This week, we take a look at the new balance of power now that the Tokugawa are gone. Who’s calling the shots? What do they want? And most importantly of all, now that the war is over, will we all be resolving our differences with calm discussion like a bunch of grownups?
Saigo Takamori in a French-inspired military uniform. Saigo’s status as a war hero made him possibly the most widely known and respected of the Meiji leaders.
Okubo Toshimichi some time during the 1860s. Okubo functionally ran Satsuma after 1868 alongside Saigo, but his ideas were far more in line with the technocrats in Choshu than with Saigo’s traditionalism.
Itagaki Taisuke was the highest ranking loyalist left in Tosa after the death of Sakamoto Ryoma. He served as Tosa’s military liason to the loyalists during the Boshin War.
Okuma Shigenobu of Hizen will become one of Japan’s leading liberals, though his advocacy for the ideas of the French Revolution was tempered by his preference for power, position, and the good things in life (like this swag jacket).
Eto Shimpei of Hizen was a traditionalist in the mold of Saigo Takamori. That’s really all you need to know about him; think Saigo but without the street cred and you’re more or less there.
The development of Hokkaido was a priority for Meiji leaders who wanted to secure the island against Russian aggression. Huge numbers of samurai, mostly from Tokugawa-aligned families, were moved north to the island with offers of land grants. Groups like this one discovered up on their arrival that the work was difficult, dangerous, and that more often than not these development projects would fail. In the end, however, they did secure the island for Japan, and Russia never made a serious attempt to claim it.
This week: the “short-lived” part of “the short-lived Ezo Republic” comes to fruition, and what is now Meiji Japan begins dealing with a new issue. Now that the Tokugawa are finally gone, what comes next?
This week, we’ll cover the military campaigns of 1868. Edo will (surprisingly anticlimactically) fall, the north will rebel, and Matsudaira Katamori’s domain of Aizu will be overrun after a brutal two month siege. In the end, only the small splinter territory of the Ezo Republic will be left standing.
In early 1868, the armies of the loyalists and the Tokugawa bakufu will clash outside Kyoto. We’ll discuss the factors that led to the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, and why what was supposed to be a walk in the park for the Tokugawa turned into a complete disaster.
This week, we cover 1867: the final year of the Tokugawa shogunate (sort of). Caught between a loyalist rock and an imperial hard place, Tokugawa Yoshinobu will consider the unthinkable: resignation, and an end to 260 years of bakufu tradition.