor went to the capital (Kyoto) and served as an in-house doctor of the Muromachi bakufu. Later, with the wealth acquired through practicing medicine his ancestor began to manage a doso business (money broker). Ryoi's grandfather, Sochu YOSHIDA, passed on his doso business to his eldest son, and he passed on his medical practice to his second son. This second son, Sokei YOSHIDA, was the biological father of Ryoi.

Along with 'the Chaya family' of Shirojiro CHAYA and 'the Goto family' of Shosaburo GOTO, the Suminokura family held the reins of power as 'the three millionaires in Kyoto,' but the Suminokura family differs from the two families because while these two families grew rapidly by becoming close to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, the Suminokura family was already a successful merchant even before then.

In fact, 'Suminokura' was taken from the name of one of the doso that they operated.

[Original Japanese]