Episode 11 – The End of an Era

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

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

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States, c. 1858.
Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States, c. 1858.
This Japanese woodblock print depicts Perry (center) flanked by two of his officers during their second voyage to Japan (1854).
This Japanese woodblock print depicts Perry (center) flanked by two of his officers during their second voyage to Japan (1854).
The island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay was used by the shogunate to build a gun emplacement with which to defend the harbor.  However, the inferior quality of Tokugawa weaponry compared to that of the West meant that it never could serve its purpose of warding off Western incursion.
The island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay was used by the shogunate to build a gun emplacement with which to defend the harbor. However, the inferior quality of Tokugawa weaponry compared to that of the West meant that it never could serve its purpose of warding off Western incursion.
A statue of Ii Naosuke in his hereditary domain of Hikone.
A statue of Ii Naosuke in his hereditary domain of Hikone.
The Sakuradamon Incident. Note the figure on the left escaping with the severed head of Naosuke.
The Sakuradamon Incident. Note the figure on the left escaping with the severed head of Naosuke.
The 1863 British bombardment of Kagoshima, as depicted by Le Monde. This event was one of the blows which led to the collapse of the original Sonno Joi movement and its eventual revival as a purely Emperor-focused anti-Tokugawa movement.
The 1863 British bombardment of Kagoshima, as depicted by Le Monde. This event was one of the blows which led to the collapse of the original Sonno Joi movement and its eventual revival as a purely Emperor-focused anti-Tokugawa movement.
Though some bakufu troops were modernized over the course of the 1860s, most were not. These soldiers, marching under the flags of the Tokugawa and their home province of Aizu, are an example of the latter.  By comparison, more or less the entirety of the anti-Tokugawa forces were equipped with modern weapons.
Though some bakufu troops were modernized over the course of the 1860s, most were not. These soldiers, marching under the flags of the Tokugawa and their home province of Aizu, are an example of the latter. By comparison, more or less the entirety of the anti-Tokugawa forces were equipped with modern weapons.
French-trained modern Bakufu troops on campaign in 1868.
French-trained modern Bakufu troops on campaign in 1868.
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