Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: Tokugawa (Page 1 of 2)

Episode 222 – The Dog Shogun

This week: was Japan’s 5th Tokugawa shogun really as crazy as everybody says?

Spoilers: no.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Bodart-Bailey, Beatrice. The Dog Shogun: The Personality and Policies of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. 

A solid Japan Times article on Tsunayoshi’s reign.

Some excerpts from the Greater Learning (Da Xue/Daigaku) for the curious.

Images

Engelbert Kaempfer’s depiction of a daimyo’s retinue in Japan. Kaempfer’s depictions are some of the best non-Japanese sources for the high water mark of Edo life.

Engelbert Kaempfer’s books on Japan — like this one here — were among the first to provide Westerners with firsthand knowledge of the country. Kaempfer met Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, and thought highly of him as a ruler.

Tsunayoshi at the height of his power as the 5th shogun of the Tokugawa.

Episode 133 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 16

This week: the “short-lived” part of “the short-lived Ezo Republic” comes to fruition, and what is now Meiji Japan begins dealing with a new issue. Now that the Tokugawa are finally gone, what comes next?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Images

 

Stonewall-Kotetsu

The CSN Stonewall Jackson/IJN Kotetsu-maru. Commissioned by the Confederacy and built by the French, this warship was never delivered to its original purchasers. Instead, the US government sold it to the Tokugawa, but refused to deliver it after the Boshin War broke out. Instead, they ended up transferring it to the new Imperial Navy, which deployed it against the Ezo Republic.

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One of the ships of the Ezo Republic navy shown here having run aground after the failed attempt to seize the Kotetsu-maru.

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The Battle of Hakodate.

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Another view of the battle, this one from a European sketch. The Imperial fleet is shown here blockading Hakodate.

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Hijikata Toshizo died on June 20, 1869; he was the last major Shinsengumi leader left fighting. Seven days later the Ezo Republic surrendered.

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The Emperor’s procession to Edo, 1868. After his arrival, the city would be renamed Tokyo, a name reminiscent of the imperial capitols of China. Image courtesy of Bucknell University.

Episode 132 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 15

This week, we’ll cover the military campaigns of 1868. Edo will (surprisingly anticlimactically) fall, the north will rebel, and Matsudaira Katamori’s domain of Aizu will be overrun after a brutal two month siege. In the end, only the small splinter territory of the Ezo Republic will be left standing.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Goro, Shiba, Mahito Ishimitsu and Teruko Craig. Remembering Aizu.

Images

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A map of the major engagements of the Boshin War. Note that the dates are different on this one; that has to do with the fact that around this point, the new government was switching away from the old lunar calendar to the Western solar calendar, creating some confusion about what events happen when.

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This monument shows the site in modern Tokyo where Katsu Kaishu and Saigo Takamori sat down to negotiate the fate of the city.

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The Shogitai, shown here defending their bastion at Kan’eiji, made a futile last stand against the loyalists. Saigo Takamori crushed them with his Western style artillery.

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Troops from Sendai domain mobilize to fight the loyalists, June 1868.

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Aizu samurai defending their domain. The one on the far left is a woman; many Aizu women took up arms to defend their home against the loyalist assault.

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Pro-Tokugawa troops being shipped to Hakodate to join in Enomoto Takeaki’s rebellion.

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The vessels of the Ezo Republic navy, depicted in part here, were the greatest asset of the Ezo Republic.

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.

Sources

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

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images

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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.

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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.

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The Toba battlefield; loyalist forces held a bridge over the Uji river against Tokugawa assault.

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Another view of the Toba crossing.

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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.

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Tokugawa Yoshinobu fleeing Osaka, which is shown burning behind him. Yoshinobu decided to flee to Edo rather than make a stand at Osaka.

Episode 126 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 9

 

This week, we’ll move into the tumultuous events of 1863. Challenges foreign and domestic are going to upset the balance of power that has existed since the death of Ii Naosuke, and drive Japan ever closer to civil war.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.

Hashimoto Mitsuru, “Collision at Namamugi.” Representations 18 (Spring, 1987).

Images

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The bombardment of Kagoshima, as depicted in the Illustrated London News.

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Another view of the bombardment.

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The Namamugi Incident

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The Satsuma representatives paying an indemnity to Choshu.

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Charles Lenox Richardson after his death.

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Kondo Isami, captain of the Shinsengumi.

 

Episode 125 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 8

 

This week, we’ll move into the messy early/mid 1860s and look at the doomed attempt to bridge the gap between the Tokugawa and the Imperial Court. We’ll also look at the situation in Kyoto, which was growing more violent by the day.

 

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Totman, Conrad. “Tokugawa Yoshinobu and Kobugattai: A Study in Political Inadequacy”. Monumenta Nipponica 30, No. 4 (1975).

Images

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Tokugawa Yoshinobu, though he missed out on becoming shogun in 1858, would only four years later become the influential chief advisor to the young shogun Iemochi.

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A British depiction of the first shishi attack on their legation.

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Laurence Oliphant chasing away his shishi attacker with a bullwhip.

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In the wake of the legation attacks, the government of Tokugawa Yoshinobu went to great pains to hunt down the perpetrators. This British drawing shows one of them being executed.

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The Imperial Princess Kazunomiya was supposed to marry Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi and help bind the Tokugawa to the Kyoto court. Instead, the marriage proved to be one more source of Edo-Kyoto friction.

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Matsudaira Katamori, the Protector of Kyoto charged with bringing order to the city.

Episode 124 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 8

This week, the turbulent politics following the death of Ii Naosuke will result in the rise of one of the most famous symbols of the late Tokugawa era: the shishi, or men of spirit. These shishi groups, radicalized by the political trials of recent years, will introduce a degree of violence to Japanese politics not seen in generations, and pave the way for a fundamental change in Japanese politics.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images

Sakamoto Ryoma, a minor samurai from Tosa domain, started his political career as a devoted Shishi. However, Katsu Kaishu convinced him of the utility of foreign ideas, and instead Sakamoto began working at the bakufu's naval training academy in Nagasaki.

Sakamoto Ryoma, a minor samurai from Tosa domain, started his political career as a devoted Shishi. However, Katsu Kaishu convinced him of the utility of foreign ideas, and instead Sakamoto began working at the bakufu’s naval training academy in Nagasaki.

Katsu Kaishu, the head of the bakufu's naval training academy, was able not only to convince Sakamoto Ryoma not to kill him but to join him in spreading Western naval technology.

Katsu Kaishu, the head of the bakufu’s naval training academy, was able not only to convince Sakamoto Ryoma not to kill him but to join him in spreading Western naval technology.

This statue of Sakamoto Ryoma in Kochi (the former capitol of Tosa) speaks to his enduring popularity. We'll be spending a lot of time with young Sakamoto in coming weeks.

This statue of Sakamoto Ryoma in Kochi (the former capitol of Tosa) speaks to his enduring popularity. We’ll be spending a lot of time with young Sakamoto in coming weeks.

Takasugi Shinsaku, leader of the Choshu shishi, former student of Yoshida Shoin, kendoka and all around party guy.

Takasugi Shinsaku, leader of the Choshu shishi, former student of Yoshida Shoin, kendoka and all around party guy.

Episode 57 – The 47 Ronin

This week we’re covering one of the great tales of Japanese history: 47 warriors without a master who engaged in a bloody act of vengeance in the name of their former lord. In doing so, they catapulted themselves into the pages of history and legend, and remain some of Japan’s most treasured historical figures to this day.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Allyn, John. The 47 Ronin Story.

Sansom, George B. A History of Japan, Vol 3 1615-1867.

Takeda, Izumo, Shoraku Namishi and Namiki Senryu. Kanadehon Chushingura. Trans. Donald Keene.

A print depicting Asano's attack on Kira, triggering the whole cycle of revenge around which the 47 ronin tale revolves.

A print depicting Asano’s attack on Kira, triggering the whole cycle of revenge around which the 47 ronin tale revolves.

A print of Oishi Yoshio, the samurai who led the 47 Ronin.

A print of Oishi Yoshio, the samurai who led the 47 Ronin.

The final assault on Kira's mansion, by Hokusai Katsushika.

The final assault on Kira’s mansion, by Hokusai Katsushika.

A print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi showing the final assault of the 47 ronin on Kira's mansion.

A print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi showing the final assault of the 47 ronin on Kira’s mansion.

Oishi's ceremonial suicide (seppuku).

Oishi’s ceremonial suicide (seppuku).

The graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji.

The graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji.

A statue of Oishi Yoshio at Sengakuji in Tokyo, where he, his followers, and his lord are all interred.

A statue of Oishi Yoshio at Sengakuji in Tokyo, where he, his followers, and his lord are all interred.

Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation

Episode 41 – Striking from the Shadows

This week, we’re going to discuss the ninja, or at least what we can discern about them from the limited information that’s out there. We’ll discuss their origins, historic exploits, and the mythologization that turned them into the pop culture warriors we know and love today.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, Vol II: 1334-1615

Turnbull, Stephen.Ninja: The True Story of Japan’s Secret Warriors.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Yamato Takeru, the imperial prince who dressed as a woman to assassinate his enemies.

Yamato Takeru, the imperial prince who dressed as a woman to assassinate his enemies.

The location of Iga province.

The location of Iga province.

A Sengoku-period travel garment with secret armor worn beneath it. This kind of gear would be utilized by Iga or Koga ninja.

A Sengoku-period travel garment with secret armor worn beneath it. This kind of gear would be utilized by Iga or Koga ninja.

Hattori Hanzo, the samurai who brought the Iga ninja into Tokugawa service.

Hattori Hanzo, the samurai who brought the Iga ninja into Tokugawa service.

The ninja archetype as we understand it dates to the mass culture of the Edo Period. This image is from the Hokusai Manga, and dates from the early 1800s.

The ninja archetype as we understand it dates to the mass culture of the Edo Period. This image is from the Hokusai Manga, and dates from the early 1800s.

A villain from a kabuki drama utilizing ninja talents to escape. The mythologization of the ninja dates back to the Edo Period low-brow entertainments of ukiyo-e and kabuki.

A villain from a kabuki drama utilizing ninja talents to escape. The mythologization of the ninja dates back to the Edo Period low-brow entertainments of ukiyo-e and kabuki.

Episode 22 – The Way of the Warrior

For our first listener-submitted topic, we’re tackling Bushido: the warrior code of the samurai class. We’ll discuss the evolution of the bushido ideology, the role it played during the ages of warfare in Japan as well as during the Tokugawa, and its modern legacy in a post-samurai world.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Ikegami, Eiko. The Taming of the Samurai.

Jansen, Marius. A History of Japan.

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, Vol III: 1615-1867.

The Last Testament of Torii Mototada

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Kusunoki Masahige, the famous warrior who was loyal to his Emperor to the last. This statue is in the open part of the Tokyo Imperial Palace, as Masahige became something of a popular touchstone for Imperial loyalty after the Meiji Restoration.

Kusunoki Masahige, the famous warrior who was loyal to his Emperor to the last. This statue is in the open part of the Tokyo Imperial Palace, as Masahige became something of a popular touchstone for Imperial loyalty after the Meiji Restoration.

Torii Mototada, whose sacrifice (according to some) enabled Tokugawa Ieyasu to win the Battle of Sekigahara, and thus control of Japan.

Torii Mototada, whose sacrifice (according to some) enabled Tokugawa Ieyasu to win the Battle of Sekigahara, and thus control of Japan.

A bust of Yamaga Soko, the Bushido/Confucian philosopher.

A bust of Yamaga Soko, the Bushido/Confucian philosopher.

The 47 Ronin storm the home of Lord Kira, by Katsushika Hokusai.

The 47 Ronin storm the home of Lord Kira, by Katsushika Hokusai.

The graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji in Tokyo.

The graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji in Tokyo.

The Senjinkun, a military manual for Japanese soldiers in World War II. The text was heavily influenced by bushido ideology.

The Senjinkun, a military manual for Japanese soldiers in World War II. The text was heavily influenced by bushido ideology.

American translator William Scott Wilson led an international group of Hagakure enthusiasts to produce a manga version of the text (sample above). It's a pretty telling example of the hold Hagakure (and bushido more generally) still has on Japanese culture.

American translator William Scott Wilson led an international group of Hagakure enthusiasts to produce a manga version of the text (sample above). It’s a pretty telling example of the hold Hagakure (and bushido more generally) still has on Japanese culture.

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