Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: Satsuma

Episode 241 – All in the Family, Part 3

This week, we conclude our up close look at the Shimazu family and Satsuma domain with a consideration of how the domain fit into Edo society, and its position in modern Japan.

Sources

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, vol 3

Beasley, W.G. The Collected Writings of W.G. Beasley

Hall, John Witney, et al., editors. An Institutional History of Early Modern Japan.

Jansen, Marius B. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images

Sekisho (checkpoints) like this one dotted Tokugawa Japan. This particular example is from Honshu, but the basic principle is the same — the gate allows for controlled access, giving samurai officials a chance to inspect traveler’s documentation.

A marker for one of the old sekisho in Kagoshima itself.

Today it’s a trendy tourist area, but in the early Edo Period, Bonotsu, just a short distance northwest of Kagoshima, was home to a Chinatown from which an illicit smuggling operation of Chinese goods into Kagoshima was operated.

Zusho Hirosato (Shouzaemon), who rescued the Shimazu clan’s finances from near disaster.

The Japanese government and the Kagoshima prefectural government run a museum dedicated to the history of Satsuma and the Shimazu — the Shokoshuseikan, shown here.

Kagoshima today — a modern city with a very distinct regional identity.

Episode 240 – All in the Family, Part 2

This week, we cover the sengoku era history of the Shimazu clan, and their meteoric ascent from  minor lords to major ones in the span of a few decades. Plus, the Tokugawa and the Shimazu, the role of sugar in the Shimazu clan’s fortunes, and the invasion of the Ryukyu islands. It’s a packed episode!

Sources

Sansom, George B. A History of Japan, Vol 2. 1334-1615

Turnbull, Stephen. The Samurai Capture a King: Okinawa, 1609.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Samurai: A Military History.

Also, while researching the grounds of some of the castles mentioned in this episode, I came across this fascinating blog that is worth a look.

Images

Shimazu Yoshihiro, the 17th Shimazu family head. Under his generalship, and then his leadership as daimyo, the Shimazu became a major force in Japanese politics.

The Battle of Mimigawa (1578). The crushing defeat of the Otomo clan signaled the rise of the Shimazu as major contenders to rule Kyushu.

Part of the remnants of the earthworks of Kakuto castle.

An armor set which belonged to Shimazu Yoshihiro.

The old provinces of Japan. Satsuma province is at the very bottom (no. 63). Neighboring Osumi (64) was occasionally under Shimazu control as well prior to the Sengoku period.

Compare this map to the locations of Satsuma and Osumi in the previous one and you can see how far the Shimazu came by 1584.

The remnants of Nakijin castle, wiped out in the one major engagement of the Okinawan campaign.

The gravestone of Jana Ueekata, the onl Okinawan to refuse to sign the final treaty of subordination.

Episode 239 – All in the Family, Part 1

This week, we start a short series on the history of one of the most influential fiefdoms in Japanese history (Satsuma) and the family who ruled it (the Shimazu). How did this little chunk of land on the edge of Japan grow to national importance?

Sources

A History of Japan to 1334 AND A History of Japan, 1334-1600. 

Turnbull, Stephen. War in Japan, 1467-1615

Images

Toufukuji castle, the first permanent military garrison on Kagoshima. It predates Shimazu clan arrival in the area by about a century.

The site of the meeting between Shimazu Takahisa and Francis Xavier. Working with missionaries was a requirement of obtaining Western style weapons.

Japanese arquebuses. The first islands where the Portuguese arrived (Tanegashima) was within the bounds of Satsuma domain, and Satsuma was one of the first domains to adopt the new weapon.

Shimazu Tadahisa as a monk. At the end of his long tenure as family head and daimyo, the Shimazu were in a far better position than they had been previously.

The old provinces of Japan. Satsuma province is at the very bottom (no. 63). Neighboring Osumi (64) was occasionally under Shimazu control as well prior to the Sengoku period.

Episode 11 – The End of an Era

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who messaged me or commented over the past week. Your input has been incredibly valuable, and I cannot thank you enough.

This week, we’ll be discussing the Bakumatsu, the 15 years prior to the collapse of the Tokugawa and the end of samurai rule in Japan. It’s a very complex, but incredibly fascinating story, and personally I find it to be one of the most compelling in Japanese history. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States, c. 1858.

Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States, c. 1858.

This Japanese woodblock print depicts Perry (center) flanked by two of his officers during their second voyage to Japan (1854).

This Japanese woodblock print depicts Perry (center) flanked by two of his officers during their second voyage to Japan (1854).

The island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay was used by the shogunate to build a gun emplacement with which to defend the harbor.  However, the inferior quality of Tokugawa weaponry compared to that of the West meant that it never could serve its purpose of warding off Western incursion.

The island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay was used by the shogunate to build a gun emplacement with which to defend the harbor. However, the inferior quality of Tokugawa weaponry compared to that of the West meant that it never could serve its purpose of warding off Western incursion.

A statue of Ii Naosuke in his hereditary domain of Hikone.

A statue of Ii Naosuke in his hereditary domain of Hikone.

The Sakuradamon Incident. Note the figure on the left escaping with the severed head of Naosuke.

The Sakuradamon Incident. Note the figure on the left escaping with the severed head of Naosuke.

The 1863 British bombardment of Kagoshima, as depicted by Le Monde. This event was one of the blows which led to the collapse of the original Sonno Joi movement and its eventual revival as a purely Emperor-focused anti-Tokugawa movement.

The 1863 British bombardment of Kagoshima, as depicted by Le Monde. This event was one of the blows which led to the collapse of the original Sonno Joi movement and its eventual revival as a purely Emperor-focused anti-Tokugawa movement.

Though some bakufu troops were modernized over the course of the 1860s, most were not. These soldiers, marching under the flags of the Tokugawa and their home province of Aizu, are an example of the latter.  By comparison, more or less the entirety of the anti-Tokugawa forces were equipped with modern weapons.

Though some bakufu troops were modernized over the course of the 1860s, most were not. These soldiers, marching under the flags of the Tokugawa and their home province of Aizu, are an example of the latter. By comparison, more or less the entirety of the anti-Tokugawa forces were equipped with modern weapons.

French-trained modern Bakufu troops on campaign in 1868.

French-trained modern Bakufu troops on campaign in 1868.

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