Episode 134 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 17

 

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?

Spoilers: no.

 

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Lu, David. Japan: A Documentary History, Vol. II.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Images

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Episode 133 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 16

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?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Images

 

Stonewall-Kotetsu
The CSN Stonewall Jackson/IJN Kotetsu-maru. Commissioned by the Confederacy and built by the French, this warship was never delivered to its original purchasers. Instead, the US government sold it to the Tokugawa, but refused to deliver it after the Boshin War broke out. Instead, they ended up transferring it to the new Imperial Navy, which deployed it against the Ezo Republic.
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One of the ships of the Ezo Republic navy shown here having run aground after the failed attempt to seize the Kotetsu-maru.
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The Battle of Hakodate.
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Another view of the battle, this one from a European sketch. The Imperial fleet is shown here blockading Hakodate.
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Hijikata Toshizo died on June 20, 1869; he was the last major Shinsengumi leader left fighting. Seven days later the Ezo Republic surrendered.
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The Emperor’s procession to Edo, 1868. After his arrival, the city would be renamed Tokyo, a name reminiscent of the imperial capitols of China. Image courtesy of Bucknell University.

Episode 132 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 15

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.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Goro, Shiba, Mahito Ishimitsu and Teruko Craig. Remembering Aizu.

Images

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A map of the major engagements of the Boshin War. Note that the dates are different on this one; that has to do with the fact that around this point, the new government was switching away from the old lunar calendar to the Western solar calendar, creating some confusion about what events happen when.
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This monument shows the site in modern Tokyo where Katsu Kaishu and Saigo Takamori sat down to negotiate the fate of the city.
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The Shogitai, shown here defending their bastion at Kan’eiji, made a futile last stand against the loyalists. Saigo Takamori crushed them with his Western style artillery.
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Troops from Sendai domain mobilize to fight the loyalists, June 1868.
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Aizu samurai defending their domain. The one on the far left is a woman; many Aizu women took up arms to defend their home against the loyalist assault.
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Pro-Tokugawa troops being shipped to Hakodate to join in Enomoto Takeaki’s rebellion.
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The vessels of the Ezo Republic navy, depicted in part here, were the greatest asset of the Ezo Republic.

Episode 131 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 14

 

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.

 

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Totman, Conrad. The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images

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Omura Masujiro, the Choshu samurai next in the chain of command after the death of Takasugi Shinsaku. His lack of seniority, controversial views, and the need to bind Satsuma more fully to the alliance meant that he was not given command of the defenses of Kyoto.
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Saigo Takamori would lead the defense of Kyoto. Prior to 1868, his only field experience came from the First Choshu Expedition, when he led a contingent of Satsuma troops against his future ally Choshu.
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The Toba battlefield; loyalist forces held a bridge over the Uji river against Tokugawa assault.
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Another view of the Toba crossing.
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Yodo Castle. The decision of the lord of Yodo to defect rather than allow Tokugawa forces to enter his keep represented the first time a fudai daimyo defected from the Tokugawa cause. It would not be the last.
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Tokugawa Yoshinobu fleeing Osaka, which is shown burning behind him. Yoshinobu decided to flee to Edo rather than make a stand at Osaka.

Episode 130 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 13

 

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.

 

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Totman, Conrad. The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.

Images

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The young emperor Meiji. This photo dates from 1871, four years after his enthronement.
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Another view of the Emperor Meiji, depicted early in his reign with a group of shishi loyalists. Meiji, unlike his father Komei, was not a consverative and had no attachment to the Tokugawa, and was thus willing to throw in with the shishi.
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Katsu Kaishu in the 1860s. Katsu was tapped to try to negotiate a settlement between the two sides in 1867, but failed — there was no common ground from which to even begin a negotiation, let alone conclude one.
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Nijo Castle, home of the shogunal presence in Kyoto. While staying here during negotiations, Tokugawa Yoshinobu made the fateful decision to agree to resign and return power to the emperor.
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A stylized depiction of Yoshinobu’s announcement of his resignation. The real ceremony, I suspect, was not this tranquil.