Episode 131 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 14


In early 1868, the armies of the loyalists and the Tokugawa bakufu will clash outside Kyoto. We’ll discuss the factors that led to the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, and why what was supposed to be a walk in the park for the Tokugawa turned into a complete disaster.


Listen to the episode here.


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

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.


Omura Masujiro, the Choshu samurai next in the chain of command after the death of Takasugi Shinsaku. His lack of seniority, controversial views, and the need to bind Satsuma more fully to the alliance meant that he was not given command of the defenses of Kyoto.
Saigo Takamori would lead the defense of Kyoto. Prior to 1868, his only field experience came from the First Choshu Expedition, when he led a contingent of Satsuma troops against his future ally Choshu.
35mm original
The Toba battlefield; loyalist forces held a bridge over the Uji river against Tokugawa assault.
Another view of the Toba crossing.
Yodo Castle. The decision of the lord of Yodo to defect rather than allow Tokugawa forces to enter his keep represented the first time a fudai daimyo defected from the Tokugawa cause. It would not be the last.
Tokugawa Yoshinobu fleeing Osaka, which is shown burning behind him. Yoshinobu decided to flee to Edo rather than make a stand at Osaka.

2 thoughts on “Episode 131 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 14”

  1. You do a great job!

    With Kind Regards,

    Skip Klauber 10241 Guatemala St Cooper City Fla 33026 954 260 8366

    Sent from the iPad of Skip Klauber

    ********************************* “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”


  2. The Professor, for let’s call him what he is, does an incredible job. I had very little interest in Chinese History until listening to Laszlo Montgomery. Ditto Japanese History until the Professor. Like most in the West I thought interesting Japanese History began when Perry sailed into the general area of Yokohama. I never grasped the incredibly rich texture of Japan’s History. Not that I exactly have a grip on the subject now, but thanks to this podcast I see, am aware of, and want to learn more about Japan before as well as after circa 1860.

    I find it remarkable how Japan’s industrialization up to defeating Russia in 1905/1906 really dates from about 1870, not 1855 or so. To in 35 yrs develop the means to inflict the Tsushima Straits defeat on Russia is incredible. It was not just a matter of having modern ships, it was developing during such a short period of time the strategic and tactical skills of a modern navy.

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