Episode 28 – The Great Saigo, Part 1

This week, we’ll begin another two-parter dealing with the life and death of Saigo Takamori, one of the great leaders of the Meiji Restoration. This week, we’ll discuss his rise to public prominence and subsequent fall from grace. Next week, we’ll turn to the rebellion that would end his life and his legacy in modern Japan.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Ravina, Mark. The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

A map of Japan with Kagoshima prefecture highlighted. Kagoshima prefecture's modern boundaries correspond roughly to those of the old Satsuma domain.
A map of Japan with Kagoshima prefecture highlighted. Kagoshima prefecture’s modern boundaries correspond roughly to those of the old Satsuma domain.
Kagoshima Castle, in the center of the town where Saigo was born.
Kagoshima Castle, in the center of the town where Saigo was born.
Saigo Takamori after his retirement.
Saigo Takamori after his retirement.
A daguerrotype of Shimazu Nariakira, the daimyo of Satsuma and patron of Saigo until the former's death in 1859.
A daguerrotype of Shimazu Nariakira, the daimyo of Satsuma and patron of Saigo until the former’s death in 1859.
A nishikie (woodblock print) depicting the suicide of Gessho, Saigo's companion and possible lover. After Gessho's suicide (Saigo would also attempt suicide and fail) Saigo was exiled to the island of Amami-Oshima.
A nishikie (woodblock print) depicting the suicide of Gessho, Saigo’s companion and possible lover. After Gessho’s suicide (Saigo would also attempt suicide and fail) Saigo was exiled to the island of Amami-Oshima.
Kagoshima prefecture and the islands to its southwest. Amami Oshima, where Saigo was exiled, is circled in red.
Kagoshima prefecture and the islands to its southwest. Amami Oshima, where Saigo was exiled, is circled in red.
Saigo (shown on the center right) directing his troops in the defense of Kyoto during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi at the start of the Meiji Restoration.
Saigo (shown on the center right) directing his troops in the defense of Kyoto during the Battle of Toba-Fushimi at the start of the Meiji Restoration.
Saigo after the Meiji Restoration in a uniform modeled after that of a French military officer.
Saigo after the Meiji Restoration in a uniform modeled after that of a French military officer.
The Seikanron debates, or the 1874 debates on the invasion of Korea. Saigo is shown on the center right, directly to the right of Iwakura Tomomi (who is wearing the traditional robes of a kuge aristocrat).
The Seikanron debates, or the 1874 debates on the invasion of Korea. Saigo is shown on the center right, directly to the right of Iwakura Tomomi (who is wearing the traditional robes of a kuge aristocrat).
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