Episode 130 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 13


This week, we cover 1867: the final year of the Tokugawa shogunate (sort of). Caught between a loyalist rock and an imperial hard place, Tokugawa Yoshinobu will consider the unthinkable: resignation, and an end to 260 years of bakufu tradition.


Listen to the episode here.


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

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.


The young emperor Meiji. This photo dates from 1871, four years after his enthronement.
Another view of the Emperor Meiji, depicted early in his reign with a group of shishi loyalists. Meiji, unlike his father Komei, was not a consverative and had no attachment to the Tokugawa, and was thus willing to throw in with the shishi.
Katsu Kaishu in the 1860s. Katsu was tapped to try to negotiate a settlement between the two sides in 1867, but failed — there was no common ground from which to even begin a negotiation, let alone conclude one.
Nijo Castle, home of the shogunal presence in Kyoto. While staying here during negotiations, Tokugawa Yoshinobu made the fateful decision to agree to resign and return power to the emperor.
A stylized depiction of Yoshinobu’s announcement of his resignation. The real ceremony, I suspect, was not this tranquil.

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