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A MOST AUDACIOUS YOUNG MAN The Life of Yoshida Shin

A MOST AUDACIOUS YOUNG MAN The Life of Yoshida Shin


By

Hayato Tokugawa

An Excerpt from Profiles In Japanese History:

The Bakumatsu

SHISEI-D PUBLICATIONS Tajimi, Japan and San Francisco, California

A MOST AUDACIOUS YOUNG MAN. Copyright 2010, 2011, and 2012 by Hayato Tokugawa and Shisei-D Publications. Japanese Version Copyright 2009, 2010, and 2012 by Hayato Tokugawa and Shisei-D Publications. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States and Japan by Shisei-D Publications. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without prior written permission of the author or publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. A Most Audacious Young Man is an abstract from Profiles in Japanese History: The Bakumatsu, by Hayato Tokugawa. Copyright 2009 by Hayato Tokugawa.

www.shiseidopublications.com

For Aoi, My wife, my translator, and my muse.

A Most Audacious Young Man

On October 17, 1859, a young Japanese man was led into a small courtyard in Edo (now Toky). With stoic grace he knelt down on a straw mat, in front of which had been dug a rectangular hole. The young man calmly composed himself, arranged his clothes, and then recited his death poem: Mi wa tatoi Musashi no nobe ni Kuchinu tomo Todome okamashi Yamato-d amashii 1

Though my corpse rot Beneath the ground Of Musashi My soul remains forever Japanese The executioner, Yamada Asaemon, a gentleman most skilled at his craft, raised his katana1 and with one stroke, severed the head of the bowing young man. As the small group of government officials who had been required to witness the execution departed, one member of the Bakufu2 shook his head and commented, A most audacious young man. This most audacious young man was the same young man who often referred to himself as Tora and who once wrote, Tora means tiger, and the virtue of the tiger is courage. If I have the valor of a tiger, it can only be as a teacher. He was more commonly known as Yoshida Shin, one of the most distinguished intellectuals and revolutionaries in Japanese history and the closing days of the Tokugawa Shguns3. He was a man who was devoted to developing many ishin shishi4 or political activists, who later would play a significant role in the new Japan of the Meiji Restoration5. Only twenty-nine when he died, he possessed a passion and resolute spirit for his vision of a modern Japan. Yoshida Shin was born Toranosuke, in the village of Matsumoto, which lies in the hilly countryside that surrounds the castle town of Hagi, the center of the feudal domain of Chsh Province, on September 20, 1830. He was the son of Sugi Yurinosuke, a low-ranked samurai with only a small stipend of sixtytwo koku6 per year. Sugi was a teacher of military tactics but found it 2

necessary to divide his time between teaching and farming in order to support his family: his wife Kodama Taki, his daughter Chiyo, and Shin. He was devoted to both learning and literature; indeed, even as he labored in the fields he could often be found reading as he worked. This man of learning and of the earth had a great influence on the young Shin who would remain all his life a peasant at heart: sincere, unpretentious, and attached to the earth and nature. As one of his students recalled after his death, He knew nothing of anger. He was kind to others and had a polite manner and speech. Physically frail, the young man was indeed soft-spoken as well as a master of self-control, with exceptionally strong willpower. Like his father, the son was an avid scholar who would often deny himself sleep in order to study. He was even known to stand or walk in the snow in order to keep himself awake; and one story has it that in the summer, he would put mosquitoes into the sleeves of his yukata in order to stay alert. As a child of four or five, Shin was adopted into the family of his uncle, Yoshida Daisuki Kenry, a slightly higher-ranked samurai than his father, and assumed the name Yoshida Daijir. Yoshida Daisuki was an ambitious man, yet one who also possessed a love of knowledge and learning. A student of the Chinese classics, he hoped someday to establish himself as a scholar. Unfortunately, he died at the age of twenty-nine and never realized his dream. Daisuki had a great influence on the boy, who already at the age of five, had shown signs of being a prodigy, and early on began the boys education in both military tactics and classical Chinese literature. Daisuki was profoundly loyal to the Emperor and a student of Yamaga-ry, a style of kenjutsu7 and jujutsu8 founded by Yamaga Sok9; thus, young Shin developed a deep devotion to Yamaga as well, and particularly to his teachings on Confucian thought and the ethics of Bushid10. He also acquired a close affinity for the principles of military science laid down by Sun-Tsu11 in his Art of War: something that would often be expressed in his writings as an adult: From the beginning of the year to the end, day and night, morning 3

and evening, in action and repose, in speech and in silence, the warrior must keep death constantly before him and always have in mind that the one death [that a person has to offer] should not be suffered in vain. In other words, he must have control over his own death just as if he were holding an unruly horse in check. Only he who truly keeps death in mind in this way can understand what is meant by vigilance. If a general and his men fear death and are apprehensive about possible defeat, then they will unavoidably suffer defeat and death. But if they make up their minds, from the general on down to the last soldier, not to think of living but only of standing their ground and facing death together; then although they may have no other thought than to meet death, they will instead hold onto life and win victory. If the body dies, it does no harm to the mind, but if the mind dies, one can no longer act as a man should, even though the body survives. It wasnt long before the boy-genius came to the attention of the local daimy who ordered that several teachers of military science, Watanabe Rokubei, Hayashi Shinjin, Tamaki Bunnonshin13, and Ishizu Heishichi, were to act as Shins tutors. Because of this special attention, at the age of eight the boy entered the Meirinkan, or clan college in Chsh where he studied the Confucian philosophy of Mencius14 (Meng-tsu). Incredibly, the following year he actually taught at the school. By the age of ten, he had won high praise from the daimy of Chsh for a series of lectures he delivered on military tactics. By the time he had reached fifteen, Shin had amazed almost everyone who had come into contact with him, with his advanced knowledge and constant thirst for learning. Not only did he attend college, he regularly taught there, and when he had time, he also studied at the rural school established by his father, the Shoka Sonjuku (Village School under the Pines), at which his uncle Tamaki was head master.

In 1848, Shin became a full-time, independent teacher at the Meirinkan, and at the same time studied and worked at several posts within the castle of the daimy, who was intent on grooming the young man for a high administrative position. Yet Yoshida had become aware of what was happening beyond the confines of Chsh as well as in the world beyond Japans borders. At eighteen, he authored a bold kempaku, or critical essay (the first of many), that urged reforms in Japanese education, particularly at the college level. He described his views regarding punishments, rewards, school rules, etiquette, and how examinations and elections should be held. He also expressed his thoughts on reform within the nation, while showing himself to be a strong advocate for the teaching of both military and literary sciences. Those who take up the science of war must not fail to master the classics. The reason is that arms are dangerous instruments and not necessarily forces for good. How can we safely entrust them to any but those who have been schooled in the classics and use these weapons for the realization of humanity and rightness? To put down violence and disorder, to repel the barbarians and bandits, to rescue living souls 5

from agony and torture, to save the nation from imminent downfall: these are the true ends of humanity and rightness. If on the contrary, arms are taken up in a selfish struggle to win land, goods, people and weapons of war, is it not the worst of all evils, the most heinous of all offenses? Further, if the study of offensive and defensive warfare, of the way to certain victory in all encounters is not based on those principles that should govern their employment, who can say that such an endeavor would not result in just such a calamity? I say, therefore, that those who take up the science of war must not fail to master the classics. In the same vein, he also wrote: What I mean by the pursuit of learning is not the ability to read classical texts and to study ancient history, but to be fully acquainted with the conditions that exist all over the world and to have an acute awareness of what is going on around us. Now from what I can see, world trends and conditions are still unsettled, and as long as they remain so, there is still a chance that something can be done. First, therefore, we must rectify conditions in our own domain [Chsh], after which conditions in other domains can be corrected. This having been done, conditions at Court can be set right, and finally conditions throughout the whole world can be rectified. First, one must set oneself as an example and then it can be gradually extended to others. This is what I mean by the pursuit of learning. Shin often credited Bushid, the strict Way of the Warrior, with being responsible for saving Japan from the fate that China had suffered at the hands of foreigners. To his thinking, the nation needed to be brought back to the simple ways of samurai ethics. In its most simple definition, Bushid was a set of ethics, that is, a way of life that called for strict obedience to ones superiors and care and protection of ones subordinates. One served by being honest, courageous, polite, and by obeying ones parents. A samurai served his lord (the daimy), who in turn obeyed the Shgun, who served the Emperor. It was regarded as the correct behavior, one that guaranteed peace and tranquility. Everyone from Bakufu bureaucrat, 6

to general, to daimy, to samurai, to merchant, craftsman, artist, or farmer, was responsible for carrying it out. Still, Yoshida saw flaws in this system, even before the arrival of Commodore Perry on Japans shores. He and other samurai felt that some of the lords and samurai in the upper echelons of government had turned their backs on Bushid, and instead, had grown vane and self-indulgent. He felt that they led luxurious lives ...wearing silk brocades, eating costly foods, keeping company with beautiful women... Such a life-style was particularly distressing to Shin in view of natural disasters, including wide famine that too often had gone unaided or unrelieved by the Tokugawa government. He wrote:
Nowadays all people live selfishly and seek only leisure time in which to indulge their own desires. They look upon all the beauties of nature, the rivers and mountains, the wind and the moon, as if it was their own to enjoy and forget what the shrine of the Sun Goddess stands for. The common man thinks of his life as his own and refuses to perform his duty to his lord. The samurai regards his household as his own private possession and refuses to sacrifice his life for his state. The feudal lords regard their domains as their own and refuse to serve the Emperor and nation, and at home, they cherish only the objects of their desire, while abroad they willingly yield to the foreign barbarians, inviting defeat and destruction. Thus, the scenic beauties they enjoy will not long remain in their possession. As things stand now, the daimy are content to look on while the Shgunate carries on in a cavalier way. Neither the lords nor the Shgun can be depended on, and so our only hope lies in heroes from the masses. When I consider the state of things in our fief, I find that those who hold official positions and receive official stipends are incapable of the highest loyalty and patriotic service. Loyalty of the unusual sort, perhaps, but if it is true loyalty and service one seeks, then one must abandon this fief and plan an uprising of the common man.

Ever curious, young Shin developed wanderlust and his twentieth year found him on the move. He visited many cities in the western part of Japan including Nagasaki. It was there that he met the Dutch traders who were based on the island of Dejima15. There he actually managed to go on board one of their vessels and made 7

notes of every detail he possibly could. He also had the opportunity to study Chinese with an interpreter named Cheng Kan-Chieh and frequently visited the homes of both Chinese and Dutch residents.

Later, another trip took him to the north of Japan; first to Edo and then to Mito, where he visited a school that was already loudly proclaiming the view that Japan had a divine mission to turn back the West and to establish its own world empire under the legitimate rule of the Emperor. Things were beginning to change within Japan. Unfortunately for Yoshida, there were very strong regulations regarding domestic travel, which he, in what he called his first audacious act, had violated. Indeed, he had been reckless in his behavior; yet, he had already come to regard himself as a person with unique foresight that required him to act outside of the accepted norms of society. For his uniqueness, he was ordered back to Hagi where the provincial government stripped him of his samurai rank and income. He did, however, have a guardian angel in the person 8

of the daimy, who not only reversed the decision but also give Shin ten years in which to travel and study. Now free, he headed back to Edo where he encountered two extremely strong influences on his life and thinking: Sakuma Shzan16 and Yokoi Shnan17. From Yokoi, Yoshida learned that lately the foreign countries have made great headway and they have invaded many countries of the east; soon, the foreign poison will reach Japan and the whole country is greatly worried and confused. Sakuma encouraged Yoshida and his other students of Western learning to go abroad and study, despite an edict to the contrary.

Yoshida was present in Edo in 1853 when Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry18 arrived in Uraga Harbor19 (now Toky Bay). This was not the first time, however, that Japan had seen Americans or American ships. Between 1797 and 1809 numerous American vessels had traded in Nagasaki under the flag of the Dutch, who were by decree, the only foreigners allowed direct trade with the Japanese, with the exception of China. This occurred when the Dutch were unable to send their own ships due to their conflict with Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1837 an American businessman from Canton named Charles 9

W. King sought to open trade with Japan by attempting to return three Japanese sailors, one of them a man named Otokichi20, who had been shipwrecked several years earlier on the coast of the State of Washington. Unfortunately for King, and perhaps fortunately for Otokichi (who probably would have been executed upon his return to Japan), the ship they traveled in was attacked in the Uraga Channel and sailed away without completing Kings intended mission.

In 1846, Commander James Biddle, who was sent by the United States government to open trade, anchored his two ships (including a warship armed with seventy-two cannons) in Uraga Bay. His numerous requests for meetings with the Tokugawa Shgunate and discussion of a trade agreement were denied and he too left Japan. Again, two years later, Captain James Glynn sailed to Dejima in Nagasaki where he was at last able to begin what could be termed the first successful negotiations with Japan. Upon his return home, Glynn recommended to Congress that negotiations to open Japan should be backed by a demonstration of force. This became Perrys mission. 10

Perry arrived on July 8, 1853 backed by an armada of heavily armed warships. He had not come unprepared for his mission, having readied himself by studying records and accounts of previous contacts with Japan by Western ships, as well as everything that could be learned about the Japanese government and its hierarchy. Perry did meet with representatives of the Tokugawa government, who directed him to go to Nagasaki where there was limited trade with the Dutch. He, however, refused to leave and instead demanded permission to deliver personally a letter to the Shgun from then President Millard Fillmore, at the same time, threatening a naval bombardment if he was denied. The Bakufu found that they were in no military position to resist the weapons that the Commodore had brought with him (what later came to be known as the Black Ships). Perry landed at Kurihama (Yokosuka) on July 14th and presented his letter to the Japanese delegates present there. Thus satisfied, Perry left for China with the promise to return soon for the Japanese reply. 11

Yoshida was again present in February of 1854 when Commodore Perry returned, this time with twice as many ships, beginning fifteen years of bloody turbulence for Japan. Shin had learned from Shzan of the absolute futility in challenging the modern military power of the West with Japans great, but comparatively ancient arts and tools of war. He had adopted as his own the belief that one must know the enemy in order to control the barbarians through their own technology, and refused to remain idle as matters unfolded. On March 31, 1854, under what could only be considered military blackmail, the representatives of the Shgun concluded negotiations with Perry and signed the Convention of Kanagawa21. A few days later Perrys ships lay in the harbor of Shimoda22, one of two ports that, under the terms of the new treaty, were now open to American ships. Yoshida and another samurai friend from Chsh, Kaneko Shigenosuke (1831 - 1855), quickly made their way there and sought to get on board one of the vessels. Because he was a proper Japanese gentleman, Shin first presented a letter to some American officers on land, asking to be let on board. Perry himself described the encounter: 12

[Shin and his companion] were observed to be men of some position and rank, as each wore the two swords characteristic of distinction and were dressed in wide but short trousers of rich silk brocade. Their manners showed the usual courtly refinement of the better classes, but they exhibited the embarrassment of men who evidently were not perfectly at their ease, and were about doing something of dubious propriety. They cast their eyes stealthily about as if to assure themselves that none of their countrymen were at hand to observe their proceedings, and then approaching one of the officers, and pretending to admire his watch chain, slipped a piece of folded paper into the breast pocket of his coat. The letter (actually two letters), titled T-i sho (A Letter to the Barbarians) was written in Mandarin with a high level of fluency and elegance. It was subsequently taken to Perrys interpreter and found to be both humble in its nature and at the same time compelling: Two scholars from Edo, in Japan, present this letter for the inspection of the high officers and those who manage affairs. Our accomplishments are few and petty, as we ourselves are small and unimportant, so that we are embarrassed in coming before you; we are neither skilled in the use of arms, nor are we able to speak on the rules of strategy and military discipline, in petty pursuits and idle pastimes our years and months have slipped away. We have, however, read books and learned a little by report, what the customs and education in Europe and America are, and we have been for many years desirous of going over the five great continents, but the laws of our country in all maritime points are very strict; for foreigners to come into the country and for natives to go abroad, are both immutably forbidden. Our wish to visit other regions has consequently only gone to and fro in our breasts in continual agitation, like ones breathing being impeded or his walking cramped. Happily, the arrival of so many of your ships in these waters, and stay for so many days, which has given us opportunity to make a pleasing acquaintance and careful examination, so that we are fully assured of the kindness and generosity of your excellences, and your regard for others, has also revived the thoughts of many years, and they are urgent for a release. 13

This, then, is the time to carry the plan into execution, and we now secretly send you this private request, that you will take us on board your ships as they go out to sea; we can thus visit around the five great continents, even if we do this in violation of the prohibitions of our own country. Lest those who have the management of affairs may feel some dismay at this, in order to affect our desire, we are willing to serve in any way we can on board of the ships, and obey the orders given us. For doubtless it is, that when a lame man sees others walking, he wishes to walk too; but how shall the pedestrian gratify his desires when he sees another riding? We have all our lives been going hither and yon, unable to get more than thirty degrees east and west, or twenty-five degrees north and south; but now, when we see how you sail on the winds and cleave the huge waves, going lightning speed thousands and innumerable miles, skirting along the five great continents, can it not be likened to the lame finding a plan for walking, and the pedestrian seeing a mode by which he can ride? If you who manage affairs will give our request your consideration, we will retain the sense of the favor; but the prohibitions of our country are still existent, and if this matter should become known, we should uselessly see ourselves pursued and brought back for immediate execution without fail, and such a result would greatly grieve the deep humanity and kindness you all bear towards others. If you are willing to agree to this request, keep 14

wrapped in silence our error in making it until you are about to leave, in order to avoid all risk of such serious danger to life; for when, bye-and-bye, we come back, our countrymen will never think it worthwhile to investigate bygone doings. Although our words have only loosely let our thoughts leak out, yet truly they are sincere; and if your excellences are pleased to regard them kindly, do not doubt them nor oppose our wishes. We together pay our respects in handing this in. April 11 (March 8, 1854 for the lunar calendar) The second note, which restated the Japanese prohibition against foreign travel and its consequences, also contained a plan of sorts, for accomplishing their goal:

We two would like to see the world. Please allow us to board your ship in secret. However, going to foreign countries is strictly forbidden in Japan and we would be in extreme trouble if you inform the 15

Japanese officials about this. If your admiral will consent to our goal, it is our hope that you will send a boat to the shore of Kakizaki Village at midnight tomorrow to meet us. April 18, 1854 (Kinoetora, March 22)
ICHIGI KDA [Kaneko Shigenosuke], KWANOUCHI MANJI [Yoshida]

Access to the American ships was graciously denied the young Japanese; however, not to be dissuaded or ignored, the pair hid on the shore in a cave and later ventured out to the fleet in a boat. Commodore Perry never knew the name Yoshida Shin, his identity, and fate; yet, he was impressed by the young mans daring attempt to defy Japanese law enough to write about it: ...the officer of the mid-watch on board the steamer Mississippi was aroused by a voice from a boat alongside, and upon going to the gangway, found a couple of Japanese, who had mounted the ladder at 16

the ship's side, and being confronted, made signs expressive of a desire to be admitted on board. They seemed very eager to be allowed to remain and showed a very strong determination not to return to the shore. Turned back by Perry's sailors, the pair was shortly thereafter arrested by Bakufu troops and literally caged. [They were] immured in one of the usual places of confinement, a kind of cage, barred in front and very restricted in capacity. They seemed to bear their misfortune with great equanimity, and were greatly pleased apparently with the visit of the American officers, in whose eyes they evidently were desirous of appearing to advantage. On one of the visitors approaching the cage, the Japanese wrote on a piece of board that was handed to them the following, which, as a remarkable specimen of philosophical resignation under circumstances which would have tried the stoicism of Cato, deserves a recored.23

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When a hero fails in his purpose, his acts are then regarded as those of a villain or robber. In public have we been seized, bound, and caged for many days. The village elders and head men treat us with disdain and their oppression has been grievous indeed. Therefore looking up while yet we have nothing wherewith to reproach ourselves, it must now be seen whether a hero will prove himself to be one indeed. Regarding the liberty of going through the sixty States are not enough for our desires, we wished to make the circuit of the five great continents. This was our hearts wish for a long time. Suddenly our plans are defeated, and we find ourselves in a half-sized house, where eating, resting, sitting, and sleeping are difficult. How can we find our exit from this place? Weeping, we seem like fools; laughing like rogues. Alas! For us, silent we can only be. It is unknown if Perry ever personally received the note although his translator did. Perry did attempt to intercede on behalf of Yoshida and Kaneko and received assurances from the Bakufu that the young men did not warrant a serious termination [execution]. For his effort, the Bakufu sent Shin and Kaneko to jail. Yoshida was sent first to Demma-cho prison in Edo for a term of 150 days and later was placed under house arrest at the Edo home of his daimy. That December, Shin and his friend were sent to Hagi: Yoshida to Noyama prison for another year and Kaneko to Iwakura. Sadly, Kaneko would never taste freedom again and died in March of the following year. While in jail in Edo and later in Hagi, Yoshida actually ran a school within the prison. His was a new way of teaching. According to accounts, he would go around the jail and interview each man in order to discover what his talents were. Then Yoshida would arrange to have that man give classes to the others. One man was a master of haiku, another Chinese philosophy, and another military tactics. By doing this, Shin was able to restore the personal pride of the prisoners and to alter the mood of the prison itself. Accounts also say that while imprisoned in Edo, Shin read as many as 618 books. Even prison walls could not stifle his quest for knowledge. 18

Ultimately, Yoshida was released from confinement and again placed under house arrest: to remain within the confines of the city. He took over the operation of his fathers small school, the Shoka Sonjuku, and transformed it into a highly successful, although unorthodox, academy. While in prison Shin had written that in order for Japan to remain a free nation, it must itself be stronger and must recruit men of talent and ability, without regard to class distinction. Among the reforms, he advocated and put into effect in his school was the acceptance of students on the basis of achievement rather than by hereditary rank as was the custom. At the Shoka Sonjuku, he lectured in the traditional ways only occasionally, preferring to instead to instruct by the Socratic Method. He would often give out different texts to different students, including philosophy, literature, and novels. Sometimes Yoshida would teach out in the fields with his students pulling weeds at the same time; thus, helping him with his farming chores. Among his students were Takasugi Shinsaku24 and It Hirobumi25. Despite his humanity, Shin continued fervently to warn of the threats that faced Japan. With that in mind, he would also drill his students and local farmers in close-order military drills, often using sticks in place of rifles. This drilling of both common people and samurai as a unit was a preview of the mixed shotai rifle companies that would later prove so effective against the Shguns troops. From within his school Yoshida also laid the foundations of a political organization that would lead to rebellion. He started his own newspaper called Flying Ears, Long Eyes, partly in reference to his news sources. Confined to Hagi, Yoshida sent his students out to travel Japan and gain information about what was happening throughout the country. Call them reporters, investigators or spies, his students were quite happy and most effective in keeping their esteemed teacher well informed. In the summer of 1865, the American Envoy, Townsend Harris26, established the first American Consulate in Japan at a Buddhist temple in Shimoda with the mission of negotiating the first 19

diplomatic/commercial/maritime treaty between the United States and Japan. Political protocols dictated that the Tokugawa Shgunate could only sign a treaty after receiving permission from the Emperor in Kyoto. As negotiations between Townsend and the Japanese progressed, albeit slowly, opposition began to spread rapidly among the proponents of the sonn-ji27 movement, bent on expelling the socalled barbarians and rally together in favor of Imperial rule, calling themselves Imperial Loyalists. The Imperial Loyalists claimed that the Tokugawa Shgun was merely an agent of the Emperor and whose function, as decreed early in the 17th century, was to protect Japan from foreign invasion, with the true political base resting with the Emperor. They maintained that the only way Tokugawa Iemochi could justify his rule was to expel the foreigners and argued further that, because the Shgun was obviously no longer capable of fulfilling his ancient duty, the Emperor and his court had to be restored to power in order to save the nation. In direct opposition to sonn-ji or Imperial Loyalists were the advocates of opening the country, led by the powerful Lord Ii Naosuke28 of Hikone.

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The overall effect was that the government of Japan took on a de facto, two-fold configuration: while the Shgun continued to rule from Edo, the Imperial Court was undergoing a political renaissance in Kyoto, increasing its own power and influence. When the Shgun and Bakufu submitted their petition to the Emperor to approve the treaty that had been negotiated with Townsend Harris, it was flatly denied.

In April of 1858, Ii Naosuke was appointed to the position of Regent to the Shgun, Tokugawa Iesada; thus, making him in effect not just the Shguns head councilor but also the real head of the military government. In June, Naosuke unilaterally sanctioned the treaty with the United States, starting into motion events that could neither be stopped nor reversed: events that would have a profound effect on both Japan and Yoshida Shin. As samurai throughout Japan began to unify and call for the killing of the traitors who had opened the country to the barbarians, Shin ever a samurai yet one of the brush rather than the 21

sword, maintained a clear head and encouraged moderation. He advocated Imperial Loyalism to the young men of Chsh, professing that the Emperor was the true ruler of Japan, and opening his students minds to the dangerous situation the outside world posed to their country. On the other hand, Yoshida continued to support the Shgun and favored opening the country in order to enhance the nation and develop a strong military. He, in fact, advocated a union between the Emperor in Kyto and the Tokugawa Shgunate in Edo, to protect Japan from the threat of foreign domination. When word reached Shin that Ii Naosuke had completed the treaty with the United States, he made a complete turnaround in his political posture and became one of Japans most radical supports of sonn-ji: Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians. He felt that it had now become his mission to correct and gain atonement for what he saw as Naosukes crime against the Emperor. He made the decision to become involved in a plot with samurai from other clans, to kill Naosuke; but previous to that, to assassinate a Tokugawa councilor who had been sent to Kyto in order to gain Imperial approval for the American treaty. Shins plans were never to be realized. He did lead the beginnings of a revolt and called upon local ronin29 to help him: If the plan is to be carried out, it can be done only with the men from the grassroots. Wearing silk brocades, eating posh foods, carrying on with beautiful women and fondling children are the only things hereditary officials care about. To revere the Emperor and expel the barbarians is of no concern to them. If this time it is my misfortune to die, then may my death inspire at least one or two men of strong will to rise up and uphold this principle after my death. In the end, he received very little support. Not to be deterred, Shin and a small band of students attacked and attempted to kill Manob Norikatsu, Naosukes envoy to Kyto without success. That was the end of his revolt. Now regarded by the Chsh authorities as 22

a threat and a dangerous radical, he was again imprisoned in Hagi. Though behind bars, he refused to compromise his ideals and instead grew increasingly defiant. To a friend he wrote, I am sorry to say, but that I have no use for the Imperial Court, the Shgunate, or our clan. The only thing I now need is my own meager body. At the same time, Ii Naosuke had begun a dragnet of sonn-ji members throughout Japan. In May of 1859, the daimy of Chsh received orders from Edo that he was to send his most dangerous insurgent, Yoshida Shin, to the capitol. Yoshida was transported in a small cage to prison in Edo, with many of his students following along the way. During a stop for rest he wrote: This is the journey From which probably For me there shall be no return, Wholly drenched Is the pine tree of tears. Shin arrived at Edo in June and was immediately locked away. Repeatedly questioned by the Bakufu authorities, he was defiant of their authority and readily confessed to the charges made against him. He openly expressed his contempt for the rule of Naosuke and the suppression of Imperial Loyalists. Yoshida even went so far as to divulge openly his assassination plans. His fate was sealed. Even then, he did not expect to die. He continued to occupy himself with planning the revolution to come. Perhaps a bit smugly he wrote, I dont know what my punishment will be but I dont think it will be execution. After all, his assassination plans had never been carried out and he had voluntarily confessed. Reality struck in mid-October when three of his comrades were indeed put to death. Shin realized his end was also close at hand. On October 15, he wrote a poem as a testament to his students and Japan:

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Kaku sureba Kaku naru mono to Shiri nagara Yamu ni yamarenu Yamato-damashii That such an act Would have such a result I knew well enough. What made me do it anyhow Was the spirit of Yamato.30 As was the custom, he also wrote two death poems, the first for his parents: Oya wo om Kokoro ni masaru Oyagokoro Ky no otozure Ika ni kikuran? The sons solicitude for his mother Is surpassed by Her solicitude for him. When she hears what befell me today, How will she take it?

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For the world and history he wrote: Mi wa tatoi Musashi no nobe ni Kuchinu tomo Todome okamashi Yamato-damashii Though my corpse rot Beneath the ground Of Musashi My soul remains forever Japanese Yoshida was executed almost ten years before the Sonjuku32 leadership was able to complete the rebellion that Yoshida had called for. Though referred to as the Meiji Restoration, it was much more than that. The years following Shins death were bloody and costly: Japan lost many of its best and brightest, many from among Yoshidas own students. Ultimately rifle units, like those he drilled with sticks in the fields by the Shoka Sonjuku, and led by his student Shinsaku Takasuei, proved successful. Consisting of samurai fighting alongside farmer, merchants and craftsmen, and using secretly obtained weapons from the American Civil War, the militia won their civil war in Chsh and then marched on to fight against the samurai of the Shgun. In the end, almost all of the survivors of the Sonjuku army became officials of the new Meiji government. Today, one hundred and fifty years later, their names are still both familiar and honored by Japanese: men such as It Hirobumi who became the nations first Prime Minister, and who wrote a constitution that ended feudalism and guaranteed many individual rights; men such as Yamagata 25

Aritomo who created a modern army, or Maebara Issei who became a Minister of Defense. Japan was forever changed. The new government adopted a Western-style parliamentary system of governing; Western science provided railroads, telegraphs, a postal system and modern weapons. The feudal domains were turned into prefectures, governors replaced the daimy, and the age of the samurai forever came to an end. As the Emperor Meiji wrote: May our country, Taking what is good, And rejecting what is bad, Be not inferior to any other.

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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

KAKEMONO OF YOSHIDA SHIN.................................................................. Cover PHOTOGRAPH OF SHIN SHORTLY BEFORE HIS DEATH ...................Frontpiece THE SHOKA SONJUKU (VILLAGE SCHOOL UNDER THE PINES) ....................... 3 DEJIMA, NAGASAKI C. 1800 ..................................................................................... 8 SAKUMA SHZAN AND YOKOI SHNAN .............................................................. 9 YAMAMOTO OTOKICHI, C. 1846 ........................................................................... 10 COMMODORE PERRY,C. 1854 ................................................................................ 11 PERRYS JAPANESE FLEET (1853) .......................................................................... 12 YOSHIDA SHINS FIRST LETTER TO PERRY ...................................................... 14 YOSHIDA SHINS SECOND LETTER TO PERRY ................................................ 15 THE CAVE WHERE SHIN AND HIS COMPANION HID .................................... 16 COPY OF THE NOTE WRITTEN BY SHIN ON A PIECE OF WOOD ................ 17 LORD II NAOSUKE .................................................................................................. 20 TOWNSEND HARRIS ................................................................................................ 21

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NOTES
The katana is the longer of the two swords normally carried by a samurai, commonly referred to simply as a samurai sword in the West.
1

Bakufu () refers to the government of the Shgun; the actual governmental apparatus or bureaucracy.
2

Tokugawa Ieyasu seized power and established a government at Edo (now Toky) in 1600. He received the title sei-i taishgun (Commander of Armies) in 1603 after he forged a family tree to show he was of Minamoto descent. The Tokugawa Shgunate lasted until 1867, when Tokugawa Yoshinobu resigned as Shgun and abdicated his authority to Emperor Meiji. During the Edo period, effective power rested with the Shgun, not the Emperor in Kyto, even though the former ostensibly owed his position to the latter. The Shgun controlled foreign policy, the military, and feudal patronage. The role of the Emperor was ceremonial, similar to the position of the Japanese monarchy after the Second World War.
3

Ishin Shishi (; sometimes known as , shin-shishi) was a term used to describe Japanese political activists of the late Edo period. The term shishi literally translates as men of high purpose. While it is usually applied to the antiShgunate, pro-sonn ji () samurai, primarily from the southwestern clans of Satsuma, Chsh, and Tosa, the term shishi is also used by some with reference to supporters of the Shgunate who held similar sonn-ji views. There were many different varieties of shishi. Some, such as the assassins Kawakami Gensai, Nakamura Hanjiro, Okada Izo, and Tanaka Shinbei, opted for a more violent approach in asserting their views. Kawakami Gensai, in particular, is remembered as the assassin of Sakuma Shzan, a renowned pro-Western thinker of the time. Other more radical shishi, such as Miyabe Teiz, plotted large-scale attacks with little regard for public safety. Miyabe himself was one of the ringleaders of the plot, foiled by the Shinsengumi at the Ikeda-ya Incident, to burn Kyto at the height of the Gion Festival. Shishi from Mito were responsible for the death of Grand Councilor Ii Naosuke, who was a signatory to treaties that favored foreign nations, and who had placed an underage boy on the shgunal throne.
4

The Meiji Restoration () or Meiji Ishin, was a chain of events the culminated in vast changes within both the Japanese political and social structures, which occurred in the in the second half of the nineteenth century from 1862 to 1869. This historic episode included the late Edo period (Bakumatsu ()), and the end of the Tokugawa Shgunate, as well as the return to full power of the Emperor and the beginning of the Meiji era.
5

The koku (/) was a Japanese unit of volume equal to ten cubic shaku. 3.5937 koku are equal to one cubic meter. As originally defined, the koku was the amount
6

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of rice necessary to feed one person for one year. Kenjutsu (), meaning the art of the sword, is a term for classical Japanese sword arts, in particular those which predate the Meiji Restoration. It is sometimes used more generally to describe any martial art that makes use of the Japanese sword.
7

Jujutsu () literally means the art of softness, or way of yielding. It is a collective name for Japanese martial art styles including unarmed and armed techniques. Jujutsu evolved among the samurai of feudal Japan as a method for defeating an armed and armored opponent without weapons. Due to the ineffectiveness of striking against an armored opponent, the most efficient methods for neutralizing an enemy took the form of pins, joint locks, and throws, developed around the principle of using an attackers own energy against him, rather than directly opposing it.
8

Yamaga Sok () (September 21, 1622 October 23, 1685) was a Japanese strategist and philosopher during the late Edo Period. He was an ardent Confucian and is noted for applying Confucius concept of the superior man to the samurai class. This was an important factor in samurai life and Bushid. By adapting Confucian principles to their own needs, scholars of the late Tokugawa period professed a rejection of the Shguns authority. Sok was the first major figure of that time to break from official orthodox thought. He wrote a series of papers on the warriors creed or buky and the way of the gentleman, shid, which address the lofty mission of the warrior class as well as its obligations. His view of Bushid was a rewording and codification of past historical works, holding the Emperor as the focal point of all loyalty.
9

For more information on Bushid refer to The Annotated Bushido, by Nitobe Inaz, Edited by H. Tokugawa, 2009, Shisei-D Publications.
10

Sun Tzu () is considered to be the author of The Art of War, an ancient and highly influential book on military strategy and a primary example of Taoist thought. Tradition says that he lived in China during the Spring and Autumn Period (722 481 BC).
11

Tamaki Bunnonshin was Yoshidas uncle, a samurai and teacher, who had a direct influence on the boys development.
13

Mencius () (372 - 289 BC) was a Chinese philosopher who is widely considered the most famous Confucian philosopher after Confucius himself. He was an itinerant sage, and one of the principal interpreters of Confucianism. Like Confucius, according to legend, he travelled China for forty years to offer advice to rulers for reform. Menciu' interpretation of Confucianism was generally considered to be the orthodox version by subsequent Chinese philosophers, especially the Neo-Confucians of the Song dynasty. The Mencius (Mengzi or Meng-tzu), a book of
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his conversations with kings of the time, is one of the Four Books that Zhu Xi grouped as the core of orthodox Neo-Confucian thought. In contrast to the sayings of Confucius, which are short and self-contained, the Mencius consists of long dialogues, including arguments, with broad text. While Confucius himself did not explicitly focus on the subject of human nature, Mencius stressed the innate goodness of the individual, believing that it was societys influence (its lack of a positive cultivating influence) that caused bad moral integrity. He who exerts his mind to the utmost knows his nature and the way of learning is none other than finding the lost mind. Dejima () was a fan-shaped artificial island in the Bay of Nagasaki used as a Dutch trading port during Japans sakoku or self-imposed isolation in the Edo Period.
15

Sakuma Shzan () (March 22, 1811 August 12, 1864) was a Japanese politician and scholar of the Edo period. Beginning in 1842, following the defeat of China by the British in the Opium War, and the spread of Western influence in Asia, he actively proposed the study and introduction of Western military methods to the Bakufu. His writing brought him wide notoriety and he became the teacher of future leaders in the transformation of Japan: Yoshida Shin, Katsu Kaish and Sakamoto Ryma. When Shin was convicted of attempting to board one of Perrys warships, Sakuma was also arrested and sentenced to house arrest by way of association. Nine years later, upon his release, Sakuma continued to advocate the opening of Japanese ports to foreign trade as well as the strengthening of the Shgunate through collaboration with the Emperor. He was assassinated for his views in 1864.
16

Yokoi Shnan () (September 22, 1809 February 15, 1869) was a scholar and political reformer of the late Edo period and early Meiji period, who called for a complete reform of the Tokugawa government including a reconciliation between the Shgun and the Emperor. He called for the complete opening of Japan to foreign trade, economic reforms, and the establishing of a modern military based on Western weaponry and techniques. He also called for a national assembly of the major daimy, with the Shgun becoming something similar to a Prime Minister. Japanese conservatives were both outraged and astounded by these radical ideas and the Bakufu quickly acted to strip Yokoi of his government posts and status as a samurai. In addition, he was placed under house arrest, which lasted until the Meiji Restoration, when he was freed by the new government and honored with the title and position of a sanyo or councilor. He was assassinated in 1869 by a conservative samurai who suspected him of being a Christian and of being secretly in favor of the establishment of a republic in Japan.
17

Matthew Calbraith Perry (April 10, 1794 March 4, 1858) was the naval commodore and emissary from the United States, who by means of military threat and intimidation, compelled the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention
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of Kanagawa in 1854. He died in New York City in 1858 of cirrhosis of the liver due to chronic alcoholism. Uraga () is a town as well as a harbor at the entrance to Toky Bay, located on the eastern side of the Miura Peninsula at the northern end of the Uraga Channel. Due to its strategic location at the entrance of Edo Bay, Uraga was often the first point of contact between visiting foreign ships and Japan. On July 14, 1853, Commodore Perry dropped anchor in front of the town. Now a modern municipality, the town of Uraga in Kanagawa Prefecture, was merged with Yokosuka in 1943 and now is regarded as a bedroom community for people working in Yokohama and Toky.
19

Yamamoto Otokichi ( ) (1818 January 1867) was a Japanese castaway shipwrecked on the coast of Washington in 1834, who is regarded by many as being the first Japanese American. He is known to have returned to Japan three times primarily as a translator, in 1837, 1849, and again in 1854 were he was a member of the British Fleet which docked at Nagasaki and negotiated and signed the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty.
20

On March 31, 1854, Commodore Matthew C. Perry and Japan agreed to the Convention of Kanagawa or Kanagawa Treaty. The treaty opened the Japanese ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to American trade, guaranteed the safety of shipwrecked U.S. sailors, and established the presence of a permanent American consulate.
21

Shimoda () is a city and port in Shizuoka Prefecture, which played an important part in the opening of Japan to the outside world in the 1850s. The city is located at the southern tip of the Izu peninsula about 60 miles southwest of Toky.
22

Samuel Wells Williams (September 22, 1812February 16, 1884), First Interpreter for the Perry expedition, was an inveterate record keeper throughout his life. In his later years, he served Professor of Chinese language and literature at Yale, a position newly created to turn his decades-long experience in China as a missionary journalist and diplomat to advantage.
23

Takasugi Shinsaku ( ) (September 12, 1839 May 17, 1867) was a samurai from Chsh who made significant contributions to the Meiji Restoration. He was well known for his military talents and his skill as a politician who put all of his effort into opening the way for the modernization and reform of Japan. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the results of his efforts, dying of tuberculosis in 1867.
24

Prince It Hirobumi ( ) (October 16, 1841 October 26, 1909) was a Japanese statesman, Resident-General of Korea, and four-time Prime Minister of Japan (the first, fifth, seventh, and tenth) as well as an honored Elder Statesman or
25

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genr. He was assassinated by An Jung-Geun, a Korean Nationalist who was against the annexation of Korea by Japan. Townsend Harris (October 3, 1804 1878) was a merchant and minor politician from New York City. He was the first United States Consul General to Japan, first in Shimoda and then in Edo. He successfully negotiated the Harris Treaty between American and Japan and is credited with being the diplomat who first opened the Japanese Empire to foreign trade and culture. While living in Japan, he gained the respect and affection of many of the Japanese people and is still honored in Japan. He is also noted for his romance with a Japanese woman, possibly a geisha named Okichi, that has become the subject of numerous stories and a romanticized 1958 film by John Huston, The Barbarian and the Geisha, staring John Wayne. It is said that after Townsend's return to the United States she committed suicide.
26

Sonn-ji (), Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians, was a Japanese political philosophy and social movement with its roots in Neo-Confucianism. It became the political slogan in the 1850s and 1860s of the principal movement to overthrow the Tokugawa Bakufu. After the Meiji Restoration, the slogan was dropped and replaced by Fukoku Kyhei () or Rich Country, Strong Military.
27

Ii Naosuke () (November 29, 1815 March 24, 1860) was the daimy of Hikone from 1850 to 1860 and also Regent of the Tokugawa Shgunate from April 23, 1858 until his death. He is most noted for his signing of the Harris Treaty with the United States. He was also an enthusiastic and accomplished student and practitioner of the Sekish-ry school of the Japanese tea ceremony and penned two books on the subject. He was assassinated on March 24, 1860.
28

A ronin (,) was a samurai with no lord or master. During the late Edo period, many samurai abandoned their daimy to follow the Snn-ji movement and were thus regarded as ronin.
29

Yamato or Yamato-damashii () or The Japanese Spirit is a historical and cultural term in the Japanese language. The phrase was coined in the Heian period for an indigenous spirit which was shown to best light when polished by education in Chinese classic literature and arts. Edo period writers and samurai used it to denote the Bushid concept of valor. English translations of Yamatodamashii include the Japanese spirit, Japanese soul, Yamato spirit, and The Soul of Old Japan. Lafcadio Hearn mentions the latter in connection with Shint: For this national type of moral character was invented the name Yamato-damashii (or Yamato-gokoro), the Soul of Yamato (or Heart of Yamato), the appellation of the old province of Yamato, seat of the early Emperors, being figuratively used for the entire country. We might correctly, though less literally, interpret the expression Yamato-damashii as The Soul of Old Japan.
30 32

The sonjuku were soldier/citizen armies that fought against the Tokugawa

33

Shgunate at the end of the Edo period, helping to bring about the Meiji Restoration.

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