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He like to wax philosophy and thinks its cheeting to try to figure out the i ching by any means other than your own intelect
he likes those round rice/red bean past balls A LOT
Kondou (Kondo) Isami
by Armen Bakalian
Kondō Isami, as with much of Shinsengumi, presents something of an interesting figure to the historian and fan alike. He died a full-fledged, stipended Tokugawa samurai, but he was not born one. The story of his rise from very humble roots, climb to national notoriety, and sudden and disastrous fall, is one which testifies to the instability and tumult of that era.
October 9, Tenpo 5 (1834)- April 25, Keio 4. Lived 33 years. Born in Kami-ishihara Village, Tama District, Musashi Province (modern Tokyo Metropolis, Chofu-shi) Tennen-rishin Ryu
-Childhood names: Katsugoro, Katsuta. Letter (?): Toushuu, Gaishi. Assumed names: Kondou Kuranosuke, Kondou Yuuhei (currently being checked for veracity), Okubo Yamato, and others.
Kuranosuke was his adoptive great-grandfather's name
-His name is read "Isami," not "Isamu."
-Even though he looked frightening, you could see dimples when he laughed, and he was generally a kind person.
-His favorite sword was a Nagasone Kotetsu Okisato, 2 shaku 3 sun, 5 bu. It's said it was a fake.
COMMENT: I have a book published by William Hawley on Kotetsu the sword maker, and it's said that Kondou's sword was a forgery, made by the greatest swordsmith of the period, Minamoto no Kiyomaro, and signed with the Kotetsu signature by the master signature-forger Hosoda Heijiro. Apparently even Kotetsu himself had trouble telling fakes during his own lifetime-- as evidenced by his quote upon looking at a forgery: "The signature is mine but the blade is not."
-Other swords he liked were Mutsu-Miyoshi Nagamichi, Banshuu-Fujiwara Munesada, and Miyoshi Michinaga. The details can be found in "Shinsengumi Touchishiki" ("A Shinsengumi Miscellany" http://www.toshizo.com/nozoku/index.html).
Kondō Isami was born Miyagawa Katsugorō, the son of a farmer in the Tama district.(1) The Tama district was right outside of Edo (modern Tokyo), and was the direct landholding of the Tokugawa government. However, the farmers of Tama were unusual for member's of Japan's "rigid" caste system: they trained in the martial arts. Several of the "non-samurai" people later prominent in the young Katsugorō's life were also patrons of swordsmanship.(2) Katsugorō's family was a somewhat wealthy farming family, and so they were able to afford educating their son in the literary and martial arts. In his youth, he greatly enjoyed reading, and was
said to have read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the story of the 47 Ronin many times.(3) It was also in his youth (in late 1848) that he began to train in the Tennen Rishin-ryū, a school of swordsmanship that was popular amongst the farmers of Tama.(4) Katsugoro's skill in learning, as well as his exploits in dealing with thieves, attracted the attention of the Tennen Rishin-ryū headmaster, Kondō Shūsuke(5), and soon, Katsugorō was adopted into the headmaster's family.(6) As he was not yet headmaster himself, he assumed a new name (taking the elder Kondō's old family name) and called himself Shimazaki Katsuta.(7) He would make several more name changes, first becoming Shimazaki Isami before becoming Kondō Isami.(8) An important point to bear in mind is that Kondō Shūsuke was himself once a farmer's son, and was the third generation heir to the Tennen Rishin-ryū tradition. So the Kondō "line" itself was another instance where farmers had made something of themselves, beyond the limitations of their status at birth.
"The winter of that year, Kondou Isami took the name Okubo Takeshi, and Hijikata Toshizo took the name Naito Hayanosuke, and they were promoted to omemie-ijo  status." Ishin no Minamoto. Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1974, p. 29
 "That year" is Keio 3 (1867)  "omemie-ijo" means that they had the right to have a face-to-face, private audience with the Shogun. This is a status given mainly to senior hatamoto and daimyo.
THE RŌSHIGUMI AND KONDŌ’S RISE IN FORTUNE
The Kondō family's standing in society no doubt greatly rose in 1860, with Isami's marriage to Matsui Tsune. Tsune was the daughter of Matsui Yasogorō, who was a senior retainer of the Shimizu branch of the Tokugawa family.(9) This close connection with a stipended samurai as well as the shogun's house must benefitted the Kondō family, which was technically a house of masterless samurai. Another part of the Kondō
family's rise in fortunes was Isami's candidacy for a teaching position at the Kobusho, which was the shogunate's new martial arts academy. However, because of Kondō’s lowly birth, this unfortunately did not come to pass.(10)
During these years, Kondō met many of the men who would remain important throughout his adult life. Hijikata Toshizō, a merchant's son from elsewhere in the Tama region, was a Tennen Rishin-ryū student. Okita Sōjirō, the son of Shirakawa domain retainer Okita Katsujirō, was another student. Okita had trained extensively in the art, and in his teen years, functioned as an assistant instructor (comparable to a teaching assistant in a modern school). Inoue Genzaburō and his brother Matsugorō, members of another prominent Tama family, were also students of the school. The Kondō family was also surrounded by students of other schools who were cross-training. Nagakura Shinpachi, a practicioner of Shintō Munen-ryū, was one. The son of a Matsumae domain retainer, he had left home and traveled extensively, acquiring experience in Shingyōtō-ryū, Tennen Rishinryū, and other traditions. Harada Sanosuke, trained in the Hōzōin-ryū tradition of spearmanship, was another. Harada's non-samurai origins were even more unusual than Kondō's: he was the son of a chūgen- a classification of underlings who straddled the line between warrior and commoner, who were allowed to wear a short sword and formed the bulk of a lord's travel retinue. There was Yamanami Keisuke, who was a student of Hokushin Ittō-ryū. Yamanami was originally from the enormous Sendai domain, in the far north of Japan's main island. His exact background is unclear, but some historians believe him to have been the son of Sakurada Keisuke, the Sendai domain's official instructor of Hokushin Ittō-ryu.(11)
In the aftermath of the shogunate's signing of unequal treaties with the United States, radical nationalists began to emerge, and destabilize the country through assassination. The most high-profile assassination was that of Ii Naosuke, the shogunate's tairō, or great elder, who had signed one of the treaties and had repressed anyone who voiced opposition. This period of Ii-sponsored government crackdown was known as Ansei no Taigoku, or the Ansei Great Purge, after the contemporary era-name. Ii was killed in 1860, just outside the Sakurada Gate of Edo Castle, by a group of runaway Mito retainers and one man from the southern domain of Satsuma. However, soon there were people not connected with Ii who had become targets of assassination, such as scholars. The school of thought espoused by
these assassins was a radical form of sonnō-jōi, or “revere the emperor, expel the barbarian.” While many people, from the shogunate to scholars to dirt-poor assassins, followed this school of thought, their approach differed, with some preferring assassination and others preferring a more constructive approach of building up national strength and fostering unity through dialogue.
In 1862, the shogunate was moving to control the rising tide of assassinations, especially in the imperial capital, Kyoto. In the summer, it began to search for a suitable domain to take up the duty of securing the peace in Kyoto. After having difficulties with several of the larger feudal domains, it settled on the Aizu domain. Aizu, in northern Japan, was ruled by the Matsudaira family, a branch of the Tokugawa clan. They, unlike other domains, had an article in their house code (the domain's constitution) specifically obliging the domain to obey the shogunal government, no matter what. Despite financial woes and internal dissent, Matsudaira Katamori, the lord of Aizu, could not refuse, and so, after a few months of preparation, entered Kyoto in early 1863, at the head of 1000 of his own men.(12)
Simultaneously, the shogunate was preparing for the young shogun Iemochi's trip to Kyoto. As part of their plans, they began to recruit ronin-- masterless warriors-- for the purpose of providing security upon the shogun's arrival. The recruiting drive was ordered by the senior shogunate official Itakura Katsukiyo, and spearheaded by Matsudaira Tadatoshi, a hatamoto, or shogunal retainer, who was a senior official in the previously mentioned Kobusho. Kondō and his acquaintances from Shieikan joined in this recruiting movement.(13)
In order to understand Kondō’s mindset behind joining this unit (known as the Rōshigumi), we must return to the issue of Kondō’s rejection by the Kobusho. One of the reasons behind his joining Roshigumi was frustration at this rejection. He had petitioned the Kobusho many times, and believed that teachers at the Kobusho were truly selected on the basis of their ability rather than their status. Upon hearing of his rejection on the basis of his birth status, Kondō changed. He began to hate training, and lazily whiled the time away. This change in attitude lasted until word spread about the Rōshigumi. Regretting his dissolute actions, he joined.(14)
The Shieikan men were far from posessing any sort of high position, but their time in the rank-and-file introduced them to a group of men who would soon go on to be important in their work: the "faction" of Serizawa Kamo (18261863). Kamo, an authoritative, curiously-named(15) man, was a former retainer of the Mito domain. His associates, including Niimi Nishiki (18361863), were for the most part, men of Mito, and had connections with the radical Mito faction, the Tengu-tō.(16)
As stated above, the recruiting drive had begun under the auspices of Matsudaira Tadatoshi, who was soon joined in this role by Udono Kyūō, another Tokugawa retainer who had formerly served as metsuke, or inspector.(17) However, the real control of the group lay in the hands of Kiyokawa Hachirō (1830-1863). Kiyokawa was a gōshi, or rural samurai, from the Shōnai domain, in northern Japan. Kiyokawa was no newcomer to the ever-burgeoning scene of political activism; he was a veteran shishi, and had even proven his sonnō-jōi credibility, having been involved in the assassination of the Dutch-American consular assistant Henry Heusken.(18) As the unit was heading to Kyoto, sonnōjōi was a must; even Matsudaira Katamori himself, despite his interest in foreign relations, had to adopt a public show of sonnō-jōi. Consequently, Kiyokawa’s presence helped keep the unit together, composed as it was of a large number of people from varying backgrounds, and was therefore potentially dangerous. The unit arrived in Kyoto on the morning of the 23th of the 2nd month of Bunkyu 3, or April 10, 1863, and was quartered in various locations throughout the Mibu area, south of central Kyoto.(19) That night, Kiyokawa gathered them all together at Shintokuji, a local temple, and had an honest talk about what he felt the group’s true objectives were. Though they had been gathered up to assist in the shogun’s security, they received no stipend from the shogunate, and therefore had no obligation to it. Their true objective was, instead, to serve as the vanguard for the jōi movement, and to that end, a petition would be submitted to the imperial court.(20)
To encourage the men towards this end, he requested permission from the imperial government for the men to tour the palace. This was permitted, and so in three groups, one for each of the days from the 28th to the 30th (Kondō and his group went on the 29th).(21) However, the situation changed very quickly for the Rōshigumi. On the 3rd, Udono and Rōshigumi officer Yamaoka Tesshū (another Tokugawa retainer) revealed to the group that an English fleet was en route to Yokohama, in response to the outrage of the previous year’s Namamugi Incident.(22)
A bit of explanation is necessary at this point. The Namamugi Incident (Namamugi-jiken in Japanese), also known as the Richardson Incident, occurred on the 14th of September, 1862. A group of Englishmen led by Charles Lennox Richardson were out riding near Yokohama at Namamugi, a station on the famous Tōkaidō road. They were traveling in one direction, and at the same time, Shimazu Hisamitsu, the father of the lord of Satsuma, was traveling with his entourage in the other direction. Richardson and the others did not dismount and bow when confronted with the Satsuma procession, which was the expected act of courtesy to be shown to a lordly procession. Enraged, Hisamitsu’s retainers killed Richardson and wounded two of his companions. The shogunate was in confusion following this incident. The foreign community was in an uproar, and ultimately, Satsuma was to blame for Richardson’s death. It took the quick thinking of Ogasawara Nagamichi, one of the shogunate’s senior councilors, to pay an indemnity to England without waiting for official action from the shogun.(23)
To return to the issue of the Rōshigumi, this impending arrival of the English fleet was viewed with great concern, and it was believed that Yokohama could become a battleground very soon. As such, permission was sought from the imperial court for the unit to return to Edo. There was more than the looming foreign threat that had them in dire straits; Itakura Katsukiyo had heard of how Kiyokawa had summarily dismissed the group’s original goal, and summoned Kiyokawa to explain himself.(24) From the court, permission was granted on the 3rd, by the imperial regent (kanpaku) Takatsukasa Masamichi.(25) Despite this push to return to Edo, there were some in the group who refused to leave Kyoto. These men believed that as it was the shogunate which had brought them there for the sake of protecting the shogun, it was not right to leave without having accomplished that goal. (26) Udono ordered two men, Tonouchi Yoshio and Iesato Tsuguo, to gather up these men who had indicated dissent.(27)
Here we must turn our attention back to Aizu. Matsudaira Katamori had entered Kyoto just before the Rōshigumi arrived in the city, and had taken office as Kyoto Protector. On the 10th of the 3rd month, as Rōshigumi was preparing to return eastward, he received a communiqué from the shogunate, saying that “men of loyalty and patriotism” had arrived in the city, and that he was to take them under his supervision. (28) On the same day, Kondō, Serizawa, and the others submitted a petition asking Aizu to do exactly the same thing. As historian Kikuchi Akira
points out, this does not seem coincidental.(29) Indeed, according to research by Akama Shizuko, Serizawa’s eldest brother was Matsudaira Katamori’s pharmacist and had the lord’s trust, so it does not seem altogether unlikely that there was some private communication taking place between the brothers soon after Aizu received the order.(30)
At midnight on the 12th of the 3rd month (29 into 30 April, 1863), the men received notification that their request had been granted, and that they were now Aizu-han azukari—“Under Aizu Supervision.”(31) They were no doubt greatly relieved, and it would hardly be surprising if they slept through the next morning, when Kiyokawa and the others left town. The formal announcement of Aizu’s supervision of this handful of men came on the 15th, which was the day that they reported to the Aizu headquarters at Kurotani to pay their respects.(32) As Matsudaira Katamori was unavailable at the time (quite possibly too ill to appear), the men were met by Tanaka Tosa and Yokoyama Chikara, two of Katamori’s senior retainers.(33)
With Aizu patronage secured, a new chapter began, both in Kondō’s life and in the history of his unit. The unit’s command structure combined both “factions”: Kondō, Serizawa, and Niimi were joint kyokuchō, or chief commanders. However, these early days also brought many brushes with disaster for the unit, thanks to the actions of Serizawa and his men. Above all else, Serizawa and his men enjoyed two things: good parties, and good fights, and in these early days of the unit, he would have both, much to the embarrassment of Kondō and his men. Records of the Aizu clan also show this: soon after the domain’s granting of patronage, a group of Aizu men under Honda Shirō visited Mibu and joined Kondō, Serizawa, and the others in drinking and watching the Mibu-sarugaku, a local form of theater related to the famous Nō.(34)
Serizawa’s appetite for picking fights would soon become lethal. On the 2nd of the 6th month, a group of 10 men including Kondō and Serizawa went to Osaka, for the purpose of rounding up troublemaking ronin.(35) On the 3rd, they took in two men and delivered them to the offices of the Osaka Magistrate.(36) It was on this day that Serizawa decided to pick a fight. Around 4 PM, he was leading 7 other men (Hirayama, Noguchi, Yamanami,
Okita, Nagakura, Harada, and Saitō) in “water training,” aboard a small boat.(37) The men were all dressed in training outfits, and were armed with their wakizashi (short swords) only.(38) While en route, Saitō complained of stomach pain, so the group went ashore. At that point, they ran into a group of sumo wrestlers who were already there. Serizawa said “Get out of the way,” but the sumo wrestlers simply became angered and shouted back at him. Infuriated, Serizawa drew his sword and cut down one of the wrestlers, whose body was carried away by his companions.(39)
The group proceeded to the Senkichiya store, where Saitō was given medical treatment for his stomach pain.(40) At that moment, a large group of over 20 angry wrestlers arrived (the exact number is cited as anywhere from 20 to Nagakura’s rather liberal estimate of 60), and a fight broke out.(41) Serizawa and the others managed to wound 14 of them, with no injuries to themselves.(42) One high ranked wrestler, the sekitori(43) named Kumakawa Kumajirō, as well as three others, died of their wounds the next morning.(44) While it cannot be denied that the wrestlers chose a provocative course of action, Serizawa’s retaliation was not the best idea for a group that was only just beginning to assert itself as a new arm of law enforcement in the region.
The sumo incident pales in comparison to the burning of the Yamatoya clothing store.
Saving Kondou 2 Different Stories by Shimazu Masayoshi (Hirotada Tokugawa)
"A messenger arrives at Itabashi with a letter seemingly written by Katsu Kaishu requesting that Kondou's life be spared. "No firm evidence exists to prove that Kaishu actually wrote the letter." The messenger was arrested and the request was denied. (Hillsborough Shinsengumi 160-161)"
"A Tennen Rishin-ryu student-- a yoriki by the name of Fukuda Heima-- visited Katsu Kaishu on the 14th. In Katsu's diary on that day is written I have submitted a petition regarding Yamato. He had submitted a petition to the new government to spare the life of Kondou Isami, also known as Okubo Yamato. For Hijikata, who had parted ways with Kondou and Shinsengumi and left Edo, this was the one last wish which he had entrusted Katsu with." (Kikuchi 216)
Beheaded at Itabashi, his graves are at Ryuugan-ji in Itabashi, and elsewhere. In 1868 (Keio 4), he surrendered to the New Government Army at Nagareyama in Shimosa province.
Death Poem [scan] we provided the scan to show the difficulty in translating Kondou's last words. The term death poem is "jisei" or "Jisei no Ku".
It is written in kanbun and therefore it had to be translated by someone who can read Chinese. The following was translated by Felicia from page 24 "Kondou Isami Den". Kyu Bakufu Volume 5, number 5, published Meiji 34, June 25.
lonely soldier, backup soldier, refuse to tolerate captives. thinking of [you]r favors to me makes me cry to myself. a whole feeling of loss can [die/kill] the holiday. Only sun in these thousand years past is my years. [?] he today returning what is there to say. For [loyalty] he gave his life and earned my respect. soon will feel lightning 3 meter sword. just to die once to repay the favor. "Lonely soldier, backup soldier" may also be "A stranded army, without hope of relief".
Thank you Shimazu Masayoshi (Hirotada Tokugawa) and Felicia for helping us
to understand Kondou's last poem.
The execution of Kondou Isami
Tani Tateki of Tosa was one of the strongest supporters for the beheading of the former Shinsengumi chief. Please see page 161 of Hillsborough's book "The Tosa men bore the strongest vendetta against Kondo, whom they held responsible for the assassinations of Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro...According to Tani's account of the trial, Satsuma argued for leniency while Tosa insisted that Kondo be executed."
The following rough translation was provided by Shimazu Masayoshi "We here transcribe the words of a notice posted at Itabashi-juku on the 25th of April:
'Notice of display of a severed head, posted at Ichirizuka. (Keio 4, intercalary 4/6, in the newspaper Koko-Shinbun)
"A copy of the notice board posted at Ichirizuka, on the path between Takinokawa-Sangenya and the Itabashi 'station' of the Nakasendo Highway:
The aforementioned was formerly a vagrant, who, after serving as commander of the Shinsengumi in Kyoto, moved his residence to Edo and changed his name to Okubo Yamato. He raised his hand against the Imperial Army in Kai Province and then at Nagareyama in Shimosa Province, falsely claiming to act under the secret orders of the Tokugawa clan. With such complex plans, and because he falsely used the name of the Tokugawa, and furthermore, because his crimes know no bounds, his execution has been duly carried out, and his head publicly displayed."
[source and scan]
-His head was displayed in Kyoto at Sanjo-Kawara (NOTE: same district as Ikedaya). After that its location became unknown, but today, people are trying to figure out what happened. -His body's fate is also unknown, but two very strong possibilities are that either it was buried in his grave at Ryuugan-ji in Mitaka (in Tokyo), or at the Monument for Consolation of Spirits in front of Itabashi Train Station.
Kondou's remains are at Aizu [pic] (present day Fukushima Prefecture)
It is still debatable if his hair or head is part of this memorial is at Aizu.
Kyu Bakufu Magazine (which printed Kondou's Biography)
The Farmers of Edo and the Warriors in Kyoto
Kondou Isami's Sword Nagasone Kotetsu
More details on Kondou can be found on our TIMELINE too.
Akama, Shizuko. Shinsengumi Saito Hajime no nazo 1998 Japanese Book 183 p. : ill. ; 20 cm. Tokyo : Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha, ; ISBN: 4404026269 [non-fiction]
Fujiwara Ainosuke. Sendai Boshin-shi Vol. I. (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1980-1981),
Hillsborough, Romulus. Shinsengumi: The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps. Tuttle Publishing ISBN: 0804836272
Ishin no Minamoto. Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1974, p. 29
Kikuchi Akira, Shinsengumi Hyakuichi no Nazo. Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha, 2000,
Kikuchi Akira. Shinsengumi 101 no Nazo. (Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 2000),
"Kondou Isami Den". Kyu Bakufu Volume 5, number 5, published Meiji 34, June 25. (page 24 death poem)
Ōishi Manabu. Shinsengumi: Saigo no Bushi no Jitsuzō. (Tokyo: Chuōkōron-shinsha, 2004)
Totman, Conrad. The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868. (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1980)
From http://www.toshizo.com/name/isami.html (the basis of information on this page)
(1)Ōishi Manabu. Shinsengumi: Saigo no Bushi no Jitsuzō. (Tokyo: Chuōkōron-shinsha, 2004), p. 21. (2) Satō Hikogorō and Kojima Shikanosuke, among others. (3)http://www.toshizo.com/name/isami.html (4)Ōishi, p. 22. (5)http://www.toshizo.com/name/isami.html (6)Ōishi, p. 22. (7)Kikuchi Akira. Shinsengumi 101 no Nazo. (Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 2000), pp. 14-15. (8)Kikuchi, p. 15. (9)Ōishi, p. 24. (10)Akama Shizuko. Shinsengumi Saitō Hajime no Nazo. (Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 1998), p. 25. (11)Ōishi, pp. 26-30; Fujiwara Ainosuke. Sendai Boshin-shi Vol. I. (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1980-1981), p. 717. (12) Totman, Conrad. The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868. (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1980), p. 46; Takano Kiyoshi. Tokugawa Yoshinobu: Kindai Nihon no Enshutsusha. (Tokyo: Nihon Hōsō Shuppan Kyōkai, 1997), p. 134. (13)Ōishi, p. 65; Kikuchi, p. 33. (14)Akama, p. 25. (15)Curiously named: His name, "kamo," meant "wild duck." (16)Kikuchi, p. 37. (17)Ōishi, p. 66. (18)Ōishi, p. 65. (19)Kikuchi, p. 36. (20)Kikuchi, p. 36. (21)Ōishi, p. 73. (22)Ōishi, p. 73.
(23)Totman, pp. 14-15. (24)Hoshi Ryōichi. Bakumatsu no Aizu-han: unmei wo kimeta jōraku. (Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 2001), p. 36. (25) Kikuchi, p. 36. (26) Kikuchi, p. 36 (27)Kikuchi, p. 40. (28)Ōishi, p. 73. (29)Kikuchi, p. 37. (30)Akama, p. 37. (31)Ōishi, p. 73. (32)Kikuchi, p. 37; Oishi, p. 74. (33)Kikuchi, p. 37. (34)Ōishi, p. 78. (35)Ōishi, p. 81. (36)Ōishi, p. 81. (37)Ōishi, p. 81. (38)Ōishi, pp. 81-82. (39)Ōishi, p. 82. (40)Ōishi, p. 82. (41)Ōishi, p. 82. (42)Ōishi, p. 82. (43)“Sekitori” is a term which denotes a high-ranking, professional sumo wrestler. (44)Ōishi, p. 82.
thank the gods I know smart people
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