Episode 122 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 6

This week, we explore the beginnings of opposition against the bakufu. The Harris Treaty will prove deeply divisive, and before long two factions of daimyo will develop opposing and supporting it. Locked in a stalemate, the two sides turn to a place that had been isolated from politics for nearly 1000 years: the imperial court and its young emperor Komei in Kyoto.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration

Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Images

Hotta Masayoshi, as head of the roju, negotiated the treaty with American consul-general Townsend Harris. However, thanks to the meddling of Shimazu Nariakira and Tokugawa Nariaki, the treaty was condemned by the Emperor. Hotta was forced to resign in disgrace.
Hotta Masayoshi, as head of the roju, negotiated the treaty with American consul-general Townsend Harris. However, thanks to the meddling of Shimazu Nariakira and Tokugawa Nariaki, the treaty was condemned by the Emperor. Hotta was forced to resign in disgrace.
Caught in the middle when politics came to Kyoto in 1858 was young Emperor Komei. Komei was generally sympathetic to anti-treaty ideas, but also politically naive and inexperienced.
Caught in the middle when politics came to Kyoto in 1858 was young Emperor Komei. Komei was generally sympathetic to anti-treaty ideas, but also politically naive and inexperienced.
Young Tokugawa Iemochi, the favorite of the fudai daimyo, became the new shogun in 1858 with the help of Hotta Masayoshi. Pliant to his advisors, Iemochi will be a relative nonentity for his time in office.
Young Tokugawa Iemochi, the favorite of the fudai daimyo, became the new shogun in 1858 with the help of Hotta Masayoshi. Pliant to his advisors, Iemochi will be a relative nonentity for his time in office.
Tokugawa Yoshinobu was the favorite for the position of shogun among the tozama and shimpan daimyo in 1858; as a bright 20 year old in the prime of his life, he was felt to be far preferable to the 12 year old Iemochi. He would lose out this time, but this is not the last we will see of young Yoshinobu.
Tokugawa Yoshinobu was the favorite for the position of shogun among the tozama and shimpan daimyo in 1858; as a bright 20 year old in the prime of his life, he was felt to be far preferable to the 12 year old Iemochi. He would lose out this time, but this is not the last we will see of young Yoshinobu.

Episode 121 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 5

his week, we’re going to stop the forward progress of the narrative and focus on two men who are going to have a large impact on the massive political realignment that’s coming down the tubes, though they themselves will not live to see it: Sakuma Shozan and Yoshida Shoin. We’ll use them to try to answer the question of just how radical the most radical elements in 1850s Japan really were.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Van Straelen, Heinrichus. Yoshida Shoin and the Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. Toward Restoration.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

The Sources of the Japanese Tradition, Vol 2: “Reflections on my Errors” by Sakuma Shozan, and “On Heroism” by Yoshida Shoin.

Images

A statue of Yoshida Shoin (kneeling) and Sakuma Shozan at Uraga, a village on the outskirts of Edo from which Yoshida struck out on his fateful attempt to stow away aboard the American fleet in 1854.
A statue of Yoshida Shoin (kneeling) and Sakuma Shozan at Uraga, a village on the outskirts of Edo from which Yoshida struck out on his fateful attempt to stow away aboard the American fleet in 1854.
Sakuma Shozan in the early 1860s.
Sakuma Shozan in the early 1860s.
Yoshida Shoin.
Yoshida Shoin.
Yoshida's school in Choshu Domain in Southwestern Honshu, called the Shoka Sonjuku.
Yoshida’s school in Choshu Domain in Southwestern Honshu, called the Shoka Sonjuku.

Episode 120 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 4

This week, we’ll explore Japanese reactions to Perry and his successor, the new US Consul in Japan Townsend Harris. As the foreign powers begin to muscle their way more and more into Japan, battle lines between two opposing camps with different visions of Japan’s future will be drawn. Things haven’t come apart yet, but we’re now officially on the road to Tokugawa collapse.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

W.G. Beasley, The Meiji Restoration

Albert Craig, Choshu and the Meiji Restoration

Marius Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan

Images

Shimoda in 1856.
Shimoda in 1856.
Townsend Harris, the American businessman who became the first resident US Consul General in Shimoda and who negotiated the Harris Treaty in 1858.
Townsend Harris, the American businessman who became the first resident US Consul General in Shimoda and who negotiated the Harris Treaty in 1858.
Hotta Masayoshi took over as leader of the roju after Abe Masayoshi was forced to resign in disgrace. He continued Abe's policies, but like Abe lacked a certain forcefulness which held him back politically.
Hotta Masayoshi took over as leader of the roju after Abe Masayoshi was forced to resign in disgrace. He continued Abe’s policies, but like Abe lacked a certain forcefulness which held him back politically.
Tokugawa Nariaki, a shimpan daimyo and distant relative of the Tokugawa main line, came to lead the anti-Treaty faction. He was lord of Mito, the domain which was home to the conservative, emperor-centered school of history and philosophy known as Mitogaku (Mito learning).
Tokugawa Nariaki, a shimpan daimyo and distant relative of the Tokugawa main line, came to lead the anti-Treaty faction. He was lord of Mito, the domain which was home to the conservative, emperor-centered school of history and philosophy known as Mitogaku (Mito learning).