This week, we cover the little-known “Chichibu Incident,” an uprising against the Meiji government in 1884 that saw several thousand people take up arms against the state. Where did it come from? How did the rebellion fare? And what is its connection to the broader trends of Japanese history?

Sources

Bowen, Roger W. Rebellion and Democracy in Meiji Japan.

Siniawer, Eiko. Ruffians, Yakuza, Nationalists: The Violent Politics of Modern Japan.

Steele, M. William. Alternative Narratives in Modern Japanese History.

Images

Tashiro Eisuke, party secretary of the Poor People’s Party (Konminto)

A monument to the Chichibu Incident. At the time decried as treason, the event is now more often viewed as a genuine popular uprising against a government that was not considerate regarding the hardships its policies inflicted.

Another monument to the incident. Note the leaders to the right (Tashiro is the one standing).

Kinsenji, a Buddhist temple in Chichibu, holds the grave of Tashiro Eisuke. He was captured by the government and executed for treason.

A Japanese-language map of the incident, from a local museum.