Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Month: December 2015

Episode 129 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 12

Choshu vs the Tokugawa, round 2! Only two years after being defeated by the Tokugawa, Choshu is back at war with Japan’s leading family. This time, they’ve got far more cards to play, though. Can Choshu defeat the Tokugawa and put them into a slow death spiral from which they will never recover?  Hint: yes!

Listen to the episode here.


Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.



Some, but not all parts of the shogun’s forces were modernized by 1866. This engraving depicts a group of French-trained Tokugawa officers, likely from the hatamoto class (direct retainers of the shogun whose holdings did not exceed the 10,000 koku threshold to be considered a daimyo).


Troops from Takada domain (ruled by the fudai Sakakibara family) marching in support of the Shogunate during the Second Choshu Expedition.


Modernized Tokugawa troops during the Second Choshu Expedition.


Photograph of a samurai from the time of the Second Choshu Expedition. Note the eclectic mix of styles; Western clothes with Japanese-style sword mountings.


Sakamoto Ryoma’s hand drawn map of his Kyushu operations, sent with a letter to his brother back in Tosa.


Episode 128 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 11

Not even a dead motherboard can stop me; 1865 is just too important for us to talk about! This week: Civil Wars, gunrunning, and important financial tips (hint: become an arms dealer) as we continue the march to the fall of the Tokugawa!

Listen to the episode here.


Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Huber, Thomas M. The Revolutionary Origins of Modern Japan.

Hane, Mikiso. Peasants, Rebels, Women and Outcasts: The Underside of Modern Japan.



A group of Kiheitai , c. 1865. Note the mix of dress style as well as Western and Japanese clothing.


Ernest Mason Satow, who did so much to facilitate the arms trade between the US/UK and anti-Tokugawa domains.


A Springfield model 1861 rifle. This was one of the most commonly issued weapons of the American Civil War, and after the conclusion of that war a large number of said rifles found their way to Japan.


Takasugi Shinsaku, who organized the shotai and in January 1865 led them in revolt against the Choshu government.

Episode 127 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 10

1864 is probably the most important year in the Meiji Restoration that nobody really has heard of; the Tokugawa will come as close to winning their fight for control of Japan as they ever will, and the shishi movement will end up on the ropes. So, how did the Tokugawa stage such an effective comeback, and why did Tokugawa victories end up laying the groundwork for Tokugawa defeats down the line? All that and more, this week!

Listen to the episode here.


Totman, Conrad. The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.



This print depicts the early stages of the Mito Rebellion. On the right side are the rebels, with their leader holding a banner reading “Sonno Joi” (Honor the Emperor, Expel the Barbarian). The retreating forces of the Tokugawa are on the left.


British troops pose with captured Choshu artillery during the attack on Shimonoseki. The allied British-French-American-Dutch force smashed the defenses of Choshu and easily destroyed its coastal forts.

"                               "

The site of the original Ikeda Inn was for a long time a pachinko parlor. A few years back, a new owner converted it into a Shinsengumi themed restaurant named after the original Ikeda Inn.


A view of the Choshu attack on Hamaguri gate. The palace is on the upper side of the picture; Choshu forces are distinguished by their banner (the line with three dots under it).


A second view of the Hamaguri attack showing the defeated Choshu attackers.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén