Episode 433 – The Wrong Kind of Hero, Part 1

This week, we return to the turbulent age of the Bakumatsu–the collapse of the Tokugawa state–with a biography of one of the era’s most intriguing figures, Sakamoto Ryoma. Who was Ryoma, where did he come from, and how did he get swept into the complex politics of the time?


Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration

Beasley, WG. The Meiji Restoration

Beasley, WG. “The Foreign Threat and the Opening of the Ports” and Marius Jansen, “The Meiji Restoration” in The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol 5: The Nineteenth Century.


A map of the 60 traditional provinces of Japan; Tosa Province is in red.
Sakamoto in 1866. Though this picture is from later in his career, I think it does a good job conveying his attitude, which really comes through quite clearly.
Kouchi Castle, once the heart of a castle town by the same name. That town was where Sakamoto was born and educated.
Tokugawa Nariaki, the darling of the loyalist movement because of his connections to Mito domain (home to the scholars who provided its intellectual justification).